Katy Perry accused of ‘portraying blasphemy’ with Dark Horse video

February 28, 2014

 

An online petition demanding Katy Perry’s Dark Horse video be taken off YouTube has attracted about 65,000 signatures. According to the petitioners at Change.org, the video is guilty of “portraying blasphemy”, because of the video’s use of a pendant reportedly inscribed with the word Allah.

Katy Perry’s Dark Horse clip, which premiered on 20 February, has already attracted more than 30 million views. A phantasmagorical riff on Egyptian mythology, it features Perry as a magical queen who transforms suitors into sand. One of these suitors, a man wearing an “Allah” pendant is struck by lightning and disintegrates into sand.

“At 01:15 into the video … a man is shown being burned whilst wearing a pendant (also burned) forming the word ‘Allah’, which is the Arabic word for God,” wrote the man who launched the petition, Shazad Iqbal, from Bradford. “Blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video, since Katy Perry (who appears to be representing an [opponent] of [Allah]) engulfs the believer and the word God in flames. People from different walks of life, different religions and from different parts of the world [will agree], using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful manner would be considered inappropriate by any religion.”

“The fact that Islam didn’t even exist in ancient Egypt is what really confuses me, Why [did] they [feel] the need to have anything to do with Islam in this video?” added a signatory from High Wycombe.

While the music video has not been pulled in its entirety, the pendant has been cut so that only a plain gold chain can now be seen. It remains unclear whether YouTube edited the video or was told to by the singer’s record company as both parties have yet to comment.

Dark Horse is currently at number six on the UK singles chart and more than 37 million people have viewed the video on YouTube since it was uploaded on 20 February.

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/katy-perry-causes-offence-by-burning-allah-pendant-in-dark-horse-music-video-9153998.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/katy-perry-takes-break-from-offending-muslims-to-deliver-friends-baby-its-been-a-miracle-day-9157332.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/katy-perry-dark-horse-music-video-edited-after-causing-muslims-offence-9159660.html

 

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/feb/26/katy-perry-petition-islam-blasphemy-allah-dark-horse-video

France Satirical Mag Charlie Hebdo Sued by Muslims for ‘Blasphemy’

February 19, 2014

 

French Muslims have sued satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy in Strasbourg for publishing a cover page with the headline: “The Koran is shit – it doesn’t stop bullets.”

The League of Judicial Defence of Muslims (LDJM) led by former lawyers Karim Achoui, has brought the case before the criminal court in Alsace-Moselle’s capital.

The region, which was annexed by Germany in 1871 and 1940-45, still retained part of the old German code that includes the “blasphemy” crime – which no longer exist in the rest of France.

The LDJM has also sued Charlie Hebdo in Paris for “provocation and incitement to hatred on the basis of religious affiliation and insult”.

A further complication is that Alsace’s blasphemy laws has no redress for Islam, covering only Catholicism, three forms of Protestants and Judaism.

According to Article 166 of the Alsace-Moselle penal code:

He who causes a scandal by publicly blaspheming against God by disparaging or publicly insulting Christian cults or a religious community established in the territory of the Confederation and recognised as a corporation, or institutions or ceremonies of these cults or which, in a church or other place devoted to religious meetings, has committed offensive and outrageous acts, shall be punished with imprisonment of three years.

Charb, director of Charlie Hebdo, said: “We know in advance that the trial will not go through because Islam is not in the code.”

The last application of the blasphemy law in the region dates back to 1918.

However, Eric Sander, secretary general of the Institute of Alsace-Moselle, told Le Monde that according to by-laws “any religion, statutory or otherwise can invoke Article 166 of the local penal code which is independent of system of worship”.

Crime of blasphemy was abolished after the French revolution by article 10 and 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789. It was reinstated under the Restoration and again deleted by the law of 29 July 1881.

French courts, however, will consider cases that provoke injury, personal and direct attack against a group of people because of their religious affiliation or incitement to racial or religious hatred in cases involving defamation of individuals.

Second British pensioner faces blasphemy charges in Pakistan for reading from Koran in public

January 31, 2014

 

The family of a second British man facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan said yesterday that he is entirely innocent and called for more to be done to allow him to return to the UK. Masud Ahmad, 72, is currently on bail in Lahore after he was allegedly tricked into publicly reading from the Koran – an act which is forbidden for members of the minority Ahmadi sect to which he belongs. He now faces three years in jail. Mr Ahmad had been released from prison on bail and was now in secure accommodation pending trial although it was not known when the case would be heard and he faced a long and uncertain wait.

