Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How dating app algorithms contribute to racial bias

We are not allowed to prefer partners similar to ourselves, apparently.  Typical leftist authoritarianism

Nikki Chapman remembers finding her now-husband through online dating website Plenty of Fish in 2008. Kay Chapman had sent her a message.

"I looked at his profile and thought he was really cute," Nikki Chapman said. "He asked me who my favourite Power Ranger was, and that is what made me respond to him. I thought that was kind of cool – it was something that was near and dear to me from when I was a kid." The Ilinois couple now have two kids of their own: son Liam is 7, and daughter Abie is 1.

Looking back, Chapman recalls the dating site asking about race, which she doesn't think should matter when it comes to compatibility. It didn't for her; she is white, and Kay is African-American.

"Somebody has to be open-minded in order to accept somebody into their lives, and unfortunately not everybody is," she said.

Researchers at Cornell University looked to decode dating app bias in their recent paper, Debiasing Desire: Addressing Bias and Discrimination on Intimate Platforms.

In it, they argue dating apps that let users filter their searches by race – or rely on algorithms that pair up people of the same race – reinforce racial divisions and biases. They said existing algorithms can be tweaked in a way that makes race a less important factor and helps users branch out from what they typically look for.

"There's a lot of evidence that says people don't actually know what they want as much as they think they do, and that intimate preferences are really dynamic, and they can be changed by all types of factors, including how people are presented to you on a dating site," said Jessie Taft, a research coordinator at Cornell Tech. "There's a lot of potential there for more imagination, introducing more serendipity and designing these platforms in a way that encourages exploration rather than just sort of encouraging people to do what they would normally already do."

Taft and his team downloaded the 25 most popular dating apps (based on number of iOS installs as of 2017). It included apps like OKCupid, Grindr, Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel. They looked at the apps' terms of service, their sorting and filtering features, and their matching algorithms – all to see how design and functionality decisions could affect bias against people of marginalised groups.

They found that matching algorithms are often programmed in ways that define a "good match" based on previous "good matches". In other words, if a user had several good Caucasian matches in the past, the algorithm is more likely to suggest Caucasian people as "good matches" in the future.

Algorithms also often take data from past users to make decisions about future users – in a sense, making the same decision over and over again. Taft argues that's harmful because it entrenches those norms. If past users made discriminatory decisions, the algorithm will continue on the same, biased trajectory.

"When somebody gets to filter out a whole class of people because they happen to check the box that says (they're) some race, that completely eliminates that you even see them as potential matches. You just see them as a hindrance to be filtered out, and we want to make sure that everybody gets seen as a person rather than as an obstacle," Taft said.

"There's more design theory research that says we can use design to have pro-social outcomes that make people's lives better than just sort of letting the status quo stand as it is."

Other data shows that racial disparities exist in online dating. A 2014 study by dating website OKCupid found that black women received the fewest messages of all of its users. According to Christian Rudder, OKCupid co-founder, Asian men had a similar experience. And a 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that users were more likely to respond to a romantic message sent by someone of a different race than they were to initiate contact with someone of a different race.

Taft said that when users raise these issues to dating platforms, companies often respond by saying it's simply what users want.

"When what most users want is to dehumanise a small group of users, then the answer to that issue is not to rely on what most users want... Listen to that small group of individuals who are being discriminated against, and try to think of a way to help them use the platform in a way that ensures that they get equal access to all of the benefits that intimate life entails," Taft said. "We want them to be treated equitably, and often the way to do that is not just to do what everybody thinks is most convenient."

He said dating sites and apps are making progress – some have revamped their community guidelines to explicitly state that their site is a discrimination-free zone (users who use hateful messaging are then banned). Others are keeping the race/ethnicity filter but also adding new categories by which to sort. Taft hopes the people making design decisions will read his team's paper and at least keep the conversation going.

"There's a lot of options out there," Nikki Chapman said. "I remember filling out on an app, 'What hair colour are you interested in? What income level? What level of education?' If you're going to be that specific, then you need to go build a doll or something because life and love doesn't work like that."


Preachers of hate prey on our liberal values

Fanatics like Choudary can’t be stopped unless we use illiberal measures to defend ourselves

melanie phillips

What do you do with a problem like Anjem Choudary? In 2016, he was jailed for five and a half years for inviting support for Islamic State. Last Friday, he was released on licence halfway through his sentence.

