Tomás Ó Flatharta

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We are all Salman Rushdie

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The New York attempt to assassinate the writer Salman Rushdie means statements of solidarity are required.

Two declarations posted below come from the United States of America. PEN America is a branch of the worldwide association of writers which stands for

the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in the country and community to which they belong, as well as throughout the world wherever this is possible https://pen-international.org/who-we-are/the-pen-charter

From Ayad Akhtar, PEN America President It is hard to find words to express the emotions occasioned by today’s shocking attack on Salman Rushdie.

As a former President of our organization, Salman means so much to us. His leadership in the wake of 9/11 set the course for the two decades which have followed. He has been and remains a tireless advocate for imperiled writers, for unfettered intellectual and creative exchange, and one of the last half-century’s great champions of freedom of expression. But it is in his own truly seminal, challenging body of work that Salman has stood most powerfully for the values of PEN America—work that has questioned founding myths and expanded the world’s imaginative possibilities, at great cost to himself.

On a more personal note, as a writer whose own work is fundamentally shaped by an early encounter with The Satanic Verses, it is particularly horrifying to me that the nightmare set in motion by the fatwa in 1989 is still with us. We are all thinking of Salman today across the PEN America community, and praying for his recovery.Salman Rushdie delivering the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at the 2012 World Voices Festival, which he co-founded. Read his remarks on censorship here.“Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.” —Salman Rushdie, “On Censorship” 

The second declaration is a publication of Feminist Dissent :

Rushdie’s Right to Write, Our Right to Dissent

As Salman Rushdie lies gravely injured in hospital, Feminist Dissent expresses sorrow at the brutal attack on him and on Ralph Henry Reese in New York state on August 12, 2022, at an event focusing on asylum for writers. It is our fervent hope that Salman will recover to write and live a full life again. We send our love and solidarity to him, his family and friends around the world and to all those whose lives have also been endangered by this renewed threat to freedom.

Many of us are founders of Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF) which defended Rushdie in the wake of the fatwa issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 following the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. Against the demonstrations that attacked Rushdie for having hurt Muslim sentiments and calls for his book to be burnt, WAF argued that women’s right to dissent was deeply intertwined with Rushdie’s right to write.

We knew then as we know now that many calling for Rushdie’s murder were the same fundamentalist leaders who contributed to women’s oppression within communities. We spoke out in the name of our secular traditions, with the banner ‘Our tradition, struggle not submission.’

WAF was equally committed to anti-racist politics that opposed the demonisation of all Muslims as fanatical, as it was to challenging fundamentalism in all religions—Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Muslim. It called out the ways in which fundamentalists were exploiting patriarchal power to control women and sexual minorities.

Unfortunately, the dangers that we warned against then are still among us and yet, too often, they are not named. Authoritarian and fundamentalist forces are stronger than ever.

We are not only devastated by the attack on Rushdie’s life, we are angry. We are angry at the failure of both the left and the right to take a stand for freedom of speech and conscience, and to advocate for the abolition of blasphemy and apostasy laws.

All those who believe in universal values should hold to account states such as Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia which have promoted hate, organised vigilantes to attack writers, and kept alive the concept of blasphemy. 

No individual Muslim should be held responsible for the actions of another. In fact, people of Muslim heritage are often at the forefront of struggles for socialism, secularism and against blasphemy laws, yet too often their struggles are mocked and diminished as pro-imperialist or Islamophobic. We stand with them, and the struggle for secularism everywhere.

We call out Muslim fundamentalist organisations (including those in western countries) that advocate death to blasphemers such as atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, while complaining that any criticism of them is Islamophobic. We need to stop treating them as advocates of human rights.

We call out those sections of the left that see Islamists as anti-imperialist allies and attack Rushdie as a stooge of the West. Organised violence against artists, writers, feminists and free-thinking dissidents has been alchemised by post-truth politics into support for the suppression of ‘offence’. We recall the refusal of many writers to support their own organisation PEN’s award to the murdered journalists of Charlie Hebdo. In refusing solidarity, they helped create a world in which it was possible for writers or teachers to be murdered with barely an eyebrow raised in polite society.

Salman Rushdie has always understood the importance of opposing all forms of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism. He supports persecuted artists everywhere, from Ukrainians fleeing war to murdered bloggers and cartoonists.

