Read More Atheist Republic Facebook Launches “I Prayed” Button & Other New “Prayer Services”
In 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company would focus on religion and religious communities for “faith partnership.” In December 2020, Facebook started rolling out its “I Prayed” button tool for Facebook groups in the United States. In June 2021, Hillsong, a global megachurch organization, opened its new church in Atlanta, GA. Before the church’s opening, Sam Collier, Hillsong’s Senior Pastor, received an offer from Facebook where they would be allowed to use Hillsong’s followers in a case study on how Facebook can better help churches. Facebook’s plan is not just to offer a “prayer tool” but to become the online “home” of these religious communities. With the coming of the Covid Pandemic, Nona Jones, the head of Faith Partnerships with Facebook, said they’ve ramped up the work on the “prayer products,” which included the “I Prayed” button.
Famed Christian Creationist Kent Hovind Arrested for Domestic Assault
On July 30th, Kent Hovind, a supporter of creationism, was arrested for allegedly throwing his reportedly estranged wife to the ground. On the same day that the arrest warrant was issued, his wife requested the court grant a protective order against Hovind and his associate. She cited an incident earlier this year when a gun was pointed at her by one of Hovind’s associates in October 2020. Hovind has been vocal advocate for the theory of “Young Earth Creationism.” The theory stems from a literalist, word-for-word interpretation of the book of Genesis in the Bible. Hovind believes that man co-existed and has thrived alongside dinosaurs. Hovind’s arrest in late July is not the first time this controversial preacher faced legal problems. In 2006, Hovind was sentenced to a 10-year jail term for tax fraud.
9-year old Dalit Girl, Gang-Raped, Murdered, Forcibly Cremated
Location: New Delhi, India
On August 1st, a 9-year old girl from the Dalit community, India’s lowest caste, was murdered after being gang-raped. Her body was forcibly cremated by the same men who committed the crime. The girl’s family lived in a rented shanty across from a crematorium. On the day of the gruesome event, around 5:30 PM, her mother asked her to fetch drinking water in a water cooler inside the crematorium’s compound. After an hour when she didn’t return, her mother went out to look for her. The crematorium’s priest told the mother that her daughter was dead. The crematorium’s priest reported that the girl died of electrocution. The mother knew the priest was lying. She immediately declared that she wanted to bring her daughter’s body to the police. The priest and his associates proceeded with the cremation, despite the mother’s protest. Ingit Pratap Singh, Deputy Commissioner of South-West Delhi Police, said that they had arrested four people in connection with the murder; the 55-year old priest Radhey Shyam, and his three associates. The Delhi Police are still conducting investigations.
Turkish Influencer Charged with Obscenity for Pictures of “Sex Museum”
Merve Taskin, a Turkish Instagram influencer, is expected to appear in court for publishing photos that were considered to be “obscene.” The pictures were taken at the famed Sex Museum in Amsterdam during a trip to the Netherlands. A few months later, after getting home to Turkey, she was arrested for the criminal acts of posting obscene content. The Turkish government did not see the joke nor found her posts funny. Anyone operating as a Turkish entity or citizen who is sharing indecent and obscene content, especially those intended for a Turkish audience, is subject to Article 226 of Turkey’s penal code. Article 226 penalizes anyone who “broadcasts or publishes obscene written or audio-visual material.” Taskin deleted the images from her social media but still received an SMS message instructing her to appear in court on October 26th, 2021, where she will be formally charged with violating Article 226.
Mubarak Bala, Imprisoned Nigerian Atheist, Faces New Charges
On August 3rd, the High Court of Kano State in Nigeria formally charged Mubarak Bala, an atheist, and president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, for causing a public disturbance. The High Court’s charges, which come as a highly delayed action, revolve around Bala’s Facebook posts which spanned over 2020. As the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Bala intended to use his public social media account to express his sentiments against religion. On April 25th, 2020, Bala declared on Facebook that the Prophet Muhammad is a terrorist. He was arrested three days later and was not seen again by his family. Bala was imprisoned without any charges for almost two years. Several international organizations who have been keeping a close eye on Bala’s whereabouts and well-being have reported multiple violations against his rights, including the court’s denial to give Bala an expedient and fair trial.