Choudary, who emerged from prison reportedly reaffirming his support for Isis, is no run-of-the-mill extremist. He has arguably had more influence on radicalising British Muslims than has any other Islamist.

His al-Muhajiroun network, which was banned in 2005 but subsequently mutated into a series of other proscribed radical groupings, was linked to one of the two men who hacked to death off-duty soldier Lee Rigby in 2013 and also influenced one of the perpetrators of the 2017 London Bridge terrorist attack.

The prisons minister Rory Stewart has described Choudary as a “genuinely dangerous person” who remains a “deeply pernicious, destabilising influence”.

The unprecedented threat he is said to pose has led to unprecedented measures, at an estimated cost of more than £2 million a year, to prevent him from doing any more harm. His release is governed by more than 20 licence conditions, including electronic tagging, night curfew, restrictions on phone and internet use and bans on preaching, speaking to the media and travelling outside the M25.

Yet he will live in a probation hostel only for up to six months, after which he will probably move in with his wife (although with the restrictions still in place).

It is astonishing that such a man should be released from prison so soon. That’s because of a loophole in the law. Early release from jail for prisoners who serve the second half of their sentence on licence was introduced in 1967 to cut the prison population. Under the existing law, certain terrorism-related offenders can be required to serve two-thirds of their sentence in prison or may be kept in custody until the end of their sentence at the discretion of the Parole Board.

This extended jail term, though, only applies to terrorism offences that involve weapons or violence or are linked to an actual act of terrorism, none of which applied in Choudary’s case.

Yet the threat he poses remains severe. Richard Walton, a former head of Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism command, says: “I believe we are underestimating the potency and danger of the radicalisers who don’t carry knives, guns and overtly plot terrorist attacks but who pollute the minds of young Muslim men.”

A new law going through parliament would close this loophole. A wider set of terrorism-linked offenders would not get automatic early release if they continue to pose a risk. They might be subject to an extended licence period of up to eight years, during which they could be sent back to jail if they breach its conditions.

This will help, but it won’t solve the problem. For when the sentence finally comes to an end, then what? When Choudary’s sentence expires in 2021, the severe restrictions on him will also end, although he will be subject to other, lesser requirements through being a registered terrorist offender.

We can be sure the police and security service will continue to monitor him. Yet anti-Islamists are convinced he will nevertheless resume spreading his lethal message even while restrictions are in place.

Choudary avoided arrest for many years by exploiting legal loopholes. Few believe the threat he poses will now be neutralised, despite the heavy cost to the public purse of the attempt to do so.

So what else could be done to stop him? Many think Britain should revoke his citizenship and throw him out of the country. But he is a British subject who was born in the UK and the law upholds the principle that no one should be made stateless.

The problem he represents, although unusually severe, is far from unique. The police and security service are facing a surge in convicted terrorism-related offenders. More than 80 of the 193 terms issued for such offences between 2007 and 2016 will expire by the end of the year and early release means the number of such individuals on the streets will be much higher.

Yet every government move to increase the reach of the law to deal with this threat is bitterly resisted on civil liberties grounds.

Here lies the potentially self-destructive paradox of a liberal society. Sometimes it can only defend itself adequately if it takes illiberal measures. If it refuses to do so it may put its citizens in harm’s way and place its own liberal order in jeopardy.

The usual argument is that if we breach our liberal values the terrorists will have won. That’s not, however, how they see it. Their goal is not to destroy liberal values. It is to destroy liberal individuals and their entire society.

The security service says the Islamist terrorism threat is “intense and unrelenting”. Ultimately society must decide where it stands in response to this.

Either it compromises on its liberal principles in order to defend British citizens and liberal society; or, if liberal purity is all-important, it must accept that this means conniving in further terrorist violence and cultural intimidation.

Increasingly it’s a choice we will have to make. We can’t have it both ways.


The enraged, man-hating feminism of today has nothing to do with advancing women

Feminist icon Camille Paglia believes the modern-day feminism recreated by Betty Friedan in the ‘60s hit “a wall of closed minds,” and thus represents the collapse of Western Civilization. She’s right on the mark.

Speaking at the Battle of Ideas festival in London in October 2016, Paglia made it clear how far feminism has fallen from its high-water mark almost a hundred years ago:

“The period of the 1920s, 1930s: that to me is my favorite period in feminism because these women admired what men had done. There was no male bashing as became systemic to Second Wave feminism. It’s an absolute poison that has spread worldwide.”

