Muslim writer 'insulted Islam' and will go to trial for it

In October, Egyptian columnist Fatima Naoot wrote several Facebook posts referring to the Muslim sacrificial feast Eid al-Adha. Controversy quickly arose, and she opted to delete the posts. Unfortunately that was not the end of her troubles:

“Happy massacre,” Fatima Naoot wrote on her Facebook page in October during Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice.

Animals are slaughtered during Eid to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to fulfil God’s command to sacrifice his own son, although in the end God provided him with a sheep.

“Massacre committed by men over the past 10 centuries and followed by men each year with a smile,” Naoot wrote at the time.

“Annual massacre observed because of a nightmare of one (prophet) about his son… ,” she wrote in Arabic.

“Although the nightmare has passed for the prophet and his son, each year helpless animals pay with their lives the price of this sacred nightmare.”

Naoot, who is Muslim, deleted her posts from Facebook after controversy erupted about them.

But a judicial official said on Saturday that she admitted during questioning that she had written them.

The 50-year-old columnist denied she had any intention to insult Islam, the official told AFP, adding she had also been charged with “making fun of the right to sacrifice”.

“It is the price paid by those who carry torches of enlightenment at every age,” Naoot wrote on Friday after having been informed of her trial which is due to start on January 28.

She said that in October she had posted messages on Facebook to congratulate Muslims for Eid al-Adha but “urged them to respect the offering and not humiliate it by flooding the ground with animal blood”.

Egypt‘s constitution outlaws insults against the three monotheist religions recognised by the state — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

I’m glad we have the separation of church and state as much as we do in the United States, bc I could easily imagine nationwide blasphemy laws were that not the case. And I loathe blasphemy laws. Walling religious institutions and ideas off from humor, mockery, or criticism while simultaneously harming human beings is immoral.  Ideas and institutions are things. They aren’t people, they cannot be hurt, and they should not be elevated in importance above humanity.  When religious beliefs and ideas are treated as more important than the well-being of humans, we suffer and die.

Oh, and I find it amusing that you cannot criticize Islam, Christianity, or Judaism in Egypt, but presumably it is A-OK to criticize other religions.

* * * *

With regard to the Muslim celebration…da fuq? Celebrating a fictional character who was going to kill his child? It’s like they think the only important element of that scenario is Abraham’s devotion to God. What about the damn child?! I don’t think it’s outrageous to suggest that most moral people would consider a real-world father like Abraham to be a reprehensible scumbag who should lose all parental rights.  As well as go to jail. But because he’s a reprehensible scumbag devoted to God, it’s different.

Muslim writer 'insulted Islam' and will go to trial for it
{advertisement}

Muslim writer ‘insulted Islam’ and will go to trial for it

In October, Egyptian columnist Fatima Naoot wrote several Facebook posts referring to the Muslim sacrificial feast Eid al-Adha. Controversy quickly arose, and she opted to delete the posts. Unfortunately that was not the end of her troubles:

“Happy massacre,” Fatima Naoot wrote on her Facebook page in October during Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice.

Animals are slaughtered during Eid to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to fulfil God’s command to sacrifice his own son, although in the end God provided him with a sheep.

“Massacre committed by men over the past 10 centuries and followed by men each year with a smile,” Naoot wrote at the time.

“Annual massacre observed because of a nightmare of one (prophet) about his son… ,” she wrote in Arabic.

“Although the nightmare has passed for the prophet and his son, each year helpless animals pay with their lives the price of this sacred nightmare.”

Naoot, who is Muslim, deleted her posts from Facebook after controversy erupted about them.

But a judicial official said on Saturday that she admitted during questioning that she had written them.

The 50-year-old columnist denied she had any intention to insult Islam, the official told AFP, adding she had also been charged with “making fun of the right to sacrifice”.

“It is the price paid by those who carry torches of enlightenment at every age,” Naoot wrote on Friday after having been informed of her trial which is due to start on January 28.

She said that in October she had posted messages on Facebook to congratulate Muslims for Eid al-Adha but “urged them to respect the offering and not humiliate it by flooding the ground with animal blood”.

Egypt‘s constitution outlaws insults against the three monotheist religions recognised by the state — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

I’m glad we have the separation of church and state as much as we do in the United States, bc I could easily imagine nationwide blasphemy laws were that not the case. And I loathe blasphemy laws. Walling religious institutions and ideas off from humor, mockery, or criticism while simultaneously harming human beings is immoral.  Ideas and institutions are things. They aren’t people, they cannot be hurt, and they should not be elevated in importance above humanity.  When religious beliefs and ideas are treated as more important than the well-being of humans, we suffer and die.

