Charlie Hebdo Tribute


Je pense donc je suis Charlie – I think therefore I am Charlie.

Nous sommes TOUS Charlie – We are ALL Charlie.

These taglines identify supporters of freedom of expression and resisters of religious threats. In this context, AAI est Charlie.

In solidarity we stand proudly with the people of France and her cartoonists who worked for Charlie Hebdo magazine and who were victims of religion-inspired terrorism on the 7th January 2015. Organised religion has always had a great deal on its conscience and now it has even more to answer for. In the case of Charlie Hebdo, seventeen people have been shot and killed and eleven more wounded. Minutes after this following cartoon that lampooned religion was published and tweeted from Charlie Hebdo magazine, religious terrorists stormed the magazine office and opened fire.

This is the last cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo before the gunmen stormed the office. It depicts ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and the caption reads “Best wishes and good health.”

After murdering Charlie Hebdo staff, the gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” and “The Prophet is avenged!”. But the pen always has and always will be mightier than the Kalishnakov. We at AAI – like Charlie Hebdo – stand up for our right to free expression and a life without pandering to fear-mongering and censorship. We will not be silenced by brutal, savage threats from censorious fanatics. Our tribute to Charlie Hebdo is to re-publish the cartoons for which their publisher Stephane Charbonnier (“I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees”) gave his life.

In some interpretations of the Islamic religion there is a ban on illustrating Mohammed, a view that satirizing or critiquing Islam is “blasphemy”, and that defaming Mohammed is a crime punishable by death.

We believe that drawings – no matter how offensive – do not justify death. To think otherwise is an insane ideology.

Noted for its irreverence, the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine has been the target of two terrorist attacks – in 2011, and now in 2015 – because of lampooning Islam in their cartoons. In 2006 they controversially re-published the Danish Jyllands-Posten depictions of Mohammed.

Here is the issue with the re-published Jyllands-Posten cartoons. The headline states “Mohammed overwhelmed by fundamentalists”. The Prophet is saying, “It’s hard being loved by idiots.”

 Here are some of the controversial depictions of Mohammed published by Jyllands-Posten and again by Charlie Hebdo:




The following are other controversial Charlie Hebdo covers from past years:


This one from 2001 translates as “Love is stronger than hate”.


Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed in 2011. This 2011 cover states that this issue is “guest edited by Mohammed” (calling the magazine “Charia Hebdo”). Mohammed is depicted saying, “One hundred lashes if you don’t die of laughter.”

 Christianity gets its fair share of satire and mockery too. Here is the birth of Jesus…

 This cover is particularly apt in light of the recent tragedy. “Charlie Hebdo must be veiled!”
they all shout.


Media responses to the terrorist attack have been varied but cartoonists around the world have lead the way, brandishing their pencils. Here are five of AAI’s favourites:


Albert Uderzo of Asterix fame came out of retirement to publish this response.

 By David Pope.

By R. Crumb.

By Lucille Clerc.

 Liberty leading the people!







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On Sam Harris’s ‘Waking Up’ Lecture



Does it make sense to talk of ‘secular spirituality’? Well-known atheist and author Dr Sam Harris thinks it does. I attended Harris’s San Francisco lecture on 17 September which coincided with the release of his new book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. The lecture series (also presented in Los Angeles and New York) tried (and mostly succeeded) in getting to the core of human consciousness, mindfulness and secular spirituality.

from First, Harris skilfully argued that since the very beginning, suffering has its origins in the illusion of self. This ‘self’ claims to be the thinker of our thoughts and the experiencer of our experiences. When we are wandering in our thoughts, those little persons in our heads are the ‘selves’ that we seem to experience. However, as Harris pointed out in both the lecture and the new book, ‘a persistent and unified self’ is merely an illusion since it is the whole brain and the firing of neuronal networks that make us who we are. Our thoughts and our behaviors are wholly caused by our brain, which also changes with time. As Harris argued in his book Free Will (2012), free will, like the sense of self, is also an illusion.

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Atheists should target the Supreme Court


In his 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine argued that the colonies should replace the English monarchy with a representative democracy. Although he offered few details on how the U.S. constitution should be structured, Paine argued that when deciding on laws, representatives “are supposed to have the same concerns” as the people who elected them, and when voting on laws, should “act in the same manner as (the people) would act were they present.” To ensure the representatives’ “fidelity” to the public, Paine said that Americans should have “elections often,” that is, annual elections as done typically in colonial legislatures. To Paine, “the strength of the government and the happiness of the governed” depends on the people and their representatives having a “common interest.”

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The fight for secular schooling is not over



Religious institutions are continuing to push religion into public schools – in all sorts of devious ways – despite the high court rulings against the Australian Government’s placement of chaplains in schools as replacements for counsellors.

Recently in Newcastle, a scripture group called “Scripture at School” filmed children at Newcastle East State School without their parents’ consent. The footage clearly showed students’ faces. Notable statements from one 11-year-old boy included: “[I am] blessed because my family are Christian and I have been brought up to love and know Jesus. Unfortunately, it is a very different story for most of my friends. With the help of Scripture at School I hope that can change.”

Of course it transpires that this boy is actually not a student. Whilst the Department of Education for Newcastle has asked for the video to be taken down, it has been able to be viewed up to the point of writing of this article.

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Backyard Terrorists


Several recent raids on Sydney and Brisbane homes have brought to light a dangerous extremist ring of Islamic ISIL/ISIS supporters with plots to carry out terrorist attacks, including a plot to abduct and behead a random member of the Australian public on camera.

Law enforcement officials have told journalists that they are worried about civil unrest after these raids, as “the people who normally calm down the hotheads are not here”. Whilst the Islamic community has come together in many displays of anti-extremist ideologies, subversive voices continue to flood into the community. Australia is now joining numerous other countries that are currently dealing with Jihadist recruiters, encouraging young Islamic Australians to partake in warfare in Syria and Iraq, taking money and people to the Middle East to waste on a religious war costing lives and sanity.

The current tension in Brisbane is pliable, with the G20 summit around the corner. Anti-terrorist measures are clear around the city, with even common trash receptacles being welded shut to prevent terrorist attacks.

With other Islamic Australians coming out publicly in favour of the ISIS/ISIL terrorist group, it is unknown how many more raids and terrorist threats from religious institutions will have to be thwarted before the terrorist threat level in Australia is lowered to a less unsettling standard. Unfortunately Australia’s more secular and multicultural way of life is being threatened by some of the very people who came here for those freedoms.


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Debating Mormonism: Why and How


Atheists long enjoyed watching Christopher Hitchens “slap” believers, especially during formal public debates. But debaters accepting Hitch’s baton must likewise prepare diligently or get “slapped” themselves during debates. In the following article, Liz Emery offers valuable insider’s advice to atheists intent on debating Mormons. Raised and homeschooled by Mormon parents in Utah, Liz served in multiple Church leadership roles and was accepted to study at Bringham Young University. She instead attended Utah State University, where she wrote a weekly column for the university’s newspaper. Today she lives in Chicago, but continues to study the Mormon Church.


The recent debate between biblical literalist Ken Hamm and scientist Bill Nye has raised an old question: Is it useful for atheists to debate believers, or do debates give unnecessary validity to irrational arguments? Religious arguments rest solely on faith, not scientific evidence, and debate formats do not allow secularists to conduct a course on epistemology. Victor Stenger has argued convincingly that debates favor Christian apologists who regularly perform in front of audiences and that atheists face a formidable task in preparing properly.

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