freedom of conscience
Petition to An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD
Hold a referendum to repeal Ireland's Blasphemy Laws
Open Letter to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD Dear Taoiseach, Last October, your government decided that a referendum should be held on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution and that your Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald would lead consultations on a bill to be put before the Oireachtas. The clear implication of this commitment was that the referendum would be held during the lifetime of this Government. You have also said that you were “shocked and appalled by the brutal and horrific killings” at Charlie Hebdo but you must be aware that those who support murder for blasphemy also include the governments of many nations. The continuing case of Asia Bibi in Pakistan has received global attention and tragically, many others have already been executed for blasphemy. Ireland is the only European country to have introduced a contemporary blasphemy law. At the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009, Pakistan proposed the adoption of precise wording from the Irish blasphemy law, as part of efforts by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to limit Human Rights on freedom of conscience. As Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, has advised Atheist Ireland to convey to the Constitutional Convention: “I wouldn’t expect any harsh verdicts being handed down in Ireland, but those countries that continue to have an intimidating anti-blasphemy practice like to quote European countries to unmask Western hypocrisy.” The distinction between Ireland and those who carry out executions for blasphemy must consist of more than just the severity of the punishment applied upon conviction. Despite your recent prevarication, we the undersigned urge you to lead by example and comply with your promise of a referendum to repeal all Irish blasphemy laws. It is your duty to take a strong position on behalf of those intimidated into silence in Ireland and more importantly, on behalf of those facing execution by nations who cite Irish blasphemy laws in justification and mitigation of their behaviour. Yours Sincerely, JOHN HAMILL - AI Campaign Against Blasphemy Laws MICHAEL NUGENT - Chairperson, Atheist Ireland RICHARD DAWKINS - Evolutionary Biologist and Author STEVEN PINKER - Cognitive Scientist and Author JIM AL-KHALILI - Theoretical Physicist and Broadcaster LAWRENCE KRAUSS - Theoretical Physicist and Author MARYAM NAMAZIE - Author and Human Rights Activist JERRY COYNE - Evolutionary Biologist and Author CAROLYN PORCO - Planetary Scientist ED BYRNE - Comedian and Actor MICHAEL SHERMER - Author and Historian of Science SEAN CARROLL - Theoretical Physicist at Caltech DANIEL DENNETT - Cognitive Scientist and Author AOIFE MCLYSAGHT - Geneticist and Science Communicator ANDREW COPSON - Chief Executive, British Humanists TOBY YOUNG - Journalist and Broadcaster IAIN MIDDLETON - President, Humanist Society of New Zealand RORY O’NEILL - Gay Rights Activist ERIC ADRIAANS - National Executive Director, CFI Canada CHRISTINE SHELLSKA - President, Atheist Alliance International MICHEL VIRARD - President, Quebec Humanists SONJA EGGERICKX - President, International Humanist Union PIERRE GALAND - President, European Humanist Federation HELENA SHEEHAN - Author and DCU Professor Emerita HOPE KNUTSSON - President, Icelandic Humanist Association LONE FRANK - Neurobiologist and Science Journalist ANNE MARIE WATERS - Sharia Watch UK PATRICIA CHURCHLAND - Neurophilosopher and Author NONIE DARWISH - Director, Former Muslims United KATE SMURTHWATE - Comedian and Activist NINA SANKARI - Vice-President Atheist Coalition, Poland MICHAEL DE DORA - Representative to the United Nations, CFI TASLIMA NASRIN - Author and Poet DAVID NASH - Author and Blasphemy Law Historian DAVID NORRIS - Senator and Civil Rights Activist JOSEPH RUSSEL TETTEH - President, Ghana Atheist Alliance SÉAMUS DOOLEY - Irish Secretary, National Union of Journalists ALICE CARR - President, Progressive Atheists ELIDA RADIG - Broadcaster and Feminist HEMANT MEHTA - Editor of FriendlyAtheist.com CLARE DALY -TD for Dublin North DEBORAH HYDE - Editor of The Skeptic MICK WALLACE - TD for Wexford ANN BRUSSEEL - Member of Flemish Parliament
Petition to The Federal Government of Malaysia, All relevant state parties
Stop Crackdowns on Intellectuals in Malaysia!