“A feminism based on denigrating men, trivializing what men have done, defining men as oppressors and tyrants through history it is an absolute lie.”

To be fair, the reemergence of this video is no coincidence: Paglia has released a new book, Provocations: Collected Essays, and the video will help draw attention to it. Yet it is hard to dispute her assertions, especially when she refers to the original feminist movement that won women the right to vote and saw iconic women such as Katharine Hepburn, Amelia Earhart, Dorothy Parker, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh as “great achievers.”

Today’s feminists? Paglia believes the current generation of women has been tainted by an education system that “tried to make everyone feel good,” and social media “where people feel they have so many 'friends’ and they want a sense that reality is comforting them and cushioning them and so on.” She notes that when she went to college in the mid ‘60s she and her fellow feminists were willing to “risk rape” rather than maintain a system whereby college administrators acted “in loco parentis” for women, while male students were treated as adults.

By contrast, today’s women are “easily upset,” even as they remain unaware of the “barbarities of human history,” and she contends this lack of historical perspective gives them “no sense of the special privileges they enjoy.”

It’s worse than that. Like so much of the progressive ideology that forms the backbone of modern-day feminism, a virulent combination of infantilism and hateful hysteria has taken over the movement. Today’s feminists parade themselves around in vagina costumes, and pussy hats, insist women can have penises, and advocate for witchcraft therapy to “process trauma, anger, and grief” — all while expecting to be taken seriously.

When it comes to the Rule of Law and the Constitution, they believe men should “shut up,” due process should be tossed on the ash heap of history, and women who make accusations of sexual assault should be deemed “survivors.”

Survivors whose accusations require unquestioning belief, irrespective of evidence or credibility.

If not? A Washington Post op-ed entitled “Thanks for not raping us, all you 'good men.’ But it’s not enough,” written by Victoria Bissell Brown epitomizes the collective male-bashing that is precisely the “absolute poison” to which Paglia refers. “In the centuries of feminist movements that have washed up and away, good men have not once organized their own mass movement to change themselves and their sons or to attack the mean-spirited, teasing, punching thing that passes for male culture,” Brown asserts. “Not once. Bastards.”

And aside from her anger, Brown, who is “almost 70 years old,” embraces another attribute that defines modern-day feminism: self-pity. “The gender war that has broken out in this country is flooding all our houses,” she declares. “It’s rising on the torrent of memories that every woman has. … Not just memories of sexual abuse. Memories of being dismissed, disdained, distrusted. Memories of having to endure put-downs at the office, catcalls in the parking lot, barked orders at a dinner party. And, for some reason, the most chilling memory of all, the one Christine Blasey Ford called up and that we all recognized: the laughter. The laughter of men who are bonding with each other by mocking us.”

In a 2017 interview, American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers coined the most apt description of women like Brown and their fatuous assumptions that all women are fragile and easily traumatized: “fainting couch feminism.”

As for mockery, no one wields that club more forcefully than feminists themselves — against other women. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley, was attacked for standing in “ignorance, loyalty, & whiteness by her predator man.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who refused to allow unsubstantiated allegations stand in the way of Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Court, was referred to by other women as a “betrayer,” “the face of the generation I can’t wait to die,” and someone who should never “have a moment of peace in public again.”

As always, some women are “more equal” than others.

That kind of rank hypocrisy is driven by ideology with conservative women invariably getting the short end of the stick. Nonetheless, the dividers remain unsatisfied: race is now part of the equation as well, and white women per se are the target. White women who “put their racial privilege ahead of their second-class gender status in 2016 by voting to uphold a system that values only their whiteness, just as they have for decades,” asserted NY Times columnist Alexis Grenell. White women who “have often played the protagonists in the history of sexual violence,” while “black women have been relegated to the supporting cast,” as Allyson Hobbs, director of African and African-American studies at Stanford University put it. White women who “use strategic tears to silence women of colour,” as the Guardian stated.

Unsurprisingly, much of this animus was engendered by the same thing that has driven the entire American Left into paroxysms of uncontrollable hysteria: the election of Donald Trump. “Exit polls showed 52 percent of white women backed Donald Trump, and much sorrowful tsk-tsking ensued,” writes Kyle Smith. “Sorrow turned to disbelief. Disbelief turned to rage.”

