Read More Atheist Republic Muslim Woman Harassed by Hindu Mob as Hijab in Classroom Row Escalates
On February 8th, a video began circulating on Twitter showing a Muslim university student wearing hijab being harassed by a large group of Hindu male students as she walked to enter the college building in Mandya. This viral video was met with swift outrage and brought international attention to the ongoing controversy in the Indian state of Karnataka that surrounds recent prohibitions that have banned the wearing of the hijab in government-operated schools. What began as an incident with six female students in Udupi, has quickly spread across the state. There have been riots, mass protests, and an incident of militants climbing flagpoles to remove India’s national flag and replace it with the saffron flag associated with Hindu nationalism. The number of picketings and harassment of Muslim students also went up. Law and order have deteriorated to such an extent that schools and colleges across the state have been ordered to close while the judiciary can come to a decision about the constitutionality of banning the hijab in the classroom.
Beheading Of 17-Year-Old In “Honor Killing” Shocks Iran
On February 5th, Mona Heydari, a 17-year-old girl, was beheaded by her husband. Mona was forced to marry her cousin at the age of 12. Her 3-year-old son survives her. Previously, she had escaped her husband’s harassment and abuse by fleeing to Turkey. Eventually, she was brought back to Iran to be with her husband, with the help of her father. After beheading her, the husband paraded around the town square with her head in one hand and a knife in the other. Photos of him walking around with the decapitated head in his hand went viral on social media. After getting notified about the incident, police immediately began a search operation and arrested the man a few hours later. The incident has sparked outrage and a call for Iran to enact better laws to protect women. Abbas Abdi, a journalist in Iran, attacked conservative news outlets ignoring the incident. In a 2020 report from The Lancet, there were 8,000 reported honor killings in Iran between 2010 and 2014. The same report also stated that domestic violence incidents have increased during pandemic lockdowns.
Taliban Announces the Reopening of Universities for Women in 6 provinces
On February 2nd, the Taliban announced that some public universities in six provinces (out of 34) will allow enrollment of female students. According to the new announcement, the male students will attend classes in the morning, and the female students in the afternoon. It is still unknown who will be the instructors to teach the female students. In an interview with Bloomberg, Ahmad Massoud, a professor at the Kabul University, said the Taliban’s decision is a ploy to make other countries “recognize them, resume aid or release the frozen funds.” However, universities are facing trouble finding enough female lecturers and teachers for the segregated classes. Laghman University registered 270 female students, but only one female teacher.
Oklahoma Bill to Allow Teachers to be Sued for “Opposing Religious Beliefs”
Rob Standridge, a Republican Senator from Oklahoma, has introduced a religiously inspired bill to the Oklahoma Senate known as the “Students’ Religious Belief Protection Act.” The bill seeks to penalize educators who oppose students’ “closely held religious beliefs.”Senate Bill 1470 includes an avenue for legal sanctions that will cost teachers a minimum of $10,000. The bill’s cruelty goes further in the financial retribution, demanding that anyone found guilty of violating the bill will have to “make payment from personal resources and shall not receive any assistance from individuals or groups.” Any teacher who cannot manage payment is immediately fired and barred from teaching in the state for a period of five years. The bill also recommends sweeping responsibility to school officials and staff if the school does not “immediately comply.” The bill states that non-compliance with a court order according to this bill by anyone who directly or indirectly promotes opposition to a student’s religious beliefs will be permanently banned from being affiliated in any way with all public schools in Oklahoma. According to Peter Greene, a former educator and a Forbes senior contributor, the bill will most likely not pass as a law as it has no current co-sponsors and is ripe for legal challenge.
Iraqi Trans Woman “Honor-Killed” By Estranged Brother
On January 31st, Doski Azad, a 23-year old transgender woman from Iraq, was found dead in a shallow ditch in the village of Mangesh. Doski came out to her family and left home over five years ago. She was working as a makeup artist in Dohuk city center, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Her friends described her as “a peaceful and popular person who never wanted to see anyone sad.” She had previously notified IraQueer, an Iraqi LGBTQ advocacy group, that her relatives had been harassing her. Authorities and advocacy groups are calling her death a case of honor killing. Doski’s brother is the prime suspect for her murder. It is reported that her brother lives in Germany, or another Western European country, and it is suspected that he flew to Iraq with the sole intention of killing Doski. The latest reports say that thus far no arrests have been made and the suspect on the run, possibly having already escaped Iraq.
