Thursday, July 24, 2014
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Letters to Editor

‘Blasphemy, Offence, and Hate Speech’

A response to Henk Vroom by Professor Oddbjørn Leirvik, University of Oslo
by Nasir Khan

I read with great interest your response to Henk Vroom in ‘Blasphemy, Offence, and Hate Speech’. The historical evolution of blasphemy laws in Norway and Pakistan you present clarifies many points in a scholarly way. (I have been aware of your serious approach to inter-religious discussions and understanding for a number of years, an admirable trait of your outlook and activity that makes a constructive contribution to the notion of peaceful coexistence and social cohesion.) The historical evolution and legislative enactments on blasphemy in the two countries have also a geopolitical and cultural context and the differences we see are enormous. Norway has been a democratic state in the modern times where the state religion did not have an open field but has operated within the confines of the state regulations. But Pakistan had a difficult political history since its inception and the people of Pakistan have been less fortunate because the political and power culture that developed in Pakistan had no substantial democratic traditions or the whole thing in the hands of our rulers after Mr. Jinnah’s death was a tug of war for personal power and prestige.

Read more: ‘Blasphemy, Offence, and Hate Speech’


President Obama 2013 inaugural address

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

Read more: President Obama 2013 inaugural address


Open Letter to New York Times Editors

A personal note: I'm one of your fiercest critics. I'm certainly one of the most outspoken. My critiques are justified. I don't prepare them lightly.

I scrupulously strive for truth and full disclosure. If only Times writers, contributors and editors maintained similar standards.

Read more: Open Letter to New York Times Editors


W2Belongs2Me members!

Thank you so much for your support over the past month. It’s been a lot of drama, but we’re still alive & kicking —and going mobile!

We’re still faced with severely limited access to the W2 space at Woodwards and a regrettable shut-down of programs, but we are still going to fight for it back - we have until the end of February to do that.

Read more: W2Belongs2Me members!


An Open Letter of Response to CRIF

(Counsèil Représentif des Institutions juives de France)

I am shocked and saddened that your organization would label me as an anti-Semite and self-hating Jew. It is utterly defamatory, and such allegations are entirely based on distortions of what I believe and what I have done. To confuse my criticisms of Israel with self-hatred of myself as a Jew or with hatred of Jews is a calumny. I have long been a critic of American foreign policy but that does not make me anti-American; it is freedom of conscience that is the core defining reality of a genuinely democratic society, and its exercise is crucial to the quality of political life in a particular country, especially here in the United States where its size and influence often has such a large impact on the lives and destiny of many peoples excluded from participating in its policy debates or elections.

Read more: An Open Letter of Response to CRIF


Secret Note Found in Kmart Holiday Decorations Reveals Labor Camp Horrors

A haunting, hand-written letter identifies majority of forced labor camp victims as Falun Gong practitioners

A US newspaper reports that a letter hand-written by a prisoner in one of China’s most notorious labor camps was secretly stuff into a holiday decoration product that was purchased at Kmart (story). Published on Christmas Day, the newspaper corroborates numerous testimonies from labor camp survivors taken over the last decade of how, under brutal conditions, Chinese prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, are forced to make products often sold in the West.

Read more: Secret Note Found in Kmart Holiday Decorations Reveals Labor Camp Horrors


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