Category Archives: Religion

Shams Bandar: Why Do We Pin All Our Problems on the West?


I’d never heard of Saudi-born singer Shams Bandar before, but after watching the brief clip of her in discussion below, I’d be pleased to hear from her again.


“Why do we pin all our problems on the West? For 1,400 years we have been slaughtering one another, just because one of us prays one way and another prays a different way.”

Of course, The West deserves its share of criticism for meddling in foreign affairs, but as Bandar points out, this excuse simply will not fly as the sole explanation for every atrocity and human rights violation in Muslim countries.

It should be clear to anyone by now why theocracy and man-made ideology strives to subjugate women and deny them a voice. Religious zealots are afraid of smart, vocal women like Bandar. And they should be.

h\t to Ali A Rizvi

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

Warwick University Cancels Maryam Namazie Talk


UPDATE 28 Sep 2015 – Warwick Student Union have now confirmed Maryam Namazie will speak as originally scheduled, and will be issuing her an apology. My original article is below.

Partially untouched by that compromising crush of the dreary adult life, you could always count on young British students, right or wrong, to quite frankly, not give a shit who they ‘offended’ with their opinions. It seems that’s still true in all but one sense: Islamism.

Maryam Namazie is the latest critic of Islamism to fall afoul of this liberal regressive blind spot. Not for the first time either. The latest episode comes courtesy of  Warwick University Student Union. Maryam was due to give a talk on the 28th of October after an invite from ‘Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society’.

The student union have now cancelled the talk, justifying their decision by claiming:

“There a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus. This is in contravention of our external speaker policy”.

Maryam Namazie is an ex-Muslim and tireless campaigner for human rights. I’ve been to see Maryam Namazie speak in person. I’ve also interviewed her for The #GSPodcast. Everything she says about Islam and Islamism oozes with an urgent concern for women, children, apostates and Muslims. Not hatred. Whether you agree with her or not, refusing her a platform is another example of an overflowing cesspool of liberal cowardice. It’s particularly laughable that the feelings of a 1.6 billion strong ‘group’ need to be protected here, but the voices of our minority dissenters do not.

On the University’s policy regarding guest speakers, The National Secular Society reports:

Shockingly, the policy states that external speakers on campus must “seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge”.

Maryam Namazie notes:

The Student Union position is of course nothing new. It is the predominant post-modernist “Left” point of view that conflates Islam, Muslims and Islamists, homogenises the “Muslim community”, thinks believers are one and the same as the religious-Right and sides with the Islamist narrative against its many dissenters.

I would encourage people to demand answers from the academic institutions we trust to uphold free speech and critical debate. You can make a complaint to Warwick Student Union here.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

‘Nothing To Do With Islam’ – Dangerous New Faith On The Rise.

Rubber-DucksPolling data is often used to claim that atheists and the non-religious are the fastest growing ‘religious’ group. However, some observations made over the last few years have led me to conclude that’s clearly not the case.

I can reveal that the fastest growing faith-based ideology is in fact the cult of ‘Nothing To Do With Islam’ and its adherents; ‘The Notslammers’. This denomination appears to be an off-shoot of The Spineless Church of Apologia.

After a brief investigation I’ve been able to identify ‘The Notslammers’ central piece of dogma – which I refer to as ‘Duck Theory’.

Duck Theory; If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, pecks like a duck, tastes like a duck and in fact calls itself a duck – it’s actually nothing to do with ducks whatsoever, you gross, racist duckaphobe.

Most concerning of all however – this well subscribed faith appears to be responsible for the overwhelming majority of current day terror attacks.

To provide but a small selection from a much greater sample, these last few years alone we have seen; a soldier beheaded on the Streets of London, cartoonists slaughtered in France, scores of girls enslaved in Nigeria, formation of a genocidal ‘state’ and suicide bombings carried out almost daily – all in the name of ‘Nothing To Do With Islam’.

At least we can sleep easy in the knowledge that our world leaders – those charged with the vital task of combating this threat – have been vocal in singling out ‘Nothing To Do With Islam’ in relation to these abhorrent acts. I don’t know about you, but I’ll sleep easier knowing the problem has been clearly identified by those in charge.

No ducks were available for comment at the time of publishing.

