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1 CuriousLurker  Mon, Mar 24, 2014 5:10:31pm

Weird story. Something about it seems “off”.

Not weird that there are atheists in SA—it would be weirder if there were not any since there is as much latitude of individuality amongst Saudis as there is amongst any other group of human beings.

From the article:

When Saudi Arabia issued a decree criminalizing the practice of atheism this month, it sparked a blasphemous campaign in response. […]

Apostasy, which is what atheism would be considered, wasn’t recently criminalized—it has been a capital offense for some time. I don’t know for exactly how long, but documents at HRW, Amnesty International, the Death Penalty Worldwide database, the UN website, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) website.

As to what else seems “off”, well the whole desecrating the Qur’an thing, for starters. It might work (and even be applauded by some) in secular Western societies, but why would Saudi atheists do it? Sure, it might piss off a lot of Muslims, but… to what end? It’s not going to destroy Islam or suddenly transform SA into a secular democracy, and it could very easily end with them dead if their identities are uncovered. Surely they would be aware of this.

I mean, think about it: SA is the birthplace, the very heart, of the ultraconservative, puritanical, fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Islam. It’s where OBL and most of the 9/11 hijackers were from. Are we to believe Saudi atheists suddenly want to battle these guys on their home turf? Do they have the numbers? If they did and could somehow “win” and magically reverse centuries-old social norms overnight, how would the rest of the Muslim world react to Mecca & Medina being in the hands of atheists?

Sorry, but I just don’t buy it—it makes no sense, serves no practical purpose.

2 palmerskiss  Mon, Mar 24, 2014 5:22:10pm

re: #1 CuriousLurker

if you dont mind - can you give me some time to do some further research on the author and the Saudi law? probably manage to get a response to you by tomorrow morning at the latest.

3 CuriousLurker  Mon, Mar 24, 2014 6:01:26pm

re: #2 palmerskiss

if you dont mind - can you give me some time to do some further research on the author and the Saudi law? probably manage to get a response to you by tomorrow morning at the latest.

Of course, take your time—I’m in no rush. It’s just that there are some stories that make my Spidey sense tingle, especially when they have to do with cultures or religions that seem strange or scary or incomprehensible to us (Westerners).

As a Muslim, stories related to Islam & Muslims are the ones I’m obviously most likely to notice, but really nowadays anything that smacks of ZOMG, look at what those people are doing!! raises a red flag for me. Too much click-bait competition out there, you know?

Like the stories about an Egyptian “farewell intercourse” law that supposedly legalized necrophilia, Tunisian girls traveling to Syria for “sex jihad”, the Muslim Brotherhood using puppies as firebombs, etc. They all smelled like B.S. to me and they all turned out to be exactly that.

FWIW, I didn’t doubt those stories because I think Muslims are incapable of doing weird/bad stuff, but because those particular things were nonsensical and designed to push very specific buttons.

4 palmerskiss  Mon, Mar 24, 2014 6:22:11pm

re: #3 CuriousLurker

Of course, take your time—I’m in no rush. It’s just that there are some stories that make my Spidey sense tingle, especially when they have to do with cultures or religions that seem strange or scary or incomprehensible to us (Westerners).

As a Muslim, stories related to Islam & Muslims are the ones I’m obviously most likely to notice, but really nowadays anything that smacks of ZOMG, look at what those people are doing!! raises a red flag for me. Too much click-bait competition out there, you know?

Like the stories about an Egyptian “farewell intercourse” law that supposedly legalized necrophilia, Tunisian girls traveling to Syria for “sex jihad”, the Muslim Brotherhood using puppies as firebombs, etc. They all smelled like B.S. to me and they all turned out to be exactly that.

FWIW, I didn’t doubt those stories because I think Muslims are incapable of doing weird/bad stuff, but because those particular things were nonsensical and designed to push very specific buttons.

