Read More Atheist Republic Riots Erupt in Sweden Over Plans to Burn Quran at Far-Right Rally
Recently, Stram Kurs (Hard Line), an anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political party, organized rallies in Sweden, leading to violent riots injuring more than 40 people. Rasmus Paludan, the group’s leader, a Danish-Swedish politician, said they have burned a copy of the Quran and plan on doing it again. The group carried out similar acts of burning the Quran in 2020, in the city of Malmo, as well as in the Muslim-dominated area of Rinkeby. Muslim majority countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq, condemned the incident and called for Sweden to act quickly. The Foreign Ministry of Turkey called the incident “vile attacks” against the Quran. Anders Thornberg, the chief of Sweden’s National