"No religion at all has any connection to mankind’s civic progress"
October 29, 2015 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Raif Badawi's website, Free Saudi Liberals, hosted discussion of the importance of separating religion from politics. It was shut down in 2012 after his conviction on charges of insulting Islam, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes. He received 50 lashes in January of this year, but further flogging has been postponed due to his worsening health. This week, the European Parliament awarded him the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the latest in a string of honors from journalism, human rights, and writers' organizations.
posted by Etrigan (25 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Poor guy.
posted by Skyanth at 10:52 AM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a familiar pattern:

Secular Person: [criticizes religion]

Religious Fundamentalists: [react in a way that illustrates exactly the problematic mindset that the secular person was criticizing]
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:05 AM on October 29, 2015 [34 favorites]


Raif received his sentence at about the same time that the Charlie Hebdo thing happened. I am still disgruntled that "Je Suis Charlie" is the cause that people rallied around.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:06 AM on October 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


One issue with the article from The Guardian. It says:

"The only article of Badawi’s hitherto translated from Arabic into English denounces the demand of Muslims in New York that a mosque and community centre be built on the site of the World Trade Centre,..."

In fact, Park51 was planned to be built two blocks away from the WTC site, and not on the site itself. In the link to Badawi's article, he correctly describes it as "in the same area."

I don't understand how this kind of thing makes it past the editors.
posted by ILuvMath at 11:21 AM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gamergate proves that religion isn't the problem. Humans seem to be able to justify violence in the name of "ethics in video games journalism." A tweet taken as an insult to "real gamers" results in having to go into hiding from a hate mob. A mentally ill ex-so can slander you on Wordpress with carefully tuned accusations about your apostasy and bring the hate mob.
posted by humanfont at 11:30 AM on October 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


[Several comments deleted. Getting into a back-and-forth over Apocryphon's quote is a derail from the actual point of the thread, let's not do that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:31 AM on October 29, 2015


Gamergate proves that religion isn't the problem.

No one, neither Badawi nor in this thread, is saying that religion is the problem, so what's your point?
posted by Etrigan at 11:44 AM on October 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is a familiar pattern:

Secular Person: [criticizes religion]

Religious Fundamentalists: [react in a way that illustrates exactly the problematic mindset that the secular person was criticizing]

While this may be true, I don't see the precise relationship to Badawi. Are you saying that he is a "secular person"? The article says that he invokes the Quran, and his full quote is
"No religion at all has any connection to mankind’s civic progress. This is not a failing on the part of religion but rather that all religions represent a particular, precise spiritual relationship between the individual and the Creator."
He still seems to be religious in some regard, even if he is not a fundamentalist.
posted by ILuvMath at 11:50 AM on October 29, 2015


Why Obama Should Stand Up to the Saudis

Sentenced to Be Crucified
Any day now, our Saudi Arabian allies may behead and crucify a young man named Ali al-Nimr.

His appeals following his court sentence for this grisly execution have been exhausted, so guards may lead Nimr to a public square and hack off his head with a sword as onlookers jeer. Then, following Saudi protocol for crucifixion, they would hang his body as a warning to others.

Nimr’s offense? He was arrested at age 17 for participating in anti-government protests. The government has said he attacked police officers and rioted, but the only known evidence is a confession apparently extracted under torture that left him a bloody mess.
posted by homunculus at 11:52 AM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fine; replace "Secular Person" with "Person". The point is, the guy criticized fundamentalist Islam's tendency silence its critics through threats and violence, and fundmentalist Islam responded by doing exactly that.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:53 AM on October 29, 2015


That article is adorably wide-eyed and hopeful:
By pressuring the Saudis to pardon al-Nimr, Obama can win three immediate victories important to this reevaluation. First, he could portray himself as a seeker of justice in the spirit of his Nobel. Second, he could win some goodwill amongst those Shia the Saudis have repressed for generations. Lastly, his actions could open a dialogue in the US media that might educate the American public to crimes that are committed with its tacit support.
No American President will ever "stand up" to the Saudis, at least not in any serious way. We need them too badly for now. Strategic concerns are always going to trump human rights and "justice".

The article is dead wrong that "the American people have little understanding of the grave human rights abuses that take place daily in the kingdom". Everyone knows that the Saudis and all of the Gulf states are autocratic theocractic monarchies that do all sorts of awful things. Badawi's situation is sad but it's just another in a long line and it's not going to change anything.

Nothing will change with regard to the Saudis until the US's strategic goals and needs change. We've long been happy to work with dictators and theocrats, we're not stopping now.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:01 PM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


The article is dead wrong that "the American people have little understanding of the grave human rights abuses that take place daily in the kingdom". Everyone knows that the Saudis and all of the Gulf states are autocratic theocractic monarchies that do all sorts of awful things.