In 1989, about 40 women of Women Against Fundamentalism confronted a huge fundamentalist march demanding death to Salman Rushdie, and the banning of his book. We shouted ‘Salman Rushdie Zindabad’ and today we repeat, ‘Long Live Salman Rushdie’.

Note: The next issue of Feminist Dissent is on Freedom of Expression. Stay tuned. https://feministdissent.org/blog-posts/rushdies-right-to-write/

Palestine, Tel Aviv : “There is no Pride in the Occupation”

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Thanks to Joan McKiernan for circulating this report.

Source : https://mailchi.mp/refuser/refusers-solidarity-15034809?e=2a6ffdecef

My name is Ayelet. I’m a 16 years old trans teen and an activist in the Mesarvot network, an Israeli Network supporting war resisters and political objectors. Last Friday (June 10th), at the Israeli pride parade in Tel Aviv, I was arrested for holding the Palestinian flag with the slogan “there is no pride in the occupation” in Hebrew (see below picture of my sign).

“There is no Pride in the Occupation”

I made this sign not only to show my objection to the Israeli occupation of the West bank and the Gaza strip, but also to protest the way the Israeli government uses the LGBTQ+ community to justify the occupation. The government uses Pinkwashing – displaying superficial support for LGBTQ+ rights in order to justify horrible actions. In actuality, Israel supports gay rights only when people from our community are supportive of the state’s actions. For example, a trans woman who is a soldier will be able to receive hormonal treatment, but a trans woman who is an army refuser will be sent to a men’s prison for her refusal.

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Improving Science Literacy – And Supporting Mass Vaccination to Fight CoVid-19

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This blog offers two very good quotations and an illustration to act as a helpful political and personal guide. Origin of the quotations? I do not personally know the authors. I wish to thank a Greek comrade, Kostas Skordoulis, who started the relevant Facebook discussion. The cartoon is just brilliant.

No. Most lay people don’t have the tools to “question the science”. They are just deluding themselves. Just look at any flat earther video. The emphasis should be on improving science literacy so people can learn to identify media misrepresentation of studies, or how to spot weak or obviously flawed studies, or to follow trustworthy sources, instead of thinking they are some modern day Galileo.

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Roy Greenslade – Destroyed Communities and a powerful man who said “sorry”

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Facts, stubborn things, are the friends of good journalists.

Smears, slippery things, are the friends of anti-journalists.

Anti-Journalism

Roy Greenslade, then editor of Robert Maxwell’s Daily Mirror, ran a smear campaign against Arthur Scargill, leader of the British Miners’ Union (the NUM) in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Ten years later Mr Greenslade said sorry. https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Roy_Greenslade

The unimpressed film-maker Ken Loach wrote a caustic letter to the British Guardian on May 31 2002.

Dear Roy Greenslade, it was good to read your apology about the Arthur Scargill story (Sorry, Arthur, Media, May 27). I wonder if you remember our film for Dispatches, which exposed those lies in, I think, 1991. It seems a bit late to come clean now.

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Apologies and Recantations – The Strange Cases of two Elected Representatives from Ireland and England – Brian Stanley TD (Sinn Féin, Ireland) and Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour Party, England)

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We start with a tip, and two savage cartoons.

All political apologisers – such as the Sinn Féin Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley – forced to swallow and spit out his words of praise for IRA ambushes in 1920 and 1979 – do not believe any of the sentences they are forced to utter in humiliating public recantations!

Memorial Statue at Kilmichael Co. Cork, Commemorating an IRA 1920 Ambush of Black-and-Tan British Crown Forces

Nobody ever believes the recantation :

The same applies to apologies uttered under duress by former British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Steve Bell’s Cartoon, Banned by the British Guardian Newspaper
Steve Bell’s Cartoon, Banned by the British Guardian Newspaper?

Nobody believes the apologies. The effect is to censor debate on issues which ought to be publicly aired.

Every honest person knows Brian Stanley’s Kilmichael/Narrow Water Tweet about British soldiers successfully ambushed by the IRA in Ireland – Black-and-Tans (1920) and Parachute Regiment (1979) – is a public picture of his own personal opinion and the opinions of many members of his own party.

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