Arguments Worth Having

Art = Absurdity = Provocation = Contemplation = Wisdom = Love

Archive for the ‘Bullshit Religion’ Category

Guest Post by Nemat Sadat: “We must kill you gays to teach Afghanistan youth a lesson.”

leave a comment »

Guest Post by Nemat Sadat

Shaheen is a 25-year gay Afghan man in Kabul, Afghanistan. On March 6, 2017, his family confronted him was about his sexuality after his cousin saw him being intimate with another adult male. Shaheen was promptly dragged back to his parents’ house where his uncle, father, brother and cousin smashed his legs with a leather belt and other objects until he confessed being gay and committing a carnal sin.

The next morning, Shaheen, still reeling from the previous night assaults, was blindfolded by his uncle, and along with his father and several unknown men, and was taken to a nearby deserted area where he was supposed to be stoned to death. After being thrown to the ground, in the middle of nowhere, Shaheen’s uncle, showing no remorse, stated, “We must kill you so that we teach Afghan youth a lesson. Make sure they do not become filthy faggots like you.”

Having lost all hope for mercy, Shaheen accepted the fact that he was going to die alone with no one in the world who would care or know what happened to him. In a last minute effort right before the first stone was thrown and surging with “do or die” adrenaline, he bit his uncle’s hand and fled, sprinting hard for the next 30 minutes. After losing his executioners, he collapsed and hid and then wandered around aimlessly until finally finding his way out. 

He is currently still hiding inside Afghanistan with no friends or money to escape. I wired $125 US dollars to him as an emergency lifeline of support. We need to help him get a visa for Turkey, an airline ticket to Ankara, and support him for the first several months in the new country until he can recover from this trauma. A queer Afghan couple (a trans woman and gay man) have offered to pick Shaheen up from the airport, host him, and help him file for asylum at the local UN office.

Once he arrives safely to Turkey, he will make a video and share with you this harrowing experience (and hopefully his success story). Until then, he is forced to stay in a country that wishes his death. Shaheen’s family has reported him missing and is actively searching for him.

Shaheen’s uncle wanted nothing more than to murder his nephew to restore their family’s honor and set an example so no other LGBTQ Afghan will try to be free and live a meaningful life honoring their true nature.

I have known Shaheen for over a year. I know he is a kind and hard-working young man, who completed his studies in engineering and had big dreams for himself.

This past week as the money in his bank account dwindled, he wanted to kill himself or turn himself in to the authorities. After he contacted me on Facebook to share his story in weeping sobs and say goodbye, I convinced him to live and escape.

Let’s rescue Shaheen to show, that despite his family trying to annihilate everything good inside him, that the decent and dignified people of this world stand in solidarity with him. Let’s make sure that he escapes safely and that his courage becomes a source of inspiration for the millions of LGBTQ Afghans inside Afghanistan who are criminalized to death and trapped in perpetual turmoil.

As the first public figure to come out gay and campaign for LGBT rights in Afghanistan, I personally know the beneficiary and can vouch that he is gay and has gone through all the hardships that I have described. Shaheen and I have corresponded by Facebook, Instant Messenger, and Skype. I plan to wire the money raised to him via international wire/remittance to his bank account in Afghanistan. Since I am a US resident with a valid US social security number, I will go ahead and fundraise on behalf of the beneficiary. 

Shaheen’s life matters. Please show your generosity and support. Thank you.

Donate here:  Rescue Shaheen

Nemat Sadat was a professor of political science at the American University of Afghanistan, where he came out as gay and became an LGBTI Rights activist. His story has been featured in the Guardian Magazine, BBC, El Mundo, Global Post, GT, Diplomat, Gay Times, Out, Voice of Israel, Voice of America Dari, and the Washington Post. He has appeared on segments of CNN, NBC News, TOLO News, and on Huff Post Live, and has worked at ABC News Nightline, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Show, and The UN Chronicle. He has graduate degrees from Harvard, Columbia, and Oxford.