You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

Ep#41 – Ex-Muslims of North America #ExMuslim

Muhammad Syed (@motheatheist) and Sarah Haider (@SarahTheHaider) of The Ex-Muslims Of North America (@ExMuslimsOfNa) join me on this week’s #GSPodcast.  We discuss the wonderful work they are doing in providing a support network for people leaving the Islamic faith.  They tell us about their own ‘apostasy’ and explain the issues surrounding the depiction of Muhammad in the wake of the horrific Charlie Hebdo attacks.  We also discuss anti-Muslim bigotry, ‘Islamophobia’, gender segregation and freedom of expression.  Please show them some support.

Also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

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BBC Guidelines on Depicting Muhammad

BBC_GatesIn the wake of the appalling Islamist terror attacks (still currently unfolding at the time of writing) in France this week over apparent cartoon based satire of Muhammad – one deeply obscene question is doing the rounds yet again; ‘Should news channels show the cartoons in question?’.

The fact that this question is even asked, and indeed that most news channels will not show the cartoons integral to their reporting proves we’ve already lost our freedom of expression in this area.  It’s gone.

I was appalled to learn this week that depicting Islam’s prophet on the BBC is actually prohibited as per their own stated editorial guidelines:

“The prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form.”

Full of bluster, indignation & aspirations of petitioning – I was half way through a ranty blog post on the topic when the BBC pulled the guidelines in question from their website and announced they were making revisions:

They’ve spared you my unlettered ramblings at least, but I do wonder at which point was prohibiting depictions of Muhammad considered ‘in date’ or acceptable?  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve reported on their refusal to promote freedom of expression over the ‘hurt feelings’ of the godly.

I await the revised guidelines with anticipation1. When will a mainstream news channel take a brave stance on this?  Or even an honest one?  Let’s no longer pretend we are concerned about upsetting the sensibilities of the religious – we’re scared we will be killed.  And for good reason.  Only when you admit the problem can you even hope to combat it.

As Ayaan Hirsi Ali has said, now is the time to ‘spread the risk’.

UPDATE: 09/01/15

The updated guidelines are in.  The relevant section reads:

Any content dealing with matters of religion and likely to cause offence to those with religious views and beliefs must be editorially justified as judged against generally accepted standards and must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.

To me, this seems like a long-winded way of refusing to clarify the actual issue at hand whilst keeping the previous position alive – but unstated.  I can’t help but think this has simply been an exercise in reducing the BBC’s embarrassment at having their cowardice and self censorship exposed in plain black & white for all to see.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

One Final Push For The 2014 #GFGS Charity Appeal

Back in 2013, I decided to launch a charitable fundraising initiative named ‘Good For Good’s Sake’.  The idea behind Team #GFGS is a simple one; regardless of what you do or don’t believe about anything else, all that is needed to do good is to agree that doing good is worthy for its own sake.  Gods, scripture and ancient tablets are not required to appreciate the importance of our fellow primates’ wellbeing.

Witnessing the good will and compassion emanating from a large number of atheists & humanists I interact with online, convinced me that this shared camaraderie could be harnessed into achieving something good together.  And you’ve proved me right time and time again.

Our first fundraising drive for Comic Relief raised £10,930, which put us at number 6 in the top ten UK fundraisers.

We followed this up with another drive for WaterAid.  Surely we couldn’t better our last effort, could we?  Well, we did, raising an incredible £11,843.03.

This was accomplished without any media attention or corporate backing whatsoever. Furthermore, no attempts were made to indoctrinate or demand acknowledgement of a specific worldview. We simply just wanted to do something good.

This brings me to our third and current fundraising effort for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).  The target amount1 is currently set to £2,000.

We’re within touching distance of this amount, but the fundraising will end Christmas Day 2014.  If you’re yet to donate and wish to be a part of something good, now is the time to do it!  Any amount is welcomed, and you can donate a number of different ways.

Donations can be made via PayPal, Credit or Debit Card, or by Texting2 from your mobile phone.

Just giving

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Thank you for all your support for Team #GFGS over the last two years.  Your generosity and passion is truly astounding!

  1. Update 03/12/2014 – The original target amount has been reached!  Given we seem to like a challenge, I’ve increased it to £2,250. 10/12/2014 – The target has been smashed yet again! I’ve increased to £2,500. Update 17/12/2014 – The Target has been smashed once more.  The new target is £3,000 Fundraising closes on 25/12/2014
  2. Please see the texting FAQ to ensure your country and network is supported to avoid any unwanted charges
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