Oh, and I find it amusing that you cannot criticize Islam, Christianity, or Judaism in Egypt, but presumably it is A-OK to criticize other religions.

* * * *

With regard to the Muslim celebration…da fuq? Celebrating a fictional character who was going to kill his child? It’s like they think the only important element of that scenario is Abraham’s devotion to God. What about the damn child?! I don’t think it’s outrageous to suggest that most moral people would consider a real-world father like Abraham to be a reprehensible scumbag who should lose all parental rights.  As well as go to jail. But because he’s a reprehensible scumbag devoted to God, it’s different.

Muslim writer ‘insulted Islam’ and will go to trial for it

Blasphemy laws are an affront to human rights

Freedom of thought and freedom of expression are two fundamental rights that every human being has. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in recognizing these rights, declares:

Article 18.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Despite this, countries like Pakistan stifle freedom of expression through so-called blasphemy laws. In Pakistan, these laws criminalize

[…] the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for deities, to religious or holy persons or things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.

A Christian woman accused of blasphemy four years ago has had her death sentence upheld by the Lahore High Court (LHC):

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday upheld the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy four years ago, as her lawyers vowed to appeal.

Asia Bibi, a mother of five, has been on death rowsince November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) during an argument with a Muslim woman.

“A two-judge bench of the Lahore High Court dismissed the appeal of Asia Bibi but we will file an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” her lawyer Shakir Chaudhry told AFP.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where 97 per cent of the population is Muslim and unproven claims regularly lead to mob violence.

Two high-profile politicians – then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti – were murdered in 2011 after calling for reforms to the blasphemy law and describing Bibi’s trial as flawed.

The blasphemy allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009.

She was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations.

They’re going to put her to death for touching a bowl. I don’t support the death penalty for anything, but at least in the case of murderers, I can see the logical chain of reasoning.  “Ted Bundy killed X number of people and to prevent him from doing so again, we will put him to death.”  Asia Bibi harmed NO ONE. She went to touch a fucking bowl for fuck’s sake.  Aside from the fact that there are rules about who can and cannot touch a damn bowl, it’s also beyond asinine that someone who is not even Muslim must adhere to the rules of Islam. That’s massively oppressive of both Muslims and non-Muslims.

One problem with blasphemy laws, as seen in the case of Asia Bibi, is that every citizen of a country is accountable under those laws.  Even if you don’t follow the dominant religion in a country, you still have to abide by rules such as “don’t offend the prophet”. That does not allow people to believe as they choose, nor does it allow people to express themselves as they choose (and to be clear, I don’t believe in an absolute right to freedom of expression; inciting others to violence should not be protected speech, but in that case, it’s because there is demonstrable harm that will likely result; no such harm is present in burning a Bible or “blaspheming” the prophet).

Another issue is that blasphemy laws fly in the face of the right to expression. They hold religion to be more important than humans. They treat objects, books, or things as more valuable than actual people. Blasphemy laws inhibit freedom of speech and expression and actively contribute to oppressing people. It’s clear that countries with blasphemy laws do not value free and open discourse.  Whether political, religious, scientific, or economic, all ideas must be free to be discussed otherwise no one is truly free. Religious beliefs should not be considered above reproach. Religious beliefs should not have rights, but to make “offending” religion a crime means that religious beliefs-ideas-have rights.

No. They do not.

People have rights. Living, breathing people. Religious beliefs cannot be harmed. People can be. Yes, people may be offended by someone expressing their opinion of their religion, such as when I criticize Hinduism, Scientology, or Mormonism.  For all that people’s feelings might be hurt, they themselves are not. Blasphemy laws, on the other hand, often lead to demonstrable harm, up to and including death. Human rights are what are under discussion and what are important (not to mention, such silliness as “you’ve offended the prophet” is patently ridiculous; aside from the fact that there’s no evidence that he existed, even if he did, he’s dead-you can’t offend a dead person).

Without blasphemy laws, the free and open exchange of ideas, a right all human beings possess, allows people to openly criticize political, social, economic, and yes, religious beliefs. This may offend some people, but it does not cause tangible, measurable harm. Contrast that with countries that execute people over blasphemy. Having your feelings hurt vs. being murdered. Which one causes more harm?

End blasphemy laws.

You can read more on blasphemy laws here and here.

Blasphemy laws are an affront to human rights