Catholic Leaguer gloats over killing anti-child abuse bill: It was an attempted ‘rape’ of the church

Catholic Leaguer gloats over killing anti-child abuse bill: It was an attempted ‘rape’ of the church
Via Brad Reed

Catholic League president Bill Donohue (Screenshot)

Fanatical Catholic League President Bill Donohue on Monday gloated after he successfully helped kill a bill in the New York legislature that would have made it easier for sex abuse victims to bring cases against their accusers.

As The New York Daily News reports, Donohue sent out an email to supporters after the defeat of the Child Victims Act, an act that he said was designed “to rape the Catholic Church.” The bill would have extended the timeframe that victims can bring forward cases by five years and would have opened up a six-month period for victims to revive older cases.

“The bill was sold as justice for the victims of sexual abuse, when, in fact, it was a sham,” Donohue wrote in an email obtained by The New York Daily News. “[It was] a vindictive bill pushed by lawyers and activists out to rape the Catholic Church.”

Donohue’s accusation that the bill would have “raped” the church certainly seems in poor taste given that the bill was meant to help people who had been raped by Catholic priests.

Then again, Donohue is used to being intentionally provocative, such as when he suggested both Islamist radicals and murdered cartoonists both bore equal blame for the Charlie Hebdo massacre, or when he ripped Pope Francis for the grave sin of accepting the science behind climate change.

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Blame the Muslims: how government and media stoke the fires of Islamophobia

Blame the Muslims: how government and media stoke the fires of Islamophobia

Lindsey German

Muslims are portrayed as fanatics and extremists, caught in a clash of civilisations where the good guys are representatives of western civilisation.

Islamophobia attack dog

BLAME the Muslims. That seems to be the message from governments and media across Europe in the wake of the terrible attacks in Paris.

Muslims are to blame for terrorism. Not just the tiny number of Muslims who carry out such attacks, but all Muslims must carry some responsibility. It is argued that their religion is too amenable to terrorist ideas, that they don’t denounce their co-religionists sufficiently and in strong enough terms, that their schools and mosques are breeding grounds for terrorism.

We are now being told that not enough Muslims are signing up to join the British army while at the same time young men from the Muslim community are flocking to fight with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The way that Muslims dress, the food that they eat and the regularity with which they pray are under scrutiny, and the message is all too often clear: that Muslims are seen as the “enemy within” western society. Indeed this is the explicit argument of the racist Pegida movement in Germany, which is now planning a demonstration in Newcastle, northern England.

Those Muslims who renounce violence as a means of achieving political change do not thereby absolve themselves from blame. Demands for change, or non-violent extremism as it has come to be called, only leads to violent extremism. Or at least that was the contention of the journalist John Ware on a recent edition of Panorama, an investigative programme aired on the BBC.

Many Muslims feel that these are examples of double standards. Most terrorism in Europe is not Islamic terrorism, but connected with separatist groups or with the far right.

The biggest single terrorist attack in recent years was in Norway, carried out by a far right ideologue against a left party youth gathering. This week’s shooting of three young Muslims in North Carolina, which police said may have been over a parking dispute but many have suspected was carried out by a militant atheist, has not led to denunciations of his act as the armed wing of atheism. Other atheists have not been asked to search their consciences to see whether atheism may lead to this sort of extremism. Gatherings of atheists are not targeted by security forces.

Why are the approaches to different groups of terrorists so different? Part of the reason is racism: Muslims are portrayed as fanatics and extremists, caught in a clash of civilisations where the good guys are representatives of western civilisation while the bad guys are identified with backwardness, superstition and barbarity.

This dichotomy conveniently ignores western lack of civilisation, whether through two world wars and a holocaust or through the creation of empires which ruled over whole peoples – many of them the same who are being demonised here. It also ignores the record of Muslim culture historically.

There is one overwhelming reason why this happens however: the wars themselves. There is a refusal to link terrorism with the wars which have taken place over a decade and a half, and a refusal to see that one of their outcomes is a rise in Islamophobia.

There is a hideous symmetry in this: as the wars involving Britain and the US have become more mired in failure, so civil liberties have come under greater attack and the rise in Islamophobia has become more pronounced.