Written by Caleb Powell

April 27, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Currently We Are Trying to Steer Clear from Blogs on Blasphemy

with one comment

Last month an editor from The Express Tribune asked me if I wanted to write a blog on United Airlines barring two girls wearing leggings from boarding. I responded:


This article is interesting, and it seems just absurd that an airline would ban anyone for wearing leggings, however I’m not sure if I’m the right person for it, I’m much more interested in writing about a different topic. The #HangAyazNizami hashtag is exploding ever since he was arrested. Blasphemy is one of the more important issues in Pakistan, and the extremists are pulling down the entire country with their ideology. I also realize how sensitive the issue is, and would be respectful both of Islam and its followers in the context of speaking against judicial executions. This goes back to the dialectic between fundamentalists and Salmeen Taseer for his support of Asia Bibi. I would examine compulsion in religion and how this contradicts punishment for blasphemy. Let me know if you’re interested.



But The Express Tribune responded thus:

“Currently, we are trying to steer clear from blogs on blasphemy.”

We know the danger, as the BBC reports, “At least 65 people have been murdered in Pakistan after being accused of blasphemy since 1990.” This goes back to Rushdie and Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, who wrote on topic:

“No blasphemy harms Islam and Muslims so much as the call for murdering a writer.”

Then Pakistan then experienced another tragedy. A young student, Mashal Khan, was murdered on campus.

“Students beat classmate to death while screaming ‘Allahu Akbar'”

PEW reports that 64% of those in Pakistan support capital punishment for those who blaspheme, and section 295C of the Penal Code also mandates the penalty. So it’s not mere cowardice to avoid polemics if you are on the ground in Pakistan.

We fight those who support blasphemy laws, for they are at the forefront of the dialectic between benevolent humanity and the evils of religious chauvinism. We also fight those who obfuscate in their condemnation, out of cowardice, ignorance, or complicity. Many in Pakistan and the West are guilty (a tangent that runs too deep for a short blog).

Therefore, those who have freedom of speech, non-Muslims and Muslims alike, must challenge the evil of blasphemy laws and recognize many “blasphemies” are actually not evil at all, but calls for tolerance.

To double down on the above, just like I have no desire to burn the American flag, use racial slurs, or mock the religious, I also claim my right to criticize the United States, culture, and religion. Those who criticize are often falsely accused of being unpatriotic, racist, and blasphemous when in fact they are pushing ideas that will help humanity progress. That’s why not enough can be written in support of free speech and against blasphemy, whether secular or religious.

Such evil ideology can only flourish in a vacuum of speech. From Mao’s China to North Korea, those who control speech control society. And right now, in Pakistan, evil is flourishing.

Pakistan, we realize the danger you face and we support you, but please write about blasphemy. Be convincing, be strong, be courageous, spread the risk. We who have speech support you.

Written by Caleb Powell

April 15, 2017 at 10:01 am

Guest Post by Waseem Altaf: The Condemned

leave a comment »


The Condemned

Sabeen Mahmud was a human rights activist. Human rights activists are respected in countries ruled by “non-believers.” But since she was involved in human rights activism in a country where perhaps it was not required, she was murdered by the “believers!”

Doctor Mehdi Ali Qamar belonged to a minority community who came all the way from the US and was voluntarily giving treatment to his poor countrymen. Minorities generally enjoy equal rights in countries ruled by “non-believers.” But since he was from a minority community working in a country where perhaps minorities have no right to be treated as humans, he was murdered by the “believers.”

Alisha was a transgender from Peshawar. A transgender generally enjoys equal rights in countries ruled by “non-believers.” But since she was living in a country where perhaps transgenders have no right to live, she was murdered by the “believers.”

Saleem Shahzad was a bold journalist. Bold journalists are generally held in high esteem in countries governed by “non-believers” But since he was working in a country where perhaps bold journalism is not required, he was murdered by the “believers.”

Doctor Shabbir Hussain Shah was a liberal professor at the University of Gujrat. Liberal and progressive thought is greatly appreciated in countries governed by “non-believers.” But since he was promoting his liberal thoughts in a country where perhaps liberalism is not required, he was murdered by the “believers.”

Amjad Sabri was a renowned artiste. Artistes are highly revered in countries ruled by the “non-believers” But since he was performing in a country where perhaps art is not required, he was murdered by the “believers.”