Why would white women vote for Trump? Maybe it’s because Hillary Clinton was just as contemptuous of them as her fellow racial arsonists. “They will be under tremendous pressure — and I’m talking principally about white women,” she said in 2016. “They will be under tremendous pressure from fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for ‘the girl.’”

That would be “the girl” who dismissed credible (and ultimately proven) allegations by women against her own husband as a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

Thus, feminists might consider that Clinton’s rank hypocrisy and contemptible double standards were more important to voters than her gender. They might also note those character traits remain unchanging: despite Clinton’s insistence that Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser “deserves the benefit of the doubt,” she remains convinced that Bill shouldn’t have resigned, and that his relationship with then-22-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky was not an abuse of power.

Paglia believes the bankruptcy of modern-day feminism stems from “getting rid of the orthodox religions because they were too conservative” and replacing them with “the new religion of political correctness.” Thus, she concludes Second Wave feminists resemble the “Spanish Inquisition” where “any form of dissent is treated as heresy, and they actually try to destroy you.”

Actually, modern-day feminism is destroying itself.


The Extremists' Slaughter of Christians Inside Churches

Indonesia: Six suicide bombers from one Muslim family attacked three churches on May 13, during Sunday Mass services; at least 11 worshippers were killed. The suicide bombers consisted of a father, mother, and four children, two boys and two girls, aged 9,12, 16, and 18. According to the report:

"More than 40 people were injured in the blasts. The first attack that killed four people, including one or more bombers, occurred at the Santa Maria Roman Catholic Church... The father of the family accused of carrying out the suicide bombing had detonated a car bomb during his attack. The incident was followed by a second explosion at the Christian Church of Diponegoro that killed two people. In a third attack, at Pantekosta Church, two more died, police said."

A witness described one of the attacks, where the mother and the two youngest jihadis detonated themselves. Because she was carrying two suspicious bags (apparently of explosives), "officers blocked them in front of the churchyard, but the woman ignored them and forced her way inside. Suddenly (the bomb) exploded." The father "was very active in the mosque," said an acquaintance; "he never missed any of the five daily prayers, but he avoided discussing religion." "The four children were studying in schools run by the Muhammadiyah," long thought the most moderate Islamic school in Indonesia, said a family neighbor. "To me they were normal people," he added.

Russia: Four gunmen stormed a church in Grozny, the capital of Russia's Muslim-majority Republic of Chechnya, and killed three people, a churchgoer and two police officers, on May 19. The attackers — who were also armed with knives, hatchets and homemade explosives — were also killed in the gunfire exchange with security forces at the Church of Michael the Archangel. According to the report:

"It was not immediately clear whether there was any link between the attackers and extremist groups. But Chechnya has experienced attacks by Islamist extremists before, including those who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Women and men from majority Muslim areas of Russia, including Chechnya, have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State there, and dozens have begun to return as the group has lost most of its territory.... Grozny once had a substantial ethnic Russian, Christian population but most of them fled during the wars. The church that was attacked Saturday is in the center of the city and was at the heart of some of the battles of the 1990s."

Three months earlier, a report entitled, "ISIS Tells Muslims to Kidnap and Murder Christians in Russian-Occupied Areas," had been published.

Central African Republic: Armed Muslims opened fire on, and hurled grenades at, a Catholic church on May 1. They killed between 16 and 24 people and injured 170. According to one report:

"Former members of a Muslim militia killed at least 16 people in an attack on a church in the Central African Republic... Notre Dame of Fatima, a Roman Catholic church in the capital, Bangui, was attacked Tuesday morning with grenades and gunfire by men allied with a rebel group once known as Seleka, an Islamic faction whose takeover of Bangui five years ago set off the country's continuing conflict."

A later report said, "at least 24 were killed and 170 injured by militants who sprayed bullets into the crowd and detonated grenades." This is "the second Catholic priest to be killed in about a month in the CAR [Central African Republic]. The murdered priest's church lies just outside the predominantly Muslim PK5 district of Bangui..." The New York Times reported:

"It was the second time in four years that Notre Dame of Fatima has become a symbol of the violence that has cleaved the country, often along religious lines. In 2014, Seleka rebels followed the same pattern, first throwing grenades and then opening fire indiscriminately, targeting people who had sought protection at the church from ongoing clashes."

