Thinking in public about anything that matters.


Appreciate and celebrate the courageous Arab free-thinkers who risk themselves by publicly standing up for rights, reason, and secularism.

The Freedom of Speech Wars

The Egyptian Sandmonkey has posted one more blog entry, clarifying his original goodbye message and offering an idea on what people can do to help fight for freedom of speech in the Middle East. Please read his message here.

But there is another battle about to be engaged a bit closer to home. One of our own at ThinkerToThinker blogs has been told by his local police that he is under investigation for “hate speech”, because he has ”merely… pointed out that Islam is a fascist ideology that advocates killing Jews, atheists, homosexuals etc.” Mikko Ellila has received a letter from the municipal police stating that they want to interrogate him over what he writes in his blog, because it may violate the anti-incitement law.

I cannot report first-hand what his blog has to say, because he writes in Finnish. But if you want to read what Mikko wrote to Prodos about this, please go here. Be forewarned: Prodos reprints his reply to Mikko in full, including the F-word.

Another blog following Mikko’s story is Gates of Vienna.

I am naturally wanting to be careful in Mikko’s case, since I cannot read Finnish and don’t yet have a translation of the articles in question. But given what Prodos and I have seen of anti-vilification type laws so far, it’s very likely that Mikkois not a hate-monger.We have seen that the new thought police of the Free World don’tlimit themselves to prosecuting advocacy of violence and persecution. Continue reading

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Egyptian Sandmonkey Rants No More

Freedom of speech, of the pen, of the press, of the blog. Those of us who have the freedom to express our minds must guard it as the precious treasure it is.

There are so many on this earth whose governments fail to understand their proper job. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the right of each human being to his life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness. That very broad formulation includes – most importantly and fundamentally – the right to use one’s mind honestly and to express oneself honestlywithout being subject to legal punishment. I said “honestly”, which doesn’t guarantee by any means that the honest mind will always be correct in its content or its judgments. But human beings need to be able to seek the truth, make errors, and self-correct. We need to be able to communicate our ideas with others, to discuss and argue,to trade information,etc., without fear that some Big Brother will forbid and punish us when he doesn’t like what we have to say. In doing so we are able to refine our grasp of reality, weed out our mistakes, and over time improve our understanding of whatever it is we care about. Continue reading

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The meaning of “fatwa”

I’ve been reading some of the material on the Aqoul blog, and came across this discussion of the meaning of ‘fatwa’.

Fatwas and Wafa Sultan

Very interesting, and more informative, I believe, than what I’ve read in the newspapers.

I hasten to add that the criticism’s there of Wafa Sultan in regard to the issue of ‘fatwa’ may or may not be valid, but anyone who goes in front of a Middle Eastern audience through al-Jazeera (even from the distance of L.A.) and says the things that she said with such obvious conviction has to know that she’s risking herself, and I do not believe a sane person would do that unless Continue reading

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Al-Afif al-Akhdar, Another Courageous Arab

In my campaign to celebrate those who risk everything to uphold liberty, I give you Al-afif al-Akhdar. This man has been on the job long time.

The Roots of Jihad

I’ll write more about this when I have time.

Thanks to the Egyptian Sandmonkey for posting excerpts from “The Roots of Jihad” on his blog. “Rantings of a Sandmonkey” has been a great portal for me into the Arab world, where I can find those Arab champions of reason and liberty that I’ve been hoping for.

* * * * *Comment added March 21, 2006: I wrote the above post before I finished reading that very long article on Akhdar. I planned to finish reading the article (after having read Sandmonkey’s excepts and the first part of “The Roots of Jihad”) and then write about my thoughts on it when I had time. But I was so excited by what I had already read, I wanted to post a link to the article right away.

I’ve now finished reading the article, and I’m disappointed that Akhdar criticizes capitalism and upholds socialism. Continue reading

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Jyllands-Posten does it again!

… Not to mention people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, Salman Rushdie, and nine others.

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper that published the 12 Mohammed cartoons, has now published, online, a manifesto signed by 12 courageous writers/journalists/intellectuals. (Hmmm… 12 and 12. Is that a coincidence?)

MANIFESTO: Together Facing the New Totalitarianism

Most of the signers are already under the death threat from Islamists and continue to demonstrate their courage for the sake of liberty.

I hope the major newspapers around the world emulate the guts and the backbone that Jyllands-Posten has displayed in supporting these people, and may J-P stand firm and strong and get heaps of support and customers!

Twelve cheers for Jyllands-Posten and the Manifesto signers!

And don’t forget… BUY DANISH! *8 : )

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The Egyptian Sandmonkey!

Last evening I took some time to read a number of items on a blog called Rantings of a Sandmonkey. The Sandmonkey describes himself as “… an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off.”

The Sandmonkey is an intelligent, humorous Egyptian who writes on both serious and silly topics. But when the subject is serious, his objectivity and intellligence especially shines through. His blog also includes numerous links to other blogs by Arabs friendly to liberty and reason.

It’s always refreshing to read well-reasoned, Western-friendly writings from Middle Easterners, and it’s important for keeping the bigot-bogeyman away from Western minds at a time when we keep seeing the evidence of massive M.E. irrationality. These bloggers and others like them deserve our attention.

A few of the Sandmonkey’s entries that I especially enjoyed last night:

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