From the category archives:

Those wacky Europeans

Islamist group Islam4UK, expressing outrage over their recent ban by the British government:

Bakri said that the ban was ”the gravest mistake,” describing his group was peaceful think-tank whose younger members would be pushed toward violence if it were driven underground.

[ . . . ]

”We (were) never involved with any violence, yet,” he said.

Yet, eh? Sounds awfully close to a threat, there.

Now, normally I would be inclined to agree that banning any group for holding views, however offensive or despicable, is a violation of freedom of speech as long as no other laws are being transgressed. But in this case, we’re not just talking about pissing people off by marching:

Bakri’s group argues that, as Muslims, they’re not bound by British law and has expressed support for bin Laden and al-Qaida. In its previous incarnation as al-Muhajiroun, the group was linked to several terror suspects and was accused of recruiting British Muslims to fight in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Bakri has acknowledged that some of al-Muhajiroun members have engaged in militant attacks but says the group can’t be held responsible for their actions.

Bakri, who was deported from Britain in 2005, added that, whatever happened, his followers could regroup under a different name.

”Tomorrow we can call ourselves whatever we think is suitable for us,” he said.

He’s right, of course. Banning the groups won’t erase the sentiment. But allowing them to openly collect funds and organise isn’t the answer either. The British government might have reacted to the wrong thing – moral outrage at the group’s planned (and cancelled) protest march through Wootton Bassett – when they implemented the ban. But it’s clear that we’re not just talking about distasteful speech here, but illegal actions. And that’s where the line gets drawn.

And they can always ban whatever the group decides to call itself tomorrow, too.

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Ireland’s anti-blasphemy laws came into effect on January 1st, setting a shining example of hypocrisy that should make the EU proud:

The new law defines blasphemy as:

 “publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.”

In other words, a complete trampling of the notion of freedom of speech. In fact, this blog post probably violates that law. Good thing this site isn’t hosted in Ireland.

The best response to this that I’ve seen so far? Atheist Ireland published 25 blasphemous quotes by everyone from Salman Rushdie to Richard Dawkins to Christopher Hitchens to Jesus Christ to the Pope, and even Muhammed. My favourite is this one:

Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.

If they’re looking to prosecute people under the new law, I suggest they start in their own backyard.

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Auschwitz sign stolen, recovered

12.21.2009

The news that the infamous ”Arbeit macht frei” sign that hung over Auschwitz had been stolen last Friday sent shockwaves around the world. Now, Polish police say they have recovered the sign and apprehended the thieves: KRAKOW, Poland – Polish police said Monday they had recovered the Nazi German “Arbeit macht frei” sign stolen from the former Auschwitz [...]

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UK to eliminate cheques

12.16.2009

Cheque’s in the mail? Not after 2018 in the UK, it seems: Cheques will disappear within eight years after the Payments Council decided today to abolish the 350-year-old payment method by October 2018. [. . . ] The decision will save banks hundreds of millions of pounds a year, as each cheque costs banks about [...]

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Flying with British Airways for the holidays?

12.15.2009

Maybe not. If you’ve got an airline ticket with British Airways this Christmas season, you may be SOL, as BA employees are threatening to strike: “We are absolutely determined to do whatever we can to protect our customers from this appalling, unjustified decision from Unite,” BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said in a statement. “We do not [...]

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London in the snow

02.02.2009

This is what happens when it snows in England.

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One-timers

01.29.2009

The new Montreal transit chief – get this – actually uses public transit! What a concept! He’s even promised to ride the bus out to the west island to see for himself what a disaster the system is out there. Will it lead to improvements? Stay tuned. Meanwhile in Ottawa, citizens who’ve been held hostage [...]

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From the priceless headlines file

09.26.2008

This one’s a real doozy: EU worried about freedom of religion in Iran. Every joke I could make here would be just too easy, so I’ll let it speak for itself.

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Austria shields wanted Nazi war criminal

06.20.2008

He’s ranked number four in a list of the world’s most wanted and notorious Nazi war criminals. But – all together now – that doesn’t mean he’s not a nice person, right? Milivoj Asner caused a stir just by showing up at a soccer game: The frail 95-year-old is ranked No. 4 on a leading [...]

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Hockey in London?

03.01.2007

With soccer on the rise in North America, I guess the NHL feels that it may be time for another sporting cultural exchange attempt with Europe, and has announced that the Ducks and Kings will open next season with two games in London. That’s London England, not London Ontario. (I had to read it twice, [...]

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