Nigeria: Armed Muslim herdsmen raided a Catholic seminary in Jalingo. According to a priest who was shot, "Fulani herdsmen who were armed to their teeth stormed the school premises" and "opened fire at my window and destroyed my telephone set and other valuables." They then "forced the students to lead them to my room and beat me with their sticks and immediately I fell down [and] one of them shot me in my leg." Discussing such raids, the local bishop said that "it is regrettable as a church because we are only modeling the children to be good citizens of Nigeria and the world at large."

The Extremist Muslim Slaughter of Christians Outside Churches

Pakistan: A Muslim family beat, tied down, raped, and then murdered a Christian teen in front of her father, because she, their live-in maid, did not do her household chores to their satisfaction. On May 5, her father and another relative went to visit the girl at her employer's home. According to the report:

"When they entered the house they saw Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Kashif, Muhammad Tariq Pasran, Muhammad Ismael and wife of Muhammad Asif and another lady were torturing Kainat [his daughter]... Asif Gujjar and his wife were seizing the legs of Kainat while Muhammad Kashif and Muhammad Tariq Pasran had grabbed her arms. They had tied a rope around her neck and were trying to strangle her. Salamat Masih said that they begged not to kill his daughter but they did not pay any heed to his plea. They killed Kianat in front of his eyes. ... Salamat Masih claims that his daughter was killed for not cleaning the house properly."

A separate report said that "a post-mortem study ... also found evidence of rape on the teenager." Because they and their families are usually condemned to lives of extreme poverty, "Christian girls are too frequently placed into domestic servitude contracts from ages as young as 10. Many of these girls suffer cruel beatings and rape from depraved men and jealous wives," the British Pakistani Christian Association said while discussing this latest atrocity.

Uganda: Not content with killing a Muslim convert to Christianity, Muslim villagers also mutilated his corpse, according to a May 4 report. After Kuzaifa became a Christian two years ago, his family instantly ostracized him. He, his wife, and two young children fled to, and found refuge with, a pastor, and eventually moved more than 100 miles away from their home village. "You think you are safe in Kampala," the text messages started coming in. "We shall soon come for your neck." Then, on April 1, while returning from work, he was attacked and killed by unidentified persons. When his wife went to her husband's family to inform them of his death, her father-in-law received her coldly, saying, "My son thought that he can run away from Allah, but he could not." According to the report, "On April 4, family members and other Muslims took the body from the mortuary and buried it in an indecent manner." "Word went around that Kuzaifa's body was mutilated and not properly buried," said his wife. "His body was not washed, several pins were inserted into his body, they dug a very small grave for the body, and several cuts were made on his corpse." Christians responded by exhuming his body; "[t]hey washed it and provided a decent burial service." Now it is his wife's turn to be targeted: "If you continue with Christianity," came one text message, "you will go the same way of your husband."

Mozambique: Suspected Islamic terrorists beheaded 10 people with machetes in the Christian-majority nation on May 29. "There are 10 citizens who have been hideously killed," said a police spokesman. "The environment is scary." Although it was not immediately clear who was behind the atrocity, "local sources blamed the attack on Islamists," said the report; "Cabo Delgado province has seen a number of attacks by suspected radical Islamists since October [2017]." The group, known as Al Shabaab — Arabic for "the Youth" — is not believed to be affiliated to the other Islamic terror group of the same name in Somalia. "On the one hand the rate of attacks appears to intensify," said one analyst, "on the other hand, the methods seem to be radicalized, with decapitations becoming more and more common."

The Legal Jihad on Christian Churches

Algeria: Authorities shut down "two more Protestant churches, amidst growing pressure on the country's Christian minority," according to a May 29 report. Police sealed off the two churches in an area "where much of the growth in the Church is happening." One of the churches was established in 2005 and was attended by more than 200 worshippers. In the words of one of its leaders, "The officers came in on Friday morning. They simply sealed off the main entrance without a prior notice, as was the case before with other ... churches." A leader from another church had also received a similar telephone call from a police officer who said, "I'm calling to inform you that we have received an order to close your church." Soon after, a group of officers appeared and sealed off that church, too. According to the Christian advocacy group, Middle East Concern:

"The Algerian government has been criticized for discrimination against the country's Christian minority. Churches and individual Christians have faced increased restrictions in recent months, raising concerns that these pressures signal a coordinated campaign of intensified action against churches by the governing authorities."