Everyone who cares knows it, and those who only care a little are kind of vaguely aware that non-Muslims are unwelcome in Muslim countries*, in the way that foreigners are unwelcome in Those Other States in the U.S. But if you were to gather a dozen random Americans in a room and tell them "This person is going to be whipped a thousand times for saying 'We need separation of church and state' in Saudi Arabia, oh, and here's another person who's going to be beheaded and then hung up as an example to others," I suspect at least half of them would have no idea that such things were happening today.

* -- I know that this is not actually one hundred percent the case.
posted by Etrigan at 12:09 PM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Many who moan and decry similar official conduct from Iran tend to look away from the Saudis and go "what problem? fill 'er up with premium."
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:24 PM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you ever need more proof that basically anything said about morality and human rights by an American Politician about the Middle East is entirely and completely bullshit, look at Qatar and Saudi Arabia. One's a modern slave state with a theocratic ethnic ruling class, and the other is a slightly less fervent modern slave state run by an even more intense theocratic ruling class.

Our partners in peace, allies in a war against slightly different religious fundamentalism.

The article is dead wrong that "the American people have little understanding of the grave human rights abuses that take place daily in the kingdom". Everyone knows that the Saudis and all of the Gulf states are autocratic theocratic monarchies that do all sorts of awful things. Badawi's situation is sad but it's just another in a long line and it's not going to change anything.

Etrigan is right in that only people who care to find out know about it or remember it, most people know "It's kinda bad, women have to wear veils, right?" but have no idea of the commonality of the violence. For example, my uncle served in the Air Force in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for many years off and on, and had no idea of how bad things were. It's really hushed up, for the exact reason of we need them strategically. They seem to be fine setting aside the fundamentalism to make some money and that's our kind of fundamentalism I guess.
posted by neonrev at 12:41 PM on October 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


They seem to be fine setting aside the fundamentalism to make some money and that's our kind of fundamentalism I guess.

They're not setting it aside at all. That's all us.
posted by Etrigan at 12:42 PM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


They're not setting it aside at all. That's all us.

We're both setting stuff aside. It's not like they have a glowing opinion of the west either.
posted by neonrev at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2015


My dad worked in Saudi in the 70s and went to a public beheading. He always told me it was one of the biggest mistakes he'd ever made and he would never do that again. I'm pretty sure he had nightmares from it.

I guess it just sort of adds to the evil of those not wanting us to get off of oil that so long as we are, we are forced to support things like this.
posted by emjaybee at 1:30 PM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


No American President will ever "stand up" to the Saudis, at least not in any serious way. We need them too badly for now.

Do we? I thought the US was at or near energy independence. Is there some other reason we need them these days, like intelligence sharing? It boggles my mind that we're allies with a country that won't even let women drive. THIS is the reason we shouldn't criticize Chinese human rights, not because we're less than perfect. We're willing to tolerate almost anything if you'll just play ball, and that's the true American hypocrisy. I can accept this up to a point (I try to be practical), but SA is just an absurd regime.
posted by Edgewise at 1:44 PM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


emjaybee: "My dad worked in Saudi in the 70s and went to a public beheading. He always told me it was one of the biggest mistakes he'd ever made and he would never do that again. I'm pretty sure he had nightmares from it."

I'd be really interested to know why he decided to do it. Did he ever discuss it with you to that extent?
posted by WaylandSmith at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2015


A: religion is naught but violent tyranny!
B: God commands me to kill you for saying such a disrespectful thing.
A: ha! Fool, you have proved my point!
B: I know, right? So it'll be a win for both sides. You get to be "right", and I get to kill you. Win-win.
A: uhh ... hang on a second ...
B: no seriously, if I don't kill you then we both lose. It's just logic.
A: umm ... maybe I could just be wrong just this once ... ?
B: no I really need to agree with you on this. God is like, super insistent.
A: shit
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:09 PM on October 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


Do the wise concern themselves over those who say the sun will not rise tomorrow?

Faith that will bear no challenge is not worthy of the name.

Truth is unafraid.
posted by Freen at 4:56 PM on October 29, 2015


No American President will ever "stand up" to the Saudis, at least not in any serious way. We need them too badly for now.

Mark my words, there is going to be a tectonic shift in the US geopolitical stance soon now. Within our lifetimes you will see US - Iran teaming up and the Saudis as the enemy. Then suddenly all the bad shit the Saudis do will become important.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:00 PM on October 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Iran is absolutely a more suitable strategic partner in the medium term. They've got elections instead of monarchs, a functioning civic society, and an educated populace with values outside of the Stone Age.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:37 PM on October 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


But Saudis don't even need to be the enemy, we just stop propping the princes up once they start running out of money.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:40 PM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd be really interested to know why he decided to do it. Did he ever discuss it with you to that extent?

He didn't tell me why, but I was really young and it wasn't the kind of thing he would go into detail on.

When he went he would only have been in his early 30s, working in a foreign country with a bunch of other guys also away from their families. Lots of drinking went on in that group; I imagine it was somebody's dumb idea that they followed through on without thinking about it.
posted by emjaybee at 2:11 PM on October 30, 2015


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