I am with you on all of that. I posted this article not so much to point out that Saudi Arabia is oppressing free thought because of Islam, but to follow on to this one i posted earlier in relation to the surprisingly equal amount of atheists in western and eastern cultures.

littlegreenfootballs.com

I was trying to show the nuance of saudi culture, and provide context on atheism around the world. while i have no problem calling out religious hegemony, that was not my point with this page…

i do want to find out more about this decree, so that is a duty for tonight while reading in bed,

i do try and take the time to be wary of ‘zomgoddism’ when i find pages, i am currently working on a project that requires a lot of research on pakistan, ahmadiyya cultism that focuses specifically on reversing the stereotypes of Islam.

i did write about the hudood ordinances in pakistan and rape - littlegreenfootballs.com because it is part of the research for the project. i did try to stay away from ‘zomg’ism in that.

i appreciate you pointing out the issues in this article, because i was not looking for them and i did miss them. they are worthy of more work, and if you could continue to point out when i get something on Islam or Islamic culture wrong, i would be very grateful.

5 CuriousLurker  Mon, Mar 24, 2014 7:40:09pm

re: #4 palmerskiss

I am with you on all of that. I posted this article not so much to point out that Saudi Arabia is oppressing free thought because of Islam, but to follow on to this one i posted earlier in relation to the surprisingly equal amount of atheists in western and eastern cultures.

littlegreenfootballs.com

Ah, I missed that page. You’re very prolific and sometimes I can’t keep up. ;)

As for the numbers, I guess I just wasn’t as surprised as you are. I mean, if you tell people that religious belief (or almost anything for that matter) is forbidden, then a percentage will insist on believing. Likewise, if you say religious belief is mandatory, then a percentage will refuse to believe.

I’m not saying that I think Saudi atheists made their choices purely as a knee-jerk reaction, but as someone who spent several of her teen years living with a (Christian) fundamentalist parent, I do think that the shove-it-down-your-throat approach can create aversion where none would have existed otherwise. After all, look at where I ended up, heh. ;)

I was trying to show the nuance of saudi culture, and provide context on atheism around the world. while i have no problem calling out religious hegemony, that was not my point with this page…

I understand what you’re saying and I didn’t mean to imply I thought you were unfairly criticizing any specific group or country.

i do want to find out more about this decree, so that is a duty for tonight while reading in bed,

I look forward to reading about what your find out.

i do try and take the time to be wary of ‘zomgoddism’ when i find pages, i am currently working on a project that requires a lot of research on pakistan, ahmadiyya cultism that focuses specifically on reversing the stereotypes of Islam.

“Zomgoddism”, huh? That phrase is definitely a keeper! Good to know you’re on the lookout for it. And thanks, we could do with less stereotyping & negative imagery (I can’t tell you how tired I get of seeing photos of Muslims who are appear to be angry/hateful, violent, or otherwise miserable).

i did write about the hudood ordinances in pakistan and rape - littlegreenfootballs.com because it is part of the research for the project. i did try to stay away from ‘zomg’ism in that.

Darn, I missed that one too!

Since you brought up women, I bookmarked a Canadian site called Outburst! last night. I didn’t do a lot digging into who runs it, but neither did I recognize any known wingnuts/islamophobes or moonbats associated with it. The exceprt below, from their “about” section, rang true to me:

With the increased focus on violence against women in Muslim communities, people often speak about us but not with us. When Aqsa Parvez was murdered in 2007, many of us Outburst! members remember exactly where we were and still feel immense sadness about her murder. She could have been one of us. We find that there is little space in the media, in institutions and our communities to have our diverse voices heard. Outburst! was formed in September 2011 by young Muslim women wanting to form an action group where we are at the centre of any discussion regarding our lives. Outburst! was named by us to exemplify how we want to speak out and be heard. We want to create more opportunities to build our own leadership capacity on the issue of violence against women.

outburstmovement.com

This is not directed at you, it’s just a general observation: There are few things more annoying than a person with limited understanding of your situation who says s/he wants to help, then proceeds to talk at or about you instead of to you, insisting that you do things their way because it works for them, even though you know it will never work in your community (like what FEMEN did—coincidentally, that links right back to the vocative site).

i appreciate you pointing out the issues in this article, because i was not looking for them and i did miss them. they are worthy of more work, and if you could continue to point out when i get something on Islam or Islamic culture wrong, i would be very grateful.

I’ll be happy to do that, to the extent that my knowledge & experience allows.