Tanzania: After Muslim sheikhs from a mosque in the Muslim-majority, semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar complained that the Sunday services of a nearby church were too loud, authorities shut it down — even though, unlike the mosque, the church did not employ loudspeakers. As the bishop was in the middle of a sermon, a plainclothes police officer and other local officials walked into the church. "One of the police officers in civilian clothes walked through the church's door, stepped up to the podium and then grabbed the bishop by the arm," a church member said. "The bishop pleaded with him to allow him finish the preaching." According to a May 24 report,

"The congregation of the Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) church in Kisauni ... was gripped with fear that day (May 6) as the pulpit microphone picked up Bishop Daniel Kwileba Kwiyeya's plea. The regional and local district commissioners ordered him to stop the worship service as the officer dragged him into a police car..."

"Why are you arresting my father without giving us the reasons for his arrest?" the bishop's daughter cried. "This is very inhumane." The local district commissioner responded by slapping her and pushing her into the police vehicle, which hauled her and her father to the police station. They were released on the next day. "We have the right to worship God just like our brothers the Muslims who worship God using loudspeakers, but no one terms their worship a nuisance," said a church member. "We as the church are of the opinion that the order to close the church is tainted with favoritism and unconstitutional."

Saudi Arabia: Although a number of mainstream media including Fox News and Al Jazeera announced that the Vatican and Saudi Arabia had made a "historic" deal allowing the existence of churches on Saudi soils, the Vatican denied it as fake news. As one report explains, Saudi Arabia would have to completely remake itself before such a scenario can occur:

"The country follows a strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and it is impossible for anyone living in the country to openly practice Christianity. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians from other nations, such as the Philippines, other parts of Asia, or African countries, who are living and working in Saudi Arabia. But they must meet in private homes to worship, and risk harassment, arrest and deportation if they are caught doing so..... The Kingdom's administrative laws state that its constitution is the 'The Holy Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah (traditions),' and the judicial system operates on a strict interpretation of sharia law, which officially carries the death penalty for any Muslim citizen who converts to Christianity. Adult males and females are both subject to the death penalty for apostasy from Islam under the Sunni Hanbali form of sharia law practiced in Saudi Arabia."

Muslim Threats to Christian Churches

United States: A Muslim man disrupted two separate church services, one at Saint Matthew Parish, and another at BlueStone Church, in the course of a week, in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. According to John Stange, who was leading the service at BlueStone Church:

"[W]hile I spoke this evening about the sacrificial love of Jesus and how Jesus calls us to love one another with that same kind of sacrificial love, I noticed that a man pulled his car up to the entrance of the church and he sat there during the course of the message for over 35 minutes. ...As I was wrapping up the message, he began yelling into the building. I wasn't sure what he was saying at first, so I stopped speaking and walked toward him so I could engage in conversation with him. It quickly became clear that he took great offense to what I was preaching about, and in the midst of yelling at me he stated, 'You press on my nerves. You press on Muslims' nerves. You're going straight to Hell on the day of judgment.' Apparently, he was Muslim and he wanted to make sure that I knew he had a problem with the Christian message I was preaching. Needless to say, this experience made all of us uncomfortable."

France: A Muslim man walked into a cathedral and threatened to blow it up for preaching the Gospel and not the Koran. According to the May 3 report (original French here), the 37-year-old man, known only by his first name, Ahmed, "barged into local landmark St Vincent's Cathedral of Chalon-sur-Saône," and started yelling that "It is the Quran that must be read!" and that he had a "grenade and would blow up the church." During his court trial, it was revealed that Ahmed "has a long history of criminality with 27 prior criminal convictions including three cases of death threats and seven convictions for theft." The report continued:

"Father Thierry de Marsac, who heads the Roman Catholic parish of Saint Vincent, said that everyone in the cathedral at the time remained calm but he expressed he was concerned at the time, thinking of the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel who was killed by radical Islamic terrorists in 2016."

Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom

Indonesia: On May 7, a court sentenced a Christian pastor, Reverend Abraham Ben Moses, 52, to four years in prison for "blasphemy" against Islam's prophet Muhammad. A former Muslim, Abraham, after his conversion, was known to enjoy evangelizing and debating with Muslims. He was arrested in December 2017, after a video he posted of himself sharing his new Christian faith with a Muslim taxi driver went viral. The video apparently prompted the Muhammadiyah ("Muhammadans"), a leading Islamic group in Indonesia with nearly 30 million members, to lodge a complaint against him. Because in the video, he criticized marriage as taught by Muhammad and in the Koran, apparently compared to Christian monogamy, "Abraham was," according to the report, "convicted under Electronic and Information Transactions Law No. 11/2008 as he intentionally spread information intended to incite hatred against an individual, group and society based on religion." A Muhammadiyah spokesman responded by saying that, "This decision should be appreciated and should serve as a valuable lesson for all parties." Conversely, human rights groups such as International Christian Concern say that:

"The Indonesian government should revisit the country's blasphemy law, as it is increasingly being exploited by radical Muslim groups to target individuals who they find to be offensive and theologically 'out-of-line.' To honor religious freedom as enshrined in Indonesia's constitution, the government must respect all religions and stop criminalizing Christians when they are merely exercising their right to free speech."