Following his arrest in November more than 600 people protested outside the police station. Under Pakistan law it is an offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim. Each year dozens of members of the sect are charged with breaching religious laws whilst they and other minorities are also at risk of outbreaks of sectarian violence in the country if they are deemed to have committed blasphemy.

The quietly-spoken widower was arrested after he was recorded on a mobile phone reading from the Koran by two men posing as patients. Amnesty International said he was maliciously targeted because of his religion.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We will continue to provide consular assistance to both Mr Ahmad and his family.”

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/second-british-pensioner-faces-blasphemy-charges-in-pakistan-for-reading-from-koran-in-public-9099929.html

Elderly British schizophrenic sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan

January 25, 2014

 

A British pensioner with a history of severe mental illness has been sentenced to death in Pakistan after being found guilty of breaching the country’s blasphemy laws. Muhammad Asghar, 69, from Edinburgh, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is unaware that he is ill following a stroke, was convicted at the end of a trial in Rawalpindi in which it was alleged he claimed to be the prophet Mohammed. During the case, which was heard without a jury, the judge forcibly removed his independent lawyers from the court and appointed a state counsel on the defendant’s behalf.

His treatment has been severely criticised by human rights organisations which have long campaigned against Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy legislation which, according to Amnesty International, has created a climate of fear and murderous vigilantism in the devoutly Muslim country where allegations of religious crime are routinely used to persecute minorities.

Mr Asghar’s lawyers and his doctor are desperately concerned for his wellbeing after he attempted suicide following his incarceration in 2010. His condition is getting worse and he requires complex daily medication as well as psychological and social care but is instead sharing a crowded cell with other prisoners. The conviction is now being appealed although it could take five years before it is heard.

Dr Jane McLennan of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh – a leading authority on psychiatric illness in older people – said that to properly analyse his behaviour she would be required to repeat her patient’s claims – potentially running the risk of being considered blasphemous herself. Thus the very nature of the charges in Pakistan makes it difficult for a mental health professional to indulge in a full discussion of the proper diagnosis.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We strongly object to the use of the death penalty and will continue to provide consular assistance to him and his family during this difficult time. We have continuously made representations to the Pakistan government on behalf of Mr Asghar and we will continue to do so. We are opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and we are dedicated to doing all we can to prevent the execution of any British national.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/death-sentence-for-british-pensioner-accused-of-blasphemy-in-pakistan-9083235.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/exclusive-lawyers-denied-access-to-severely-mentally-ill-british-pensioner-facing-execution-in-pakistan-over-blasphemy-9086318.html

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10595398/British-schizophrenic-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-in-Pakistan.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10594765/British-man-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-in-Pakistan.html

French Ex-Muslim Council founded

Le Figaro

6.7.2013

A group of former Muslims who have rejected Islam have come together in Paris to found the Council of French Ex-Muslims. The group aims to claim the right to publicly announce their disbelief and atheism as well as the right to critique their religion of origin freely. The group has currently members from over 32 nationalities, including 28-year-old Palestinian blogger Waleed Al-Husseini who was jailed in the Westbank in 2010 for  blasphemy and later fled to France.

The group state on their Facebook page that ‘they are a group of atheists and unbelievers who have due to their conviction faced threats and restrictions in their personal lives while many of us have also been arrested for blasphemy’.  They say  to ‘want to represent the voices of ex-Muslims in France who denounce the lies that every Muslim is confronted with’.

Similar groups have been founded in Britain and Germany.

Backlash for the anti-Islamic movie grows as Muslim organizations call for blasphemy law

25 September 2012

 

On the 19th of September 2012, around 100 leading Muslim scholars, spiritual leaders and representatives of major Muslim organizations gathered in Birmingham, “in response to the vilification of Islam by the outrageous film ‘Innocence of Muslims’”. In the gathering, a body called The Muslim Action Forum (MAF) formed to take united action against the movie.

 

One of the first actions of the MAF was to organize a protest outside the US Embassy in London.  The protest took place last Sunday and gathered together around 7,000 Muslims to condemn the movie. Aside from the US government, the MAF also raised criticism against the UK government and politicians for not condemning the movie publicly. Also, they called on the UK government and the UN to take appropriate measures to legislate a law against religious defamation.

 

MAF spokesman Saraj Murtaza told the Huffington Post UK: “We are genuinely horrified that the government, the Prime Minister and Muslim MPs have not condemned this film or spoken out about it. Even Salman Rushdie has condemned it. It’s absolutely disgraceful. The only route left is the legal route. Petitions and protests can only go so far. We want to ask politicians here in the UK and the UN to take action to protect against religious defamation – any religion, not just insults to Islam.”

 

Further, the chief executive Mohammed Saleem Khan said: “We have set up to write to the Government, to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Minister of Communities and call for a law to protect religious rights. We will also be writing to Bishops to the Sikh, Hindu and Jewish faiths asking them to call for this protection from blasphemy. We work closely together on many issues and we need their support on this. We need protection for our faiths in law.”

 

In another development, around 100 Muslims gathered in the city of Cardiff to protest the movie. Demonstrators, standing under the Aneurin Bevan statue, waved anti-American and French banners.

 

On the other hand some Muslim organizations such as Oldham Mosques Council (OMC) ruled out the option of protesting against the movie. Instead they decided to lobby MPs and MEPs for international action against attempts to incite religious hatred.

 

Death threats to Iranian rapper in Germany

The 31 years old Shahin Najafi, an Iranian rap musician currently living in Germany, has been sentenced to death by a religious decree of Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpaygani. His is inculpated for insulting the tenth Shiite Imam Naqi. Observers evaluate this decree as lower in rank compared to the Fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 against the British author Salman Rushdie. The latter had been sentenced to death for blasphemy and accused of offending the prophet Muhammad.

 

The fatwa was prompted by a request for advice by a number of students and religious representatives of the Shiite communities in Tehran and in the holy Shiite City of Qom. In the official decree, Golpayegani regrets the recent “permanent actions” against the Islamic revolution carried on in the media and on the Internet. The “innocent Imam Naqi” has been insulted and offended through cartoons, jokes and mendacious stories, the document says. It is also added that the only possible punishment for such people could be the one destined to heretics.

 

In the meanwhile, a second Fatwa has been issued against the musician, this time by Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi. The Grand Ayatollah was asked by Iranian media representatives to provide advice on how the Shiite community should deal with this issue: the innocence of the Imam has been generally perceived as “polluted” in a pervasive figurative and textual way. Ayatollah Shirazi has condemned the act as a shameless public blasphemy against the “innocent Imam”. Such an act committed by a Muslim must be avenged as apostasy, he declared.

 

Najafi has requested the police’s protection, as there is the possibility that some Muslims belonging to the Shiite community decide to apply the decree. His songs, considered provocative, address in a satirical fashion corruption, violence and sexual oppression in the Islamic Republic.

Officials recommend the Netherlands scrap anti-blasphemy law

An anti-blasphemy law in the Netherlands which dates back to the 1930s, is being called outdated and a law of favoritism, and officials are recommending that it be replaced by an anti-discrimination law instead. Officials from several Dutch parties argued that the anti-blasphemy law offers unfair protection for religious groups, but that an anti-discrimination law would protect all groups evenly. In scrapping the anti-blasphemy law, the cabinet is now making moves to strengthen anti-discrimination laws against all backgrounds, and taking the religious component out of being implicit in the equation.

See full-text articles:

United Press International

Radio Netherlands

Britain’s blasphemy law no longer sacred

After a teddy bear incident and much debate, the House of Lords votes to abolish it: A funny thing happened in November when Britain launched a righteous protest over Sudan’s arrest of a British schoolteacher accused of insulting Islam by letting her students name a class teddy bear Muhammad. The Sudanese ambassador was summoned; Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a protest. But it didn’t take long for someone to point out that Downing Street was standing on diplomatic quicksand: Britain itself has a law making blasphemy a crime. Kim Murphy reports.

Teacher in jail in Sudan for teddy bear named Muhammad

A British teacher faces a jail sentence in Sudan for insulting Islam by letting her class of seven-year-olds name a teddy bear Muhammad as part of a school project. Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, has been accused of blasphemy – an offence punishable by 40 lashes under Sharia – and could be imprisoned for up to six months. Rob Crilly in Khartoum and Lucy Bannerman report.