Kenyan Atheists’ Bid For Recognition
Recently, atheists in Kenya, a predominantly Christian nation, are becoming more public with their views. After facing years of strong opposition and discrimination, Atheists in Kenya Society was finally granted an official registration certificate in February 2016. In an interview with Religion News Service, Harrison Mumia, founder of the Atheists in Kenya Society,said they are trying to rebrand atheism to help Kenyans see that atheists are empathetic and that they also intervene to help fellow humans. For example, in 2020, the group successfully paid off the high school school fees for the son of an impoverished vegetable seller. The number of people leaving Christianity in Kenya has increased in recent years. Mumia stated in regards to people leaving their religion, “Kenya is changing. This should be the next earthquake.”
Egyptian Christian Sentenced to Years in Prison for Blasphemy Against Islam
On January 29th, Marco Gerges, a Coptic Christian, was found guilty of multiple charges, including “contempt for Islam” by the Cairo Economic Court. The ruling resulted in a five-year prison sentence. Gerges was arrested in June 2021 on suspicion of having “sexual images” on his mobile phone. Prosecutors said these images were offensive to Islam. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), an advocacy group that aims to strengthen fundamental rights in Egypt, reported that Gerges’s charges included “infringing on the values of Egyptian family life.” According to The New Arab, a pan-Arab media outlet, Gerges was just an ordinary citizen with no “affiliation to any entity.” EIPR accused the Egyptian government of using unconstitutional laws and unfair court proceedings to target individuals accused of blasphemy. The human rights watchdog fears that Gerges’s prosecution will signal an increase in human rights violations in Egypt.
Sydney Christian School Equates Same-Sex Relationships With Abuse
Last week, Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College received resounding condemnations from advocacy groups for student contracts with morality clauses that stigmatized LGBT students. Due to the fallout, Penrith Christian School in Sydney has now fallen under scrutiny for similar practices. Penrith made it a part of the student enrollment process for parents to “read and understand” the school’s “Statement of Faith.” The document includes; “Adultery, same-sex attraction, transgender identity, premarital sex, sexual acts between members of the same sex and abusive relationships, are all examples of relationships and behaviors which are not acceptable to God,” listing these as examples of “fallen relationships.” It is not clear if there a consequences for violating the Statement of Faith. When asked by the Guardian to respond to the criticism, the school’s principal Tracy Deal declined to give any comments insisting instead that the Statement of Faith has been taken “out of context.”
Why Does Facebook Keep Killing Bangladeshi Atheists?
Recently, several notable Bangladeshi atheists and secularist bloggers lost access to their Facebook accounts as they found that Facebook had closed their account and marked it as “remembering,” a function reserved for those who had died. Alarmed and shocked, the bloggers soon realized that this was the outcome of a planned attack on many popular online figures within the Bangladeshi blogosphere. Arifur Rahman, a London-based Bangladeshi cartoonist and secularist blogger, stated that the phenomena of Facebook declaring accounts as “memorialized” happened to a plethora of well-known Bangladeshi activists. When asked about the process of raising his account from the dead, Arif stated “It wasn’t easy … I’ve been sending them the required ID and evidence for over two weeks and no one from Facebook even sent me an email confirming or denying it.” Although many of the bloggers were able to eventually retrieve their accounts, some worry that this will happen again and they will not receive any help from Facebook to prevent it.
Atheist Republic CEO Speaking at Humanist Society of Santa Barbara!
Atheist Republic’s CEO Susanna McIntyre will be giving a free virtual talk at the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara on Saturday February 19 at 3pm Pacific/6pm Eastern Time. This talk will begin with a brief dive into Susanna’s background: how and why she left religion, as well as her experience with the illiberal left. She’ll also dig into Atheist Republic, its mission, history, accomplishments, as well as a special examination of the necessity of building global and local communities in tandem. Finally, she will discuss the importance of international solidarity and engagement when fighting to protect persecuted atheists and those criminalized for alleged blasphemy. This event is free but there is a limited number of virtual seats, so make sure to register here!
Read More Atheist Republic Muslim Woman Harassed by Hindu Mob as Hijab in Classroom Row Escalates