6 palmerskiss  Tue, Mar 25, 2014 12:41:59pm

re: #5 CuriousLurker

The statement also detailed the country’s new, comprehensive anti-terror legislation, warning any Saudi or foreigner residing in Saudi Arabia they could be sentenced to heavy jail terms for joining extremist groups or fighting alongside them.

Many, however, maintain the new laws are a barely disguised effort to quash dissent, pointing to the fact that Friday’s Interior Ministry statement also criminalized atheism, more specifically, any Saudi or resident of Saudi Arabia “propagating atheist ideologies by any means, or questioning the principles of Islamic faith.”

wtsp.com

so they hid the atheist decree inside an anti-terror bill designed to criminalize the muslim brotherhood.

the author is correct on that much.. still dissecting that twitter hashtag and trying to see if there is any sustained outrage or not :)

7 palmerskiss  Tue, Mar 25, 2014 12:46:15pm

re: #5 CuriousLurker

Ah, I missed that page. You’re very prolific and sometimes I can’t keep up. ;)

I’m not saying that I think Saudi atheists made their choices purely as a knee-jerk reaction, but as someone who spent several of her teen years living with a (Christian) fundamentalist parent, I do think that the shove-it-down-your-throat approach can create aversion where none would have existed otherwise. After all, look at where I ended up, heh. ;)

Since you brought up women, I bookmarked a Canadian site called Outburst! last night. I didn’t do a lot digging into who runs it, but neither did I recognize any known wingnuts/islamophobes or moonbats associated with it. The exceprt below, from their “about” section, rang true to me:

This is not directed at you, it’s just a general observation: There are few things more annoying than a person with limited understanding of your situation who says s/he wants to help, then proceeds to talk at or about you instead of to you, insisting that you do things their way because it works for them, even though you know it will never work in your community (like what FEMEN did—coincidentally, that links right back to the vocative site).

I’ll be happy to do that, to the extent that my knowledge & experience allows.

Thank you :)

I understand what you are saying about the evils of good intentions when they are used in place of good policy. the project is really just an attempt to create female superheroes from islamic pakistani women. what i would like to achieve is mythmaking - creating/sharing the stories of powerful women from the area to inspire women and men to see women in a different perspective than is the norm at the moment in pakistan - especially in the FATA….

i do understand the need to be sensitive and my goal here is to change the narrative on islam into a positive one in relation to women, not to attack it. i am an atheist of course, but i also understand the power of faith and the power of perspective.

I appreciate the time and effort you took in delicately keeping me in line :)

8 CuriousLurker  Tue, Mar 25, 2014 2:14:08pm

re: #6 palmerskiss

wtsp.com

so they hid the atheist decree inside an anti-terror bill designed to criminalize the muslim brotherhood.

the author is correct on that much.. still dissecting that twitter hashtag and trying to see if there is any sustained outrage or not :)

That’s interesting, thanks. I wonder why they’re emphasizing atheism when they already have laws on the books that would cover it (though they haven’t been recently used)? Below are a couple of snippets from the U.S. Sate Department’s “International Religious Freedom Report for 2012” on Saudi Arabia (it’s the most recent one available). Added emphasis is mine.

From the Executive Summary, paragraph 1:

However, objectionable content remains, even in revised textbooks, including justification for the social exclusion and killing of Islamic minorities and “apostates;” claims that Jews, Christians, and Islamic minorities violate monotheism; and intolerant allusions to Shia and Sufi Muslims and other religious groups. […]

“Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom:
Legal/Policy Framework”, paragraph 12:

No law requires all citizens to be Muslim, but non-Muslims and many foreign and Saudi Muslims whose beliefs are deemed not to conform with the government’s interpretation of Islam must practice their religion in private and are vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, detention, and, for noncitizens, deportation. Children born to Muslim fathers are by law deemed Muslim, and conversion from Islam to another religion is considered apostasy, which can be punishable by death. Blasphemy against Sunni Islam also can be punishable by death, but the more common penalty is a long prison sentence, lengthy detention without trial, or protective custody. There have been no confirmed reports of executions for either apostasy or blasphemy since 1992.

I realize atheism isn’t “conversion from Islam to another religion”, but what they’re basically saying is that any Muslim who leaves/rejects Islam is an apostate, whether they convert to another religion or become an unbeliever.

Additionally, below is an excerpt from the State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013” on Saudi Arabia:

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press, paragraphs 3-4:

Government-friendly ownership of print or broadcast media led to self-censorship, and there was relatively little need for overt government action to restrict freedom of expression. The government, however, could not rely on self-censoring in social media and the internet. Accordingly, to control information, it monitored and blocked certain internet sites. On a number of occasions, government officials and senior clerics publicly warned against inaccurate reports on the internet and reminded the public that criticism of the government and its officials should be done through available private channels. The government charged those using the internet to express dissent with subversion, blasphemy, and apostasy.

Freedom of Speech: The government monitored public expressions of opinion and took advantage of legal controls to impede the free expression of opinion and restrict those verging on the political sphere. The government prohibits public employees from directly or indirectly engaging in dialogue with local or foreign media or participating in any meetings intended to oppose state policies. The law forbids apostasy and blasphemy, which legally can carry the death penalty, although there have not been any modern instances of death sentences for these crimes. Statements construed by authorities to constitute defamation of the king, monarchy, governing system, or the al-Saud family have resulted in criminal charges for several Saudis advocating government reform.

Anyway, I swear I’m not trying to drive you crazy with nit-picking, I just find the whole exercise of singling out atheism quite strange. Then again, I’m American and have never been to Saudi Arabia, so I don’t really know what kind of subtle dynamics may be going on that I’m totally missing.

Anyway, I’ll stop pestering you now and let you do your thing. ;o)

9 palmerskiss  Tue, Mar 25, 2014 2:22:06pm

re: #8 CuriousLurker

no no i think you make good points - i do not know why they chose to do this - it seems like overkill - but then - look at all the new anti-gay laws that pop up - despite laws already covering homosexuality.

likely it is just a reaction to a problem they think exists, to the point of overkill..

only conclusion i can come to…

i enjoy the nitpicking.. in a sense - debate is important - it is where thoughts and ideas are born…

10 CuriousLurker  Tue, Mar 25, 2014 2:28:51pm

re: #7 palmerskiss

Thank you :)

I understand what you are saying about the evils of good intentions when they are used in place of good policy. the project is really just an attempt to create female superheroes from islamic pakistani women. what i would like to achieve is mythmaking - creating/sharing the stories of powerful women from the area to inspire women and men to see women in a different perspective than is the norm at the moment in pakistan - especially in the FATA….

i do understand the need to be sensitive and my goal here is to change the narrative on islam into a positive one in relation to women, not to attack it. i am an atheist of course, but i also understand the power of faith and the power of perspective.

I appreciate the time and effort you took in delicately keeping me in line :)

Thank you—not only for trying to help, but also for recognizing the need to be sensitive. Too few people (atheist or otherwise) understand that.

11 CuriousLurker  Tue, Mar 25, 2014 2:36:11pm

re: #9 palmerskiss

Good points, you’re probably right—they may simply be overreacting.

The LGF pages are a great place to discuss things in detail as there’s usually less activity, which gives you more time to think. I’ve had some of my most enjoyable, educational debates/discussions here.1

———————————
1. I’ve also had some of my worst screaming, poo-flinging fights here. All I learned from those is that there are some people it’s pointless trying to discuss anything with. But, hey, at least I still learned something, right? ;)

12 palmerskiss  Tue, Mar 25, 2014 2:37:04pm

re: #11 CuriousLurker

Good points, you’re probably right—they may simply be overreacting.

The LGF pages are a great place to discuss things in detail as there’s usually less activity, which gives you more time to think. I’ve had some of my most enjoyable, educational debates/discussions here.1

——————————-
1. I’ve also had some of my worst screaming, poo-flinging fights here. All I learned from those is that there are some people it’s pointless trying to discuss anything with. But, hey, at least I still learning something, right? ;)

dont worry lol i only fling poo at racists….

13 CuriousLurker  Tue, Mar 25, 2014 2:39:30pm

re: #12 palmerskiss

dont worry lol i only fling poo at racists….

LOL, and you do it very well.


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