8-year-old Hindu boy arrested in Pakistan, youngest ever to be charged with blasphemy
On August 4th, a Muslim mob swarmed a Hindu temple in Bhong City in the Rahim Yar Khan district in the Punjab region in Pakistan. According to Asif Raza, a police officer in Bhong city, the mob was riled up by the court’s decision to grant bail to an 8-year old Hindu child. This decision sparked outrage in the Muslim community. The Muslims claim that the boy committed blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan. He is alleged to have been caught intentionally urinating on a carpet within the local madrasa (an Islamic religious school). The boy was arrested on blasphemy charges, the youngest to ever be charged with the offense. In response to the boy’s bail-out, a Muslim mob attacked a Hindu temple, destroying statues and taking down the temple’s main door. The mob also attempted to barricade the road leading to the temple. The situation was de-escalated when Pakistani soldiers were called in to help control the crowd. When the police and military were able to stop the attack, the temple was already significantly damaged.
Daycare Accused of Discriminating Against Kids with Muslim-sounding Names
In November 2020, Humza Yousaf, the first Muslim Scottish Secretary of Health, and his wife Nadia El-Nakla, applied to a nursery for their 2-year old daughter, Amal. Their application was immediately denied. They received a similar rejection after they attempted a second time. The couple asked their friends to send applications to test if the organization was declining children with Muslim-sounding names. Surprisingly, it became evident that the nursery was doing precisely that, as their friends’ applications with Scottish-sounding names were accepted. Their friends had also submitted applications with Muslim-sounding names, and those were rejected. Usha Fowdar, a spokesperson for the Little Scholars, the nursery in question, stated that they refute the allegations made by the Health Secretary in the strongest possible terms.
GOP Senators Halt Nomination of Biden Appointee Over Anti-Muslim Bigotry
In a letter dated June 30th, addressed to Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, eight Republican US senators expressed their concern over the nomination of Dilawar Syed. Syed is the current nominee to be the Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). If confirmed, he will become the highest-ranking Muslim official that will hold a role in the executive branch of the United States government. According to the Republican senators, if someone with Syed’s background is confirmed, it would threaten the close allyship between American and Israeli businesses. As a response, various religious organizations expressed their support for Syed by sending a letter to Sen. Ben Cardin. In the letter, dated August 9th, addressed to both senators Ben Cardin and Rand Paul, the religious groups accused some Republican senators of using a “troubling strategy.”
New Ground-Breaking UN Resolution Condemning Witchcraft Violence & Abuse
During the 47th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN released a resolution that calls for the “Elimination of harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks.” The session, which lasted from June 21st to July 13th, 2021, listed on its agenda issues regarding the protection and promotion of all human rights, including social and cultural rights. In the resolution, the UN asks states to take actions against witchcraft-related violent attacks. The UN also calls for justice for the victims, encouraging prosecution of the perpetrators of these types of violent crimes. The Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), in a press release, celebrated the “one of a kind” resolution.
Atheist Republic Persian Channel hits 10k subscribers!
Atheist Republic’s prominent Persian-language YouTube channel, جمهوری بی خدایان (Jomhooriehe Bi Khodayan), recently celebrated hitting ten thousand subscribers! The Atheist Republic Persian channel is the largest channel dedicated to bringing atheist content to the global Farsi-speaking community. This unique programming from Atheist Republic is fostering a growing and passionate community of apostates who are eager for a safe space to express their non-belief. The channel has even begun experimenting with bringing on English-speaking guests and providing live translations for the audience. It is thanks to the support of the Atheist Republic community that we are able to provide this one-of-a-kind and much-needed programming!