An Alabama senator who goes by the wonderful name of Shadrack McGill – sounds as though it comes from L’il Abner or Damon Runyon – has stated that school teachers should not get a rise in salary because the Bible says so!
A row has broken out in the Indian capital over whether Delhi University should teach a controversial essay about the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. The essay by the well-known scholar AK Ramanujan was dropped from the history syllabus earlier this week after protests from Hindu hardline groups. The article describes 300 different retellings of the epic story found in India and other Asian countries. Protesters say the versions recounted in the essay offend Hindu beliefs.
At least 30 people were killed in a series of bomb attacks in central Iraq targeting Shia pilgrims marking the festival of Ashura, officials say. In the deadliest attack, a car packed with explosives blew up as a procession of pilgrims passed through the al-Nil area, north of the city of Hilla. The violence came a day before the climax of Ashura, when Shia Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, in a 7th Century battle outside Karbala. Ashura has witnessed serious sectarian violence since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, with pilgrims often targeted by Sunni extremists.
A hundred and forty six people killed in a single bomb attack in Nigeria by an Islamic group calling themselves Boko Haram which I believe translates as ‘western education is a sin.’
I have been sent a photograph of a mass wedding in Ontario Canada, twenty four happy couples and yes, indeed, the grooms all look exceedingly happy but what about the brides? The brides? What brides? Where are he brides? Someone has captioned it ‘I hope they take the right tablecloth home,’ and indeed it would be a surprise to find you have picked up someone else’s wife.
What do the words sex, lavender, flatulence, quickie, butt, mango and pud have in common? They are among more than 1,000 words deemed so obscene by the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority that mobile phone companies have been instructed to delete them from all text messages. It is a decision that has left many in Pakistan unsure whether to be staggered, amused or outraged. Social media sites such as Twitter have been flooded with posts about the decision. Some Pakistanis have expressed their delight and gratitude, saying the list has taught them so many forbidden words and provided such a source of mirth. Some people are simply curious - they want to know what an "ass puppy" is or the vile significance of "Yellowman", reportedly the final word on the list. The only reference to Yellowman I can find on the internet is the pseudonym of a Jamaican reggae dj so why that is obscene is beyond me. But there is anger at the decision too. Censorship in Pakistan has a rich history, from public lashings of journalists and those who were anti-regime in the 1980s to people getting shot in public places for religious beliefs. For many, this is just the latest and most bizarre twist, in a culture where freedom of expression is hard fought. But many people have picked up on inconsistencies: the banned list includes every conceivable incorrectly spelled version of "masturbation". Bizarrely, if spelt correctly, the word is not banned. What many people want to know is who is the creative genius behind this list of words? What anonymous bureaucrat has toiled over this list of more than 500 Urdu and 1,000 English expletives and other words for the love of decency in telecommunications?
An Australian man has been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in prison after being convicted of blasphemy by judges in Saudi Arabia. Officials in Canberra said they had been in touch with the Saudi authorities to request leniency. The man had travelled to the country for a pilgrimage to Mecca. The charges have not been stated. His son said he doubted his father would survive fifty lashes let alone five hundred. Is there anyone who could survive five hundred lashes? It’s a death sentence. And so it goes on and on and on and on and on.