Posts Tagged ‘self-expression’

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.

Censoring priests and the Vatican’s breach of UN Declaration of Human Rights

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Does it not bother Catholics that what they hear from their priests and bishops isn’t necessarily what those selfsame clerics actually think or believe themselves? Or that those who mouth the Vatican line might have more akin to parrots than pastors?

Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights enshrines self-expression as a fundamental human right: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

Does it bother you that well-known and unknown Irish Roman Catholic priests, are, as we speak, denied that fundamental human right by the Vatican?

If it is true that books have been bought and pulped on the instruction of the Vatican, does that not unnerve anyone? Can anyone think of other regimes that burned books and suppressed ideas?

The trite argument that priests signed up to a body of belief and that they can’t pick and choose is simplistic and silly. For instance, the tradition of a married priesthood has a longer tradition within the Roman Catholic Church than that of compulsory celibacy. The ‘you-can’t-pick-and-choose’ brigade might remember that when they cling limpet-like to the Vatican’s current stance.

Does anyone really want their priests to be unthinking indoctrinated automatons who have abandoned their intelligence and critical faculties to become mindless minions of the Vatican?

There are those who argue that priests who can’t swallow the Vatican’s current dictates should simply leave. Simply? What of a man who has spent his entire adult life as a priest? A man who is entirely financially dependent upon the Church, without whose priesthood he has no job, no professional identity and no wife or children to go home to?

Besides, why should thinking Catholic priests allow the current Vatican clique to usurp onto themselves the mantle of Catholicism? The Vatican manifestly breaches the Church’s own teaching on conscience. Thomas Aquinas was clear that one must always follow one’s conscience even when it means disobeying the pope. The current repressive, censoring, anti-free speech, anti-discussion Vatican regime has little in common with the openness engendered by Pope John XXIII or the vision of the the Second Vatican Council.

Given that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, are we to stand idly by while the Vatican violates that basic human right through its censoring and silencing of fellow Irish citizens?

Hitler, Stalin and Mao burned books and silenced dissent. Chilly company, Benedict.