The Week in Review: Jan 31 – Feb 6

How the Satanic Temple forced Phoenix lawmakers to ban public prayer

by Peter Holley at The Washington Post

For weeks now, Phoenix lawmakers have wrestled with the idea of allowing members of a Satanic group to give the invocation before an upcoming city meeting.

Phoenix City Council members arrived Wednesday at a controversial solution: Banning prayer altogether.

From now on, lawmakers decided in a 5-4 vote, council meetings will no longer begin with a traditional prayer, but instead open with a moment of silence.

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Worst Terrorist Ever Blows Self Sideways out of Plane Without Killing Anyone Else

by Ben Mathis-Lilley at Slate

Passengers on a Daallo Airlines flight leaving from Mogadishu were subjected to just about the most terrifying experience imaginable on Tuesday as a bomb exploded in the plane’s passenger cabin somewhere above 12,000 feet. The bomb only created a relatively small hole in the plane’s fuselage, however, and the aircraft was able to return to Mogadishu and land safely. Somali authorities now believe that they know who carried the bomb onto the plane and detonated it: A man who was then sucked out of the hole in the fuselage and became the attack’s only fatality.

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How to Shift the Goalposts with Dean Obeidallah

by Stephen Knight at Godless Spellchecker’s Blog

If you ever need a guide stick by which to measure the integrity of someone’s arguments, you could do a lot worse than familiarise yourself with the most common logical fallacies. These enable you to separate the hack from the journalist and the scholar from the apologist.

Dean Obeidallah and Sam Harris have clashed before, and it’s clear that Dean is committed to the idea that Harris is motivated solely by bigotry. Unfortunately for Dean however, he’s having a terrible time trying to demonstrate as much. Finally, in what must have seemed like the dream ‘gotcha’ moment, Dean took to the internet to accuse Harris of ‘teaming up’ with an ‘anti-Muslim hate group’ in a series of Tweets. The excitement here is palpable:

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Yemen’s top Salafi cleric is murdered days after speaking out against Al-Qaeda and ISIL

by Ahmed Al-Haj at AP Big Story

The lifeless body of Yemen’s top Salafi cleric in the southern port city of Aden was found disfigured on Sunday hours after he was abducted following an anti-extremism sermon, security officials told The Associated Press.

Government forces repelled Shiite rebels from Aden last July, but have been unable to restore order there ever since. With government forces now pushing north toward the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, the vacuum in Aden has given rise to affiliates of extremist groups like al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, who have grabbed lands and exercised control in various parts of the city for months.

The influential cleric, Samahan Abdel-Aziz, also known as Sheikh Rawi, had delivered a fiery sermon against the al-Qaida and IS branches on Friday, the officials said. His body was found bloodied and bearing signs of torture in Sheikh Othman, an area largely controlled by extremists, they added.

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15-year-old boy cuts off own hand in Punjab after blasphemy mistake

by AFP at The Express Tribune

A 15-year-old boy cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy, only to be celebrated by his parents and neighbours for the act, police told AFP on Friday.

Local police chief Nausher Ahmed described how an imam told a gathering at a village mosque that those who love the Prophet (PBUH) Mohammad always say their prayers, then asked who among the crowd had stopped praying.

Mohammad Anwar, 15, raised his hand by mistake after apparently mishearing the question.

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Maajid Nawaz Appears on Terrorist Watchlist

by Jon Stone at The Independent

A counter-extremism advisor who has worked closely with David Cameron was secretly given the “terrorism” designation on a confidential database, it has been revealed.

The database, made public by the Vice News website, is operated and used by banks to blacklist potential customers for various reasons.

Maajid Nawaz, a former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate and chair of anti-extremism organization Quilliam, is one of the names on the list.

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Islamicide: How the Mullah Mafia Is Destroying Pakistan

by Maajid Nawaz at The Daily Beast

Somewhere in the world there is a Muslim-majority country in which a 15-year-old boy accidentally raised his hand to answer the wrong question at a religious sermon. The boy said yes, when he meant to say no.

His religious instructor, his mullah, had been asking, “Who among you loves their prophet?” All present raised their hands. The mullah then followed with another question: “Who among you doesn’t believe in the teachings of the Holy Prophet? Raise your hands!”

The boy thought he was answering the first question again. He stuck his right hand up in pride. Yes. Yes, I love my prophet, he thought. But to the poor boy’s horror, the mullah had asked the question in the negative. Upon realizing his mistake, which I remind you was raising his hand too quickly, the boy was told before 100 worshippers that he had committed blasphemy. He was mortified.

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Anti-Muslim Bigotry vs. Genuine Criticism of Islam

by Faisal Saeed Al Mutar at The Council for Secular Humanism

I think this article could be one of the most important I have ever written on the subject of Islam. Why? It is because of the growing obscurantism that has made it almost impossible to have any discussion whatever about Islam without terms such as bigot, racist, IslamophobeZionist, Uncle Tom, and many others being thrown around on national television.

Why is this happening? The debate concerning Islam and Muslims has become so polarized that no one can easily engage in honest conversation without being pigeonholed into one camp or another. This process is not wholly arbitrary; I’ve identified six major groups or categories, and most who hold forth on things Islamic in the media genuinely seem to fall into one of them:

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