Algeria: The appeal of a Christian pastor -- a 37-year-old father of three -- who was found guilty of "undermining the faith of a Muslim" was rejected by a court of law on May 16. His troubles began when someone informed a security checkpoint to inspect his vehicle thoroughly; the officers seized 56 books, including the Gospel of Mathew, Bibles, a Bible commentary, a book on church history and some pamphlets. Pastor Nouredine Belabed, a former Muslim, explained that he "meant to distribute them free to other Christians or any other person who wanted to know Christ." During his sentencing "the judge was harsh," and "used intimidation," according to Belabed. The judge, he said, repeatedly upbraided him: "Why do you carry those Christian books? Are not you ashamed? You're not ashamed to do that? Algeria is a Muslim country." "I did not do anything wrong, judge," Belabed responded. "The Bibles I carried were intended for members of our community, our Tiaret church, which is affiliated with the EPA [the formally recognized church of Algeria]. I did not give them to others or try to evangelize anyone."

According to the verdict, "Nouredine B. alone was found guilty for carrying and distributing Christian articles in order to undermine and destabilize the faith of a Muslim, in accordance with Article 11/02 of Law 03/06, and for that he is ordered to pay a fine of 100,000. DA [dinars]." The fine, equivalent to about $ 862 USD, is considered very large. "I am tired," says Belabed. "The police keep watching us, my wife and me. They watch all our movements. I do not want to inflict more on my family than that; I decide to choose to pay the fine."

Law 03/06 calls for a prison term of as much as five years and a fine of up to one million dinars ($8,687 USD) for anyone who:

"incites, constrains, or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion, or using for this purpose the institutions of education, health, social, cultural, or educational institutions, or other establishment, or financial advantage; or makes, stores or distributes printed documents or films or other audiovisual medium or means intended to undermine the faith of a Muslim."

Separately, on May 3, a court fined Idir Hamdad, a 29-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity, 20,000 dinars ($172 USD) for "importing unlicensed goods" — a reference to the Bible and crucifix keyrings which were donated to him by a church when he was visiting Jordan, and which custom officials confiscated from him at the airport when he returned in late 2017. "After they opened my luggage, suddenly I found myself surrounded by multitudes of police and customs officers," Hamdad explained.

"The customs officer began to gesticulate in all directions to attract attention. And I, still in astonishment, still did not understand what was happening to me."

One after another, sometimes at the same time, the officials peppered him with questions, he said.

"It fell on me like a rain: 'Are you a Christian? Where do you come from? Who gave you these objects? And those Christian books, who gave them to you? Who is it for?'" he said.

Two police officers grabbed him and forced him to follow them out of the international terminal to the national terminal, where they held him for eight hours without food or water, he said.

"In this quarantine, the representatives of the law did not fail to abuse their authority to insult me," he said. "They had repeatedly tried to persuade me to renounce my Christian faith and return to Islam: 'If you renounce now your Christianity and you do the chahada [Islamic conversion creed], we will let you leave right away, and there will be no prosecution against you.'"

"To condemn a Christian...with about 20 keychains, including four or five bearing crucifixes, and six scarves ... is ridiculous in view of Article 365 of the Code of Customs," his attorney said, adding that none of the items violated Algerian customs law.

Somalia: A small community of about 30 elderly Christians live in constant fear that their relatives — particularly their grandchildren — will slaughter them in what is arguably the worst Muslim nation in the world in which to be Christian. According to one man, speaking under the pseudonym of Moses:

"Violence is in [our] homes and we, who are few, we risk our lives every day.... Those born in the 90s have become intolerant and do not understand their elders who profess Christianity. Therefore the elders flee, go away from their children and grandchildren."

He added that some of these Christian grandparents have already been "killed by their children's children."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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