We, the undersigned individuals, register our gravest concern and strongest objection to a series of crackdowns on intellectuals from September 25 to October 3. These include the arrest of Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol, the harassment and persecution of Akyol’s host, Dr Farouk Musa of Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) and the banning of 22 books, including discursive writings by Akyol, Farouk Musa, scholar Faisal Tehrani (Dr. Mohd Faizal Musa) and cleric Ustaz Wan Ji Wan Hussin. “Religious teaching without tauliah [proper accreditation]” (Section 11 of Act 559 in this case) is a Syariah offense normally reserved for errant preachers in mosques and surau. Actions by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAWI) against Akyol for allegedly committing such an offence prior to an aborted forum in Nottingham University Malaysia, and against Dr. Farouk Musa for allegedly abetting Akyol, set a dangerous precedent with far-reaching implications for academic freedom and, certainly, freedom of speech in Malaysia. Are intellectual discourses in universities involving Islam now being regulated by State Islamic Religious Departments? Do universities need to get clearance from the religious departments before inviting any speakers on any topics related to Islam? As Islam is being applied in almost every sector in Malaysian society, are the religious bureaucrats now the de-facto thought police for the nation to decide what thoughts we can and cannot have? We also view the recent banning of books by Akyol, Farouk Musa, Faisal Tehrani and Ustaz Wan Ji under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publication Act (PPPA) as a further attempt at mind control. Section 7 permits the banning of publications that are or are likely to be “prejudicial to public order, morality, security,” “to alarm public opinion,” or “prejudicial to public interest or national interest”. We ask, how did Home Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, find “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty” and its Malay translation “Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan” by Mustafa Akyol, the two volumes of “Wacana Pemikiran Reformis” edited by Dr. Farouk Musa, “Aku_maka aku ada” (I _ therefore I am) by Faisal Tehrani and “Ulamak yang bukan pewaris Nabi” (Those clergy who are not the Prophet’s successors) by Ustaz Wanji, to be harmful to public order, morality, security, public opinion, public interest or national interest? Are ideas like moderation, reform and liberty now enemies of the state? The crackdowns on intellectuals during these two weeks is not an isolated development but a serious and dangerous escalation in a long and on-going process of thought policing to close the minds of Malaysians, especially Muslims. If we do not speak up for Akyol, Farouk, Faisal, Wan Ji and others whom the state want silenced, soon there will be no one left to speak up for us when we are silenced. We demand the Federal Government and all other relevant state parties: (a) To end all harassments, investigations and charges on Dr. Farouk Musa, IRF and their past and future intellectual guests; (b) To lift the ban of the abovementioned books as well as other books that promote intellectual discourses and moderation; (c) To abolish the Printing Presses and Publications Act and to replace it with a human-rights-compliant publication law; (d) To uphold Freedom of Expression, as enshrined in Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution and to end all thought policing on academics and academia; ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Note : This is a joint statement drafted by a group of civil society organisations in Malaysia, the coordinating unit is Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy, any queries please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Petition to David Cameron, William Hague
David Cameron: Stand up for British citizens and support them against Pakistan's Blasphemy laws.
I started this petition off to support British/Pakistani national Masood Ahmad, 72, who was arrested a few months ago in Lahore on blasphemy charges. Since then, I've learned that he's been granted bail but this is sadly no victory as at the same time I've also come to learn that there are British citizens who have been in Pakistani jails for YEARS under these same Blasphemy laws. This is scandalous, and we must do something about it. I'll give the story of Masood Ahmad until I get more details of the new cases that have come to light. Two people posing as patients came to him for treatment and had a conversation about religion instead. They used mobile phones to secretly film him reciting a verse from the Koran, and then called the police to have him arrested. Mr Ahmad is an Ahmadi, a member of a minority sect who consider themselves Muslim but were declared heretical under blasphemy laws enacted in Pakistan in the 1980's by the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. Under the laws, Ahmadis like Mr Ahmad are not allowed to call themselves Muslim, to offer the Muslim greeting of 'Assalamo-alaikum', to pray or to inscribe their homes, graves or places of worship with Islamic inscriptions. This Christmas Day, thousands of Pakistanis live in fear of practicing their faith. Not just Ahmadis, but Christians, Hindus and other minorities. Pakistan's Kafkaesque Blasphemy laws are used to target minorities on spurious charges, with people languishing in prison for simply practicing their faith. In one case, Nazir Ahmad Khoso, a seventeen-year-old Ahmadi boy from Sindh, was charged with “injuring the religious feelings of Muslims,” and other related blasphemy charges and sentenced to 118 years in prison. The Ahmadis are a peaceful minority sect, whose motto 'Love for All, Hatred for None' means that they have never retaliated despite the continual, violent persecution of their beliefs in Pakistan and other parts of the world. The British Government needs to work to secure the release of Masood Ahmad and push the Pakistani government to repeal these Talibanised laws. It is a basic human right to practice any faith or none. We urge the British goverment and the Prime Minister to remind the Pakistani government of this.