When the war on terror was launched in October 2001, those who opposed it predicted not just a devastating series of wars but a crackdown on civil liberties and a rise in racism against Muslims. Not a single pro-war politician would have predicted its outcome 14 years later. Instead we were told these wars would root out terrorism, encourage democracy and protect human rights.

The war on terror has created the exact opposite of its aim: a massive increase in terrorism.

The war initially was to root out terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Despite the fuss about the killing of bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are still there. Terrorism is now widespread in the Middle East and Africa.

Western Embassies have been closed in Yemen and Libya, which is in a state of civil war and strife, only four years after the western bombing of the country. IS controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. The rise of IS has been partly facilitated by western allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as part of their intervention in Syria.

Despite this, the response from western governments has been more of the same. The US and its allies are bombing IS in Iraq and Syria and this week it was announced 2000 British troops were being sent to Jordan.

We are now in a vicious circle: more terrorist attacks, more crackdowns, more wars, more racism.

The atmosphere after the Paris attacks will lead to much more of that. Already the calls for free speech in defence of Charlie Hebdo have been somewhat compromised by draconian sentences even for those making drunken remarks to police about the attacks.

In this country those returning from IS camps, often with having had no involvement in fighting have been given up to 12 years in prison. Whatever one might think of their behaviour, it is surely counterproductive to send those who have returned, often disillusioned with IS, to prison for such long periods of time.

This open season on Muslims is fuelled by government and media. Stories negative to Muslims are highlighted, those which show them in a positive light or refute previous negative ones, receive much less publicity. The UK government’s Prevent strategy – designed ostensibly to prevent violent extremism – targets schools, colleges and Muslim organisations, demanding that they are vetted for speakers and activity.

This is an attack on free speech, on civil liberties, on the right to think ideas that might be unpopular but which should not be forbidden.

Muslims are repeatedly told they have to apologise but what exactly do they have to apologise for? The Muslim community in Britain has played a large part in campaigning and political organising over the years, most recently on the major demonstrations over Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer.

They have been the backbone of a movement which tried to stop the wars and change government foreign policy. There is little doubt that Britain would be a safer place if we had succeeded.

– Lindsey German is convenor of the Stop the War Coalition and co-author of A People’s History of London.

Source: Middle East Eye

The missing Charlie Hebdo cartoons

The missing Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Telling the full story of a massacre, and striking a blow for free speech, should trump major news outlets’ concern about offending Muslims

Wednesday was not the first time the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo was punished for making fun of Islam and Islamic extremists. In 2006, amid a famous cartoon controversy that sparked riots around the world, Charlie Hebdo reprinted the original Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and added a cover depicting him in tears and complaining about the incorrigibility of his supporters.

Muslim groups subsequently sued the newspaper for its blasphemy but Charlie Hebdo won and relentlessly forged ahead. In 2011, it published an issue “guest-edited” by Mohammed, with an image of the prophet claiming that any readers who failed to laugh would receive 100 lashes. In retaliation, the office was destroyed by a Molotov cocktail. Yesterday, a group of (reportedly three) people who appear to be Islamic extremists opened fire inside Charlie Hebdo’s offices, killing 10, including the editorial director, Stéphane Charbonnier. Two police officers were also killed in a shootout with the gunmen outside the offices.

The incident left editors of media outlets covering the story trying to decide whether to publish cartoons from the magazine’s extensive history of provocation. The outlets that did publish an array of pertinent cartoons provided reminders of how good journalism depends on the liberal exercise of the right to free expression. The decisions of those who published no cartoons or who were highly selective in which cartoons they published showed how fear of being seen as insensitive, particularly by Muslims, can stand in the way of telling thorough, contextual stories that benefit the broader public.

This cover, published in 2011, after the attack on its offices, depicts a Charlie Hebdo staff member passionately kissing a Muslim man. The headline says, “Love is stronger than hate.”

With few exceptions, it has been digital outlets like The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, Vox, and Slate that have exercised their constitutional right by republishing the cartoons that are thought to be the basis for the attacks. In contrast, many “legacy” organizations, from CNN, to The Washington Post, to The New York Times, largely withheld the images. In explaining its decision not to distribute any of the images, the AP’s spokesman, Paul Colford, was quoted as saying, “It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.” Bloomberg, meanwhile, published a slideshow that included many of the incendiary covers.

