Student in Egypt Gets 3-Year Jail Term for Insulting Islam

The idea that I’ve been seeing around the web lately that only the terrorists, who are not even real Muslims, are the ones who hate freedom needs to be re-evaluated when you see stories like this.

Cairo (AFP) – An Egyptian court has sentenced a student to three years in jail for announcing on Facebook that he is an atheist and for insulting Islam, his lawyer said Sunday.

Karim al-Banna, a 21-year-old whose own father testified against him, was jailed by a court in the Nile Delta province of Baheira on Saturday, lawyer Ahmed Abdel Nabi told AFP.

“He was handed down a three-year prison sentence, and if he pays a bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($ 140 or 117 euros) the sentence can be suspended until a verdict is issued by an appeals court,” Abdel Nabi said, adding that an appeal was to be heard on March 9.

Abdel Nabi said his client’s father had testified against his son, charging that he “was embracing extremist ideas against Islam”.

Banna’s name had appeared in a list of known atheists in a local daily after which his neighbours harassed him, said Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher on religion and beliefs at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Je Suis Charlie

I’ll post updates periodically in this thread about the immense rally in Paris and throughout France aujourd’hui.

March for Unity: Over 40 world leaders, up to 1.5mn rally in Paris against extremism

Up to 1.5 million are marching through Paris in solidarity with the 17 victims of the attack at Charlie Hebdo, and the atrocities that followed in three days of terror. Over 40 world leaders joined the “cry for freedom” rally.

And London:

Three Days That Shook France: How Police Hunted Paris Killers

From Bloomberg:

Fifty-three hours into France’s worst security crisis in a generation, President Francois Hollande and his closest advisers came to an agonizing conclusion.

Gathered to supervise the response to a pair of attacks by Islamist terrorists, they were told by police commanders over secure cell phones that the resolution would have to involve simultaneous assaults. That meant synchronizing special-forces teams 25 miles apart against opponents armed with automatic weapons, a rocket launcher and no qualms about more killing.

At about 4 p.m. on Jan. 9, Hollande was seated at the oval wooden conference table in his Elysee Palace office with Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira. A window was open to the garden, taking advantage of unseasonably warm weather. Chief of Staff Jean-Pierre Jouyet shuttled in and out of the room as the Elysee military attache, General Benoit Puga, was advising the president on his decision.

Hollande never gave the order. Events spiraled too fast, as government officials and eyewitnesses later recounted.

By the time the shooting ended just over an hour later, three terrorists were dead, bringing the body count of victims and perpetrators during the three-day crisis to 20.

Supermarket Employee Hid Customers During Paris Attack


A Muslim supermarket employee is being hailed as a hero after he hid customers during the Jewish grocery store massacre that left four dead in Paris on Friday.

Lassana Bathily, 24, a store employee and a Muslim man from Mali, led 15 people downstairs to safety, hiding several inside a freezer in the grocery’s basement, according to French broadcaster BFMTV.

“I went down to the freezer, I opened the door, there were several people who went in with me. I turned off the light and the freezer,” Bathily told the television station. “I brought them inside and I told them to stay calm here, I’m going to go out. When they got out, they thanked me.”

Gunman Amedy Coulibaly, 32, killed four when he opened fire on the store before taking hostages. Police later stormed the store in an eruption of gunshots and explosions, rescuing 15 hostages and killing Coulibaly.

Maher, Salman Rushdie on Islam: ‘When There’s This Many Bad Apples,’ Orchard’s Rotten

From Mediaite:

Maher went down a line of terrorist attacks since 9/11, and both he and Rushdie agreed this is more than a “mutation” in the Muslim religion. Maher brought up his infamous debate with Ben Affleck, wherein Sam Harris called Islam “the motherlode of bad ideas,” and Maher claimed, “The terrorists and the mainstream share a lot of these bad ideas.”

Rushdie was personally bothered by the “I’m for free speech, but…” brigade, coming out in defense of Charlie Hebdo… sort of. He told Maher the West must not “give a fucking inch” when it comes to free expression and standing against such radicalism. Besides, he asked, “what would a respectful political cartoon look like?”

Stephen Fry – “You MUST mock”

An excellent read from Stephen Fry that I agree with wholeheartedly:

I cannot be sure exactly how many people have seen one or more of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that “insult” Islam or mock its prophet since the murders, but I should imagine the number is now in the tens of millions. Had the brothers stayed their bloody hands it would have been 60,000 at the very most. Mohammed must be very cross indeed that his two cretinous representatives have spread the ‘insults’ so far and so wide. If Said and Cherif Kouachi had had a grain of sense in their terminally moronic heads they could have foreseen that their actions would create secular martyrs, propagate those images they so disliked and increase yet again reasonable people’s dislike of the faith they claimed (rightly or wrongly) to represent.

I have been told on twitter that the staff of Charlie Hebdo spewed ‘hate’. It is exceptionally important to remember that what they actually spewed, if you want to use that word, was contempt. Contempt for Islam, for Christianity, for Judaism – for anything they could have a go at. They were often, in the weasel word of our age, ‘inappropriate’. Their cartoons bordered on racist and repulsive. Had I been a Parisian I don’t doubt I would be a regular reader of Le Canard Enchainé (which approximates our venerable and superb Private Eye) and that I would look down my Parisian nose at readers of so vulgar and sophomoric an effusion as Charlie H.

But what has that to do with anything? I remember all those years ago when the fatwa was declared on Salman Rushdie, plenty of British writers and commentators who absolutely should have known better claimed that The Satanic Verses ‘really wasn’t that good’, the implication being that it was therefore hardly worth making a stand against the death sentence laid on its author. As it happens (not that it matters of course) … The Satanic Verses is one of the great post-war comic novels. Similar horrible nonsense was spouted recently by some on the subject of the Sony film The Interview. ‘Oh, it’s actually rather poor.’