–  Waseem Altaf

Judging Aasia Bibi, Judging Islam

leave a comment »

State Sanctioned Murder:  The Pakistani courts, after a lengthy trial, verdict, sentencing, and appeals regarding Aasia (Asia) Bibi’s alleged blasphemy, ruled in support of “Judicial Murder.” The accused will not be the only one to receive judgment. My take at the Express Tribune:

“Aasia Bibi, mother of five, sits in prison hoping one last appeal will save her from death row. If she is executed, as with the lynching of Shahzad and Shama Masih and the assassination of Salman Taseer, Islam will be judged…” Will Islam be judged if Aasia Bibi is executed?

Further Thoughts:  The injustice with blasphemy cases are two fold. First, they often are flimsy, the guilt of the accused is dubious, and the accusers often are settling scores. Second, even if the accused is guilty, the accused should not face capital punishment, not to mention that any penalty can seem absurd from the outside. More later.

Related:  Pakistan’s blasphemy laws legitimize intolerance – The Economist

Pakistani Woman Facing Death – The Guardian

Blasphemy Law Highlights Pakistan’s Hypocrisy – The Daily Beast

Written by Caleb Powell

December 4, 2014 at 4:46 pm

The Islamophobia of CAIR vs. The Honor Diaries

with 5 comments

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”Voltaire

Support those who engage in the dialectic between benevolent Islam and misanthropic fundamentalism. These include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sushmita Banerjee (assassinated), Firoozeh Bazrafkan, Marwa Berro (Between a Veil and a Dark Place), Mona Eltahawy, Tarek Fatah, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Rana Husseini, Kenan Malik, Irshad Manji, Hamid Mir, Azar Nafisi, Maryam Namazie, Asif Mohiuddin, Taslima Nasrin, Maajid Nawaz , Ali A. Rizvi, Raza Rumi, Nawal El Saadawi, Zaiuddin Sardar (Critical Muslim), Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, Amina Wadud, Malala Yousafzai and many others. Unfortunately, CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations) too often refuses to engage.

Honor Diaries:  The film Honor Diaries, “a movement meant to inspire viewers to learn more about issues facing women in Muslim-majority societies, and to act for change,” focuses on nine women, Zainab Khan, Raheel Raza, Juliana Taimoorazy,  Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Raquel Saraswati, Fahima Hashim, Nazie Eftekhari, Jasvinder Sanghera, and Manda Zand Ervin. CAIR should want you to hear their stories:

“CAIR supports free enterprise, freedom of religion and freedom of expression.”CAIR’s principle #1

Courage:  “The ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.”For examples, see Pakistani journalists battle imbeciles who cannot argue with words and thus use violence.*

CAIR protests Honor Diaries:

“The screenings were not canceled by CAIR. They were canceled by the screening sponsors after they were informed (by CAIR) of the hate agenda and Islamophobic history of the film’s producers.” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper

The Islamophobia of CAIR:  You would think CAIR would be against Women Doused in Acid for Turning Down Marriage Proposals (Honor Diaries posted on their Facebook Page). Either CAIR fears those whom Honor Diaries might offend or they disagree with the message and want to suppress it. In the former they are cowards, in the latter they are fascists.

CAIR Principle #10:CAIR supports equal and complementary rights and responsibilities for men and women.

CAIR, on principle, should protest unequivocally honor killing, FGM, acid baths for refusing marriage proposals, not to mention laws that mandate women needing spousal permission to travel, drive, or work. According to the UN, over 90% of honor killings are within Islamic cultures, this persecution extends to homosexuals, apostates, and blasphemers. Therefore, CAIR should look at Islam with a focus on changing the culture.

Criticism:  Criticizing religion has helped the evolution of universal rights, and today the West knows more peace now than ever (See The Better Angels of our Nature:  Why Violence Has Declined). The Western media supports the rights of minorities, women, and homosexuals, especially in the West, and protests loudly against discrimination in non-Muslim majority countries like Uganda. However, the same media is not as loud when it comes to rights in Islam. The Western media allows CAIR to instill fear that “deflects from a chosen course of action.” This defines cowardice, and includes Brandeis University‘s President Fred “Urine Pants” Lawrence, who changed plans to give Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree. (For two takes on Brandeis, see Sudanese journalist Nesrine Malik at the New York Times (Freedom to Offend) and Roger Scruton at Forbes (A Triumph for the Boston Bombers).

philomena-og-badgePhilomena vs. the Catholic Church:  Philomena, a film about an unmarried young woman whose infant was taken from her by Catholic nuns, showed the crocodile’s belly of Catholicism. But did the Catholic Church protest? No. Why? Because the Catholic Church is more secure than CAIR.