Whether the decision to show the photos was a pure display of solidarity for fallen comrades, a play for page views, a reflection of persistent differences in editorial culture between “legacy” and digital-native outlets, or a combination of the above, is impossible to know. But one way or another, the outcome is praiseworthy.

As Daily Beast editor Noah Shachtman sees it, the decision not to publish, on the other hand, is deplorable. “For the media organizations that decide to cut these pictures or blur them out, I just find that to be reprehensible,” Shachtman said. “It’s hard to interpret that as anything but giving in to the monsters that just massacred a bunch of people.” The Daily Beast re-posted an updated gallery of cartoons originally published in 2011, under the headline “16 Most ‘Shocking’ Charlie Hebdo Covers.”

Washington Post media columnist Erik Wemple seemed to agree with Shachtman, in criticizing CNN for saying that it was continuing to consider whether or not to publish the cartoons hours after the event (for the moment, it appears to have decided not to). “Those conversations shouldn’t take so long,” Wemple wrote. “Show it all, whatever the consequences.”

Yet, conspicuously missing from Wemple’s column were any images of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons he was calling for CNN to broadcast. Indeed, on Wednesday, the only Charlie Hebdo cartoon on any Post story about the crisis was one featuring Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that the French paper tweeted hours before the attack. In explaining the Post’s decision, executive editor Marty Baron told me by email, “We have a practice of avoiding the publication of material that is pointedly, deliberately, or needlessly offensive to religious groups.”

Fred Hiatt, the paper’s editorial page editor, disagrees, saying he felt that “reprinting one of the covers was warranted to give context to the columns and help readers get a deeper understanding of the nature of the magazine and the controversy.” The Post’s print editorial page ran the cartoon of Mohammed prescribing “100 lashes” for the humorless and, while the image does not appear in the same column on the website, Erik Wemple’s blog published a PDF of the print publication.

In 2011, this special issue, entitled “Charia (read: Sharia) Hebdo,” precipitated the hacking of the newspaper’s website and the combustion of a Molotov cocktail inside its offices.

Meanwhile, The New York Times said in a vague statement that it determined that “describing the cartoons” was enough, but in 2006 its editorial board justified its decision not to publish the Danish cartoons of Mohammed on the same grounds as the Post’s Baron. At the time, they called the decision “a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols…” This year, the Times published only an image of Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover, a caricature of Michel Houllebecq, whose latest novel imagines a future France overtaken by Sharia law.

Where the policies of the Post and the Times purport to grant symbols of all religions equal protection from mockery, an internal CNN memo, reported by Politico’s Dylan Byers, appeared to grant special consideration to one religious faith. The memo specifically cited the network’s refusal to show “cartoons of the Prophet considered offensive by many Muslims.”

Time magazine seems to be in the same camp. In a list inviting readers to “See 18 Controversial Covers published by Charlie Hebdo” (now with a revised title and only containing 17 covers), Time published none of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons portraying Mohammed or other Muslims which its own summary of the massacre mentioned as notably controversial. The list (which does include a cartoon of Osama bin Laden in a disco suit) contains pictures of Pope Benedict XVI coming out as gay and of a conference of “pedophile bishops” (one of whom appears to be a conniving, green-skinned Joseph Ratzinger).

The editorial reluctance of these organizations and others, including the New York Daily News (a publication not exactly known for its restraint), implies either fear of offending Muslims in particular or a flawed hierarchy of priorities. While editors are regularly forced to make difficult calls about publishing sensitive material, and while yesterday’s murders show that worries about angering jihadists are not without basis, in this case, the obvious news value of the cartoons ought to have outweighed any trepidation.

The absence of a confirmed storyline as to whether a specific cartoon ignited the attack means that a wide array of context, including the images, is potentially relevant. Furthermore, if readers want to understand the tragic affront to free speech, there is no replacement for seeing the cartoons, in their unabashed irreverence. “What kind of magazine is Charlie Hebdo? What kind of work does it publish? What are the controversies it’s been embroiled in in the past?” Slate editor-in-chief Julia Turner wrote to me in an email. “To help our readers begin to understand the answers to these questions and grasp what happened this morning in Paris, we wanted to show them the work.”

In 2006, this cover of Mohammed crying, lamenting the hardships of being beloved by fundamentalist jerks, sparked a lawsuit, which Charlie Hebdo eventually won. The headline essentially states Mohammed is overwhelmed by extremists.

Where The Daily Beast published more cartoons, earlier in the day, leaving some without captions, Slate posted fewer, but offered more detailed context. “Especially since the cartoons often include French language captions and references, we felt offering interpretations and descriptions would be the best way to help our readers understand the spirit and sensibility of the magazine, and the range of its targets,” Turner said.That Slate, The Daily Beast and a handful of other outlets published images that formed part of the backdrop to yesterday’s murders, while so many major newsrooms were withholding so many of the cartoons, is commendable no matter the rationale. It was a stand on behalf of freedom of expression, without which there can neither be a free press, nor a press that is effective at conveying the news of the day. As Slate’s Turner put it, “In this case, standing up in some way for freedom of expression was also the path of clearer expression, which is no coincidence, and part of why these attacks are so troubling.”

That connection between “free expression” and “clear expression” encapsulates why what happened to Charlie Hebdo should devastate and motivate all journalists: When a society’s tolerance for all forms of expression is in question, a writer’s ability to clearly express herself invariably suffers.

French Magazine Commits More “Blasphemy”

French magazine to commit more blasphemy

French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, is to publish new anti-Islam cartoons.

French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, is to publish new anti-Islam cartoons.
French weekly Charlie Hebdo, known for its publishing of cartoons insulting Islam’s most revered figure, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), says it is planning to publish more blasphemous cartoons.

The magazine made the announcement on Sunday, saying that a special edition with cartoons on the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) will be published on Wednesday.

“If people want to be shocked, they will be shocked,” said Charlie Hebdo editor, Stephane Charbonnier.

In September, the same magazine published cartoons blasphemous against the Islamic sanctities, provoking widespread outrage worldwide.

The publication led to the temporary closure of several French institutes and cultural centers in some Muslim countries.

The September 19 sacrilegious caricatures appeared in the periodical after the emergence of a US-made film that insulted Islam’s holiest figure.

The blasphemous film sparked protests in Muslim countries, as well as in non-Muslim states like Australia, Britain, the United States, France, Belgium, and some other nations.


Offices of French Satirical Magazine Firebombed

Offices of French Satirical Magazine Firebombed

Here we go again … offended religious sensibilities trample over secular rights to free expression.

PARISThe office of a French satirical magazine here was badly damaged by a firebomb early on Wednesday, the publisher said, after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections. The publication also said hackers disrupted its Web site.”

The story

PARIS — The office of a French satirical magazine here was badly damaged by a firebomb early on Wednesday, the publisher said, after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections. The publication also said hackers had disrupted its Web site.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Firefighters walked outside the damaged offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday.

The magazine, Charlie Hebdo, had announced a special issue for publication Wednesday, renamed “Charia Hebdo,” a play on the word in French for Shariah law.

The magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, told Europe 1 radio that the police had called just before 5 a.m. to report a fire of criminal origin. News reports said a Molotov cocktail had been thrown through a window. The special edition was on its way to the newsstands, the editor said, and will appear as scheduled.

But, he added: “We are homeless and we have no way to put out the magazine. We hope this won’t be the last issue.”

“We can’t put out the magazine under these conditions,” he said. “The stocks are burned, smoke is everywhere, the paste-up board is unusable, everything is melted, there’s no more electricity.”

The magazine’s Web site appeared to have been restored by early Wednesday.

Caustically ironic and vulgar, Charlie Hebdo prides itself on being offensive to virtually everyone. It has drawn the ire of Muslim activists before, including in 2006, after it republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Islamic law usually forbids depictions of the prophet. The edition of Charlie Hebdo that apparently inspired the fire-bombing showed a cartoon of Muhammad and the words: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.”

Outside the magazine’s office, there were still traces of smoke, with huge piles of half-burned copies of the magazine heaped on the sidewalk. Inside, the office was darkened from smoke and melted computers spoke to the seriousness of the damage.

French authorities condemned the attack as an assault on the freedom of the press. “Freedom of expression is an inalienable right in our democracy and all attacks on the freedom of the press must be condemned with the greatest firmness,” Prime Minister François Fillon said in a statement. “No cause can justify such an act of violence.”

The Associated Press quoted Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, as saying his organization deplores “the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence.”

Alan Cowell contributed reporting.

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