We have another outrage against women in Afghanistan where Shirin Gul, 26, was reportedly flogged to death in the Shahrak district of Ghor after being accused of running away from home. What is fascinating is how the greatest concern is not that a woman can be publicly flogged but whether the flogging proved too excessive under Islamic law. Recently, a 19-year-old woman was stoned to death in Ghor.
We have long discussed the rapid decline of free speech protections in the West. I have long argued that the West appears to have fallen out of love with free speech, which is more often viewed as a rising scourge rather than a defining value in some countries. A recent poll of the Pew Research Center shows just how many people we have lost to those calling for greater censorship and criminalization of speech. It is not surprisingly more prevalent with younger age groups, though Democrats are almost twice as likely favor censorship that Republicans. The largest (and most alarming) group is the millennials — 40% of whom favor government censorship of speech offensive to minority groups.
The Obama Administration has responded critically to the decision from an Israeli court to give an Israeli border police officer just community service for his entirely unjustified attack on an American teenager. Tariq Khdeir, 15, a Palestinian-American, was beaten by the officer, whose name has been withheld by the courts to avoid any further repercussions for him or his family. The beating was filmed after the officer caught the teenager near a riot in East Jerusalem in July 2014. Despite this evidence (and no evidence of just cause) the Israeli court gave the officer just 45 days of community service and a suspended prison term of four months.
We have long discussed our close alliance with Saudi Arabia despite that country’s denial of the most fundamental human rights for women, non-Muslims, journalists, and political dissidents. While the State Department continues to vaguely reference “reforms” in the Kingdom, the Saudi Sharia courts and religious police continue to generate shocking medieval cases where people are flogged or executed for exercising free thought or associations. The latest outrage is the death sentence given Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s contemporary art scene. He has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam, being an atheist (which he denies) and insulting Saudi Arabia. Many view his real offense as being his embarrassment of the infamous religious police (mutaween) in Abha after he posted a video of their lashing a man in public. As is often the case in the pseudo, “courts” of Saudi Arabia, he was denied counsel and any real opportunity to present a defense.
It appears that the Obama Administrations is not alone in pursuing journalists in the search for whistleblowers and leakers. Emiliano Fittipaldi has revealed that he has been interrogated and faces charges from Holy See prosecutors. He was given a Vatican summons to appear to answer questions about his recently published book “Avarice.”
Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, appears to have rushed to show that extremists can be found on every side of a massacre. After the Paris attacks, Lior rushed forward to tell the world that the attacks were actually directed by God as payment for what Europeans “did to our people 70 years ago.” It does not seem to matter to Lior that France was one of the first to fight against Germany and was left in ruins by the Nazis. It does not even matter that this view of God would make the almighty as morally bankrupt and vicious as ISIS. In Lior’s twisted mind, murderous Islamic extremists were used by God to kill innocent people for the treatment of Jews in the 1940s. Makes perfect sense. It is truly impressive that extremists like Lior cannot resist seeing divine purpose in every act, even using ISIS as a vehicle for divine justice for Jews.
Dan Kimmel, 63, may have come up with the worst possible campaign statement for someone running as a candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives. The Democratic candidate tweeted that the Islamic State group “isn’t necessarily evil” and its members were doing what they thought was best for their community. Not only is the tweet bizarre but it occurred shortly before the massacre that left more than 120 people dead and more than 350 wounded in Paris by ISIS. Kimmel has since resigned from the race.