Does CAIR condemn Anwar Al Awliki or Nidal Hasan? No. When the FBI searched Nidal Hasan’s mosque CAIR and Ibrahim Hooper protested: ABC News

“Nidal Hasan is a hero…The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the dilemma of the Muslim American community. Increasingly, they are being cornered into taking stances that would either make them betray Islam or betray their nation.”  – Anwar Al Awlaki, NYTimes

It’s not censorship, but…The Honor Diaries, so far, have not been literally censored. They have been quieted. CAIR has a right to protest, but CAIR must protest ALL hate speech or none. CAIR should support the Muslim women in Honor Diaries, yet within they see a “hate agenda.” This is perplexing.

Conclusion:  CAIR spreads Islamophobia and religious chauvinism, propagating a culture that fears fundamental terror; and a society where citizens fear speaking.


7 Ways Westerners Can Help Ex-Muslims – Patheos

64% of Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan Support Death Penalty for Leaving Islam – Washington Post (Hirsi Ali may be anti-Islam, but as an ex-Muslim, how should she feel? Who carries the greater hate?)

1,600 Pakistani women murdered, 370 raped in 2013 – The Nation

*Al Jazeera:  Journalism in Pakistan, a threatened existence

*A failed assassination attempt on noted Pakistani journalist

*Pakistan not safe but producing Brave Journalists

The Phobia of Being Called Islamophobic – Ali A. Rizvi @HuffPo

*Run for Your Life“Equipped with just enough religion to hate those with another faith — but not enough to love their coreligionists — Pakistanis have mostly turned their backs on religious atrocities. ” – Pervez Hoodbhoy

*The Hamid Mir Cased:  ‘In Pakistan, they used to censor journalists, now they shoot us’ – The Guardian UK

*When Words Can Kill

On Facebook:  Between a Veil and a Dark Place, Honor Diaries, Muslims Facing Tomorrow

HuffPo:  (Interview with Producer Paula Kweskin and subject Zainab Khan) ‘Honor Diaries’ Film Shows Islamic Honor Code Forces ‘Systemic, Institutionalized Misogyny’ On Women 

Written by Caleb Powell

April 23, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Atrocity Porn vs. Flowers & Dancing: The Taliban’s Imminent Slaughter of the Kalash

leave a comment »

“We want to make it clear to the Kalash tribe that they will be eliminated along with their protectors,the Western agents, if they don’t embrace Islam,” – Taliban Spokesman

The Kalash Tribe lives in the Chitral Valley in Pakistan. They number less than 5,000 and, as far as my limited research can discern, they have no nuclear or conventional weapons, bellicose intentions, or other major defects. They dance, welcome strangers, wear colorful clothes, and put flowers in their hair. Abominable. Enter the Taliban:  “Western NGOs are promoting Kalash wine and we warn all those individuals and hotels selling it, they should stop production and selling of wine otherwise they will be sent to hell by the will of God.”

Voltaire“Ceux qui vous font croire des absurdités, peuvent vous faire commettre des atrocities.”

Or:  “Those who can make you believe absurdity, can make you commit atrocity.”

Voltaire nails the Taliban:  The Taliban combine evil, idiocy, and fanaticism. No matter the wrongs of the U.S., U.N., or Pakistani government, their sins do not absolve the Taliban. It’s clear the Taliban will commit perpetual atrocity until they are destroyed. But let the Taliban speak for themselves:

Decapitation:  Tehreek-e-Taliban Severed Heads Video

Women’s Rights:  TTP Has 500 Female Suicide Bombers

Free Speech:  Media Now in TTP Crosshairs (Taliban threatens Pakistan media)

Science and Technology:  Local Paramedic Shot Dead (Taliban kills doctors)

Pakistan media:  The cites originate from Pakistan media, Arab media, and Western –  BBC  Pakistan: Kalash valley culture at risk from Taliban. Why not unite to use propaganda and self-defense to destroy these goblins? Though “moderate” Taliban may disapprove the following video, it depicts accurately these vile idiots:

UPDATE:  TTP Threats Panic Kalash “My seven-year-old daughter is so terrified that she’s sleepless nights. I found her awake at night on return from another valley the other day as she wanted to see me around in the wake of the Taliban threat.” / Embrace of the Kalasha

Taliban Giggle as They Kick Decapitated Heads:  Or, at least, I think it’s the Taliban…

Written by Caleb Powell

February 18, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Marwa Berro vs. “32 Badass, Ruthless, and Honest Muslim Women”

with 7 comments

muslim women against femen

On January 10, 2014, Tasneem Nashrulla posted at Buzzfeed:32 Powerful And Brutally Honest Tweets.” The subtitle explains it’s a “snippet of how badass, ruthless and honest Muslim women are.”

Marwa Berro, Lebanese, wore the veil until the age of twenty-four. She writes Between a Veil and a Hard Place. Let’s compare Tasneem Nashrulla’s Tweeters with Marwa’s blog:

Brutally Honest Tweeter #1 – نورالعين شاحد @YxxngHippie: White fems want to pull your hijab off and ‘liberate’ you and Muslims tell you you don’t need feminism (See Muslim Women Against Femen)

Amina Tyler – Arrested for conducting “provocative acts,” Imams have called for stoning as punishment

Marwa Berro: “…a white Western woman, Lauren Rankin, attempts to make the case that it is not Islam that contributes to misogyny and oppression of Muslim women…Rankin has engaged in what I say is a dangerous refusal to examine the very real influences and intermingling of religion and patriarchy in violence and oppression against women and children in Muslim-majority countries. / My oppression is not a lie, Ms. Rankin.” – The Bigger Lies You’ve Been Told in Denial of Muslim Women’s Oppression

BHT #2 – Aniqah @AniqahC : Constantly having to prove to white fems that Islamic feminism DOES exist so stop trying to “free” me from Islam.

Happy Muslimah woman

MB: “I wonder about us–Muslims, ex-Muslims, Muslim-ish people, queer and LGBT Muslims and citizens of Muslim-majority countries, Arabs, South Asians, North Africans, Southeast Asians, Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, people from traditional patriarchal societies in the third world, immigrants, et al. I wonder if all of us, if any of us, can reconcile our spiritual, personal, and worldly identities and still do justice to the phenomenally unique pain and/or diversity of experience we carry.” – A Call for Mercy Because of What Muslims and ex-Muslims Share

BHT #3 – Noor يحيى Amr @noor3amoor: Dear FEMEN: Your pasty tits don’t liberate me. (See Amina Quits FEMEN)

Alia Elmahdy – Received death threats for posting photos of herself online

MB: “We are all Amina Tyler. We are all Aliaa Elmahdy.” A Call for Mercy Because of What Muslims and ex-Muslims Share

BHT #4 – n.s @nsyakiras: white feminists simply love malala yet will not stand in solidarity with other muslim women.

MB: Respect, respect, love to you, Malala. Can you tell me I have hope when someone with your belonging is so hated? – A Call for Mercy Because of What Muslims and ex-Muslims Share

BHT #5 – Zahraa @loredsaviour: White feminists argue women should be able to dress how they want to, yet refuse to let me wear my hijab in peace

The UK protects her right to wear the veil

MB: “I was forced to wear this shit for 14 years, and ten of those years were in ‘liberal’ Lebanon. Unless the choice to NOT wear the hijab is free of ANY social or legal or material costs by institutions or social structures EVERYWHERE then it’s not a free choice and it can and should be discussed.” – Stop Pretending Your Right to Hijab Is at Risk

It doesn’t take “brutal honesty” to conform to your culture.  Ynxxg Hippie & Crew vs Marwa argue against one other. And what’s with the simplistic reductive attack on “white feminists?” Any human who cares about the issue should be welcome to weigh in. As to who takes the risk, bravery is a willingness to face danger without fear. Until Western governments start stoning women who wear the veil, I’m not really buying the “brutally honest” and “powerful” Tweets.

Update:  The Death of a Muslim Woman (Details honor killings in Germany of women who want to escape, like Marwa, one woman killed for not “wearing hijab”)

Written by Caleb Powell

January 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm