Zur von Frau Merkel neu entfachten Burka-Debatte

burka

Unter heftigem Beifall hat Angela Merkel letzte Woche beim CDU-Parteitag in Essen ein Verbot der Vollverschleierung gefordert, “wo immer das rechtlich möglich ist.” Diese Forderung wurde dann auch so von der CDU beschlossen.

Abgesehen davon, dass es in Deutschland praktisch keine vollverschleierten Frauen gibt und es sich deshalb um eine reine Symboldebatte handelt, ist die Forderung nach einem Verbot von Burka und Niqab strategisch falsch. Rechtspopulisten wie die AfD bekämpft man mit einem überzeugenden Eintreten für freiheitliche Werte, nicht mit mehr Populismus und dadurch, dass man deren Positionen legitimiert. Sie ist darüber hinaus sachlich unbegründet. Continue reading →

The Wrongness of Killing

George Sher & Rainer Ebert

In May 2016, I graduated with a PhD in Philosophy from Rice University. I wrote my dissertation on the wrongness of killing, under the direction of Professor George Sher (pictured above), and this is the abstract:

There are few moral convictions that enjoy the same intuitive plausibility and level of acceptance both within and across nations, cultures, and traditions as the conviction that, normally, it is morally wrong to kill people.

Attempts to provide a philosophical explanation of why that is so broadly fall into three groups: Consequentialists argue that killing is morally wrong, when it is wrong, because of the harm it inflicts on society in general, or the victim in particular, whereas personhood and human dignity accounts see the wrongness of killing people in its typically involving a failure to show due respect for the victim and his or her intrinsic moral worth.

I argue that none of these attempts to explain the wrongness of killing is successful. Consequentialism generates too many moral reasons to kill, cannot account for deeply felt and widely shared intuitions about the comparative wrongness of killing, and gives the wrong kind of explanation of the wrongness of killing. Personhood and human dignity accounts each draw a line that is arbitrary and entirely unremarkable in terms of empirical reality, and hence ill-suited to carry the moral weight of the difference in moral status between the individuals below and above it. Paying close attention to the different ways in which existing accounts fail to convince, I identify a number of conditions that any plausible account of the wrongness of killing must meet. I then go on to propose an account that does.

I suggest that the reason that typically makes killing normal human adults wrong equally applies to atypical human beings and a wide range of non-human animals, and hence challenge the idea that killing a non-human animal is normally easier to justify than killing a human being. This idea has persisted in Western philosophy from Aristotle to the present, and even progressive moral thinkers and animal advocates such as Peter Singer and Tom Regan are committed to it. I conclude by discussing some important practical implications of my account.

You can find a PDF copy of my dissertation here.

Commemorating Avijit Roy on his 44th birthday

AvijitRoy

Today is the first birthday of Avijit Roy that we commemorate without him. His life was taken by Islamic terrorists earlier this year, when he was in Bangladesh to attend the Ekushey Book Fair. Avijit was a prolific and accomplished author, a fierce defender of human rights, and dedicated much of his life to the promotion of freethinking, humanism, and rationalism. Continue reading →

Marriage equality in Bangladesh

16621812491_4a7b1669d4_o

Last month, the United States Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states of the Union, and the District of Columbia, adding the United States to the list of nearly two dozen countries, mostly in Europe and the Americas, that recognize marriage between a man and a man, and between a woman and a woman. The decision, which is nothing short of historic, made waves around the globe, including in Bangladesh, and is a cause for celebration for everybody who believes in equal human dignity. Continue reading →

Kurzer Kommentar zur aktuellen deutschen Debatte über die Ehe für alle

„Alle Menschen sind vor dem Gesetz gleich.“ So steht es im Grundgesetz. Das heißt auch, dass niemand wegen seiner sexuellen Orientierung benachteiligt werden darf. Die sucht man sich nämlich genauso wenig aus wie sein Geschlecht oder seine Hautfarbe. Es ist also eigentlich ganz einfach: Die Ehe für alle muss kommen (nicht die „Homo-Ehe“, die es genauso wenig gibt wie die „Homo-Geburt“ und den „Homo-Mietvertrag“). Continue reading →

Hass gegen Flüchtlinge in Ellwangen

refugees welcome

Mit dem Einzug der ersten 48 Flüchtlinge hat die Landeserstaufnahmestelle (LEA) in Ellwangen letzte Woche ihren Betrieb aufgenommen. Mittelfristig sollen in der ehemaligen Reinhardt-Kaserne tausend Menschen untergebracht werden, unter anderem aus Syrien, anderen Nahost-Staaten, Afrika und dem Balkan. Lokalpolitiker und Vertreter der Stadt Ellwangen heißen die Flüchtlinge herzlich willkommen und auch in der Bevölkerung hat die LEA eine breite Unterstützung. Rund tausend Menschen nahmen im Januar in Ellwangen an einer Solidaritätskundgebung teil. Zahlreiche Bürger spenden Kleidung und Möbel oder engagieren sich anderweitig für die Flüchtlinge.

Doch die oftmals traumatisierten Flüchtlinge treffen nicht nur auf Hilfsbereitschaft und Gastfreundlichkeit, sondern auch auf Hass, der auf einem diffusen Gemisch von Vorturteilen, Fremden- und Islamfeindlichkeit, Rassismus, Fehlinformation, Neid und Neophobie gründet. Continue reading →

Freiheit und Toleranz statt Burka-Verbot

Seit 2011 ist in Frankreich ein Gesetz in Kraft, das die Verdeckung des Gesichts in der Öffentlichkeit unter Androhung einer Strafe verbietet. Obwohl immer wieder betont wird, dass das Gesetz auch Strumhauben und andere nicht-religiöse Kleidungsstücke betrifft, ist klar, dass der französische Gesetzgeber vor allem auf islamische Kleidungstücke wie die Burka und den Niqab abgezielt hat. Dies zeigt sich auch daran, dass das Gesetz gemeinhin als „Burka-Verbot“ bekannt ist. Frankreich befindet sich nun in der fragwürdigen Gesellschaft von Saudi Arabien, dem Iran und anderen Staaten, die Frauen dazu zwingen, sich in einer bestimmten Weise zu kleiden. Eine junge Französin muslimischen Glaubens wollte das nicht akzeptieren und zog vor den Europäischen Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte in Straßburg, der das französische Gesetz im vergangenen Juli bestätigte und damit einen besorgniserregenden Präzedenzfall geschaffen hat, der die europäischen Werte der Toleranz, kulturellen Vielfalt und individuellen Freiheit gefährdet, auf die wir zurecht stolz sind. Continue reading →

The French burqa ban: So much for Liberté!

In 2011, a French law came into effect which makes it illegal to cover one’s face in public. Even though lawyers for the French government emphasize that the law also applies to non-religious face-veiling garments, such as balaclavas and hoods, it is clear that its principal target is Muslim clothing, particularly the burqa and the niqab. The legislative process that led to the law now widely known as the French burqa ban started shortly after then-President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that the Islamic burqa – which he thinks makes women “prisoners behind a screen” – is not welcome in France. Those who violate the law face fines of up to 150€, or lessons in French citizenship. Continue reading →

Masud: “I am a woman”

For better or for worse, people think in boxes. They have boxes for things, and they have boxes for people: Bengali, westerner, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, Asian, White, Black… Curiously, one pair of boxes seems to play a particularly important role in people’s lives: Think about it… What was the first-ever question that anybody has asked about you? Likely, the answer is: “Is it a boy or a girl?” And, likely, that question was asked before you were even born. But does it really matter whether you are a man or a woman? And should it matter? Continue reading →

সমকামিতা : ধারণা বনাম বাস্তবতা

বিশ্বের অন্যান্য দেশের মতো বাংলাদেশেও কিছু মানুষ নিজ লিঙ্গের মানুষকে যৌনসঙ্গী হিসেবে বেছে নেন। আপনি ভাবতে পারেন ভালোবাসা তো ভালোবাসাই- কিন্তু বিষয়টা কি এত সহজ? Continue reading →

সমকামিতা সম্পর্কে আপনার কি জানা উচিত

আমরা ছিলাম। আমরা আছি। আমরা থাকবো।

যৌন প্রবৃত্তি কি?

যৌন প্রবৃত্তি বলতে বোঝায় পুরুষ, নারী, উভয় লিঙ্গের প্রতি পার¯পারিক আবেগ, প্রণয় এবং /অথবা যৌন আকর্ষণজনিত এক স্থায়ী সম্পর্কাবস্থা। এই যৌন প্রবৃত্তির একটি প্রান্তে কেউ কেউ শুধু মাত্র বিপরীত লিঙ্গের প্রতি আকর্ষণ বোধ করে, আর অপর প্রান্তে কেউ কেউ শুধু মাত্র সমলিঙ্গের প্রতি আকর্ষণ বোধ করে। তবে সাধারণত যৌন প্রবৃত্তিকে তিনটি ভাগে ভাগ করা যায়ঃ বিপরীতকামিতা (বিপরীত লিঙ্গের প্রতি আকর্ষণ), সমকামিতা (সমলিঙ্গের প্রতি আকর্ষণ) এবং উভকামিতা (উভয় লিঙ্গের প্রতি আকর্ষণ)। Continue reading →

ব্লাসফেমি আইন বনাম মতপ্রকাশের স্বাধীনতা

মানুষের সবচেয়ে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ অধিকার খুব সম্ভব মতপ্রকাশের স্বাধীনতা, এ মুহূর্তে বাংলাদেশে এ নাগরিক অধিকারটি হুমকির সম্মুখীন। হেফাজতে ইসলাম কঠোর ব্লাসফেমি আইন প্রণয়নের দাবি জানাচ্ছে এবং সরকার মুক্তমতের পক্ষে না থেকে একটি হীন আপোষের নীতি গ্রহণ করেছে, ফলে মিডিয়া সাধারণের তথ্যঅধিকার প্রদানে বাধাপ্রাপ্ত হচ্ছে, গ্রেপ্তার হয়েছেন বা হওয়ার আশঙ্কায় রয়েছেন এমন তরুণ ব্লগারদের ভবিষ্যত অনিশ্চিত হয়ে পড়ছে; ধ্বংসের আশঙ্কার মুখে পড়েছে দেশের গণতন্ত্রের ভবিষ্যতটাও। Continue reading →

Bangladesh’s LGBT Community and the UPR 2013

“Ever since I was in first grade, I was teased by my classmates for my girlish behavior. Back then, I didn’t even know I was gay; and being called gay was quite offending. I used to get teased, bullied and even took a few hits for my ‘inappropriate’ behavior. Continue reading →

Blasphemy and the right to offend

Background: The Daily Star

The right to express one’s opinion freely is maybe the most important democratic right, and it is currently under assault in Bangladesh. Hifazat-e-Islam demands the introduction of strict blasphemy laws, and the government, instead of defending freedom, resorts to an ill-advised and imprudent appeasement strategy that hinders the press in its duty to inform the public, threatens the futures of young bloggers who were, and continue to be, arrested, and puts in peril the future of the democracy of the country. Continue reading →

The most premeditated of murders

Background: The Guardian

If Mr. Mollah committed the crimes he was convicted for, and if anyone deserves to die, he does. It is hence not surprising that the death penalty is on everybody’s lips in Bangladesh these days. However, we do not wish to comment on the case of Mr. Mollah, as we would hardly be in a position to do so. We leave this case to others more familiar with it and more competent than us. Instead, we will offer some thoughts on capital punishment in general, drawing from the debate about killing criminals in our respective home countries – South Africa and Germany.

Continue reading →

What You Should Know About Homosexuality

Amra Chhilam. Amra Achhi. Amra Thakbo.

What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. Sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. However, sexual orientation is usually discussed in terms of three categories: heterosexual (having attractions to members of the other sex), gay/lesbian (men attracted to men/women attracted to women), and bisexual (men or women attracted to both sexes). Continue reading →