Posts Tagged ‘humanists’

Raif Badawi, defending the right to self-expression & brutality of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Humanists believe in the human right of self-expression. Hence as I Humanist I deplore the treatment by Saudi Arabia of Raif Badawi.

The National Union of Journalists and Amnesty International are co-hosting a protest in solidarity with Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up a website championing free speech and facilitating public discussion. His lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is himself in prison, serving a 15-year sentence for his peaceful activism. Raif’s family, his wife and two children are exiled in Canada and the website has been shut down.

In the aftermath of the brutal slaughter of Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris we have witnessed a global outcry in defence of free speech. Millions marched in Paris and throughout France including the Saudi Ambassador to France – however the same freedoms are not extended to Raif Badawi. The treatment of Raif Badawi and the hypocrisy of the Saudi regime cannot be left unchallenged. Already international pressure has resulted in Badawi’s case being referred to the Supreme Court. However much more needs to be done.

The protest takes place this Thursday 22 January at 6.00 p.m. outside the Saudi Embassy on Fitzwilliam Square. Support Raif Badawi, lend your voice to global solidarity and defend freedom of speech.

Norah Casey The Meaning of Life

Monday, November 5th, 2012

That was a very moving final episode of the current series of Gay Byrne’s (RTE 1 television ) The Meaning of Life in which Gaybo interviewed Norah Casey, one year after the sad and sudden death of her beloved husband. It was touching, sad, honest, true and insightful, marred only by Gaybo’s cultural conditioning within Catholicism and seeming inability to transcend that limited and relatively recent (loopy) worldview. However, he remains a master of his broadcasting craft, verging on the peerless in fact. And I’m pretty sure I saw his eyes well up too at the raw grief evident still of Norah’s sad loss. It is true that Catholicism offers tools to help deal with grief – whether rattling off rosaries like a mantra, or the music and colour of the requiem mass. It’s just a pity that it often seems to hijack the human inevitability of death, as if the Catholic way is the only language of handling death when it clearly isn’t. And when, as is the case now, increasing numbers of people no longer believe in Catholic dogmas – happily – it can leave people floundering for an alternative rite of passage which is meaningful for post-Christians/unbelievers. True, humanists offer secular funeral services but as yet not so many people know about these. And Catholics have the advantage of dry/warm/sheltered church buildings in which to hold ceremonies for the bereaved. I wonder if they are sufficiently ‘catholic/universal’ to allow non-Catholics or former Catholics to shelter there from the elements on cold, rainy days to conduct secular funerals for bereaved fellow humans? Finally, Gaybo mentioned he’d never been present at anyone’s death and Norah seemed surprised. I was lucky/privileged enough to be present at the death of my father and my father-in-law, profound experiences both. Regardless of one’s religious/secular worldview, death is the one thing that unites us all. Each of us must die. How appalling that some religious people exclude people, even in death. It is not long ago that unbaptized infants could not be buried in ‘consecrated’ cemeteries and when crazy religious thinking  deemed such infants left to fester in ‘Limbo’. What unmitigated nonsense was taught to us and we, with our brains parked somewhere other than inside our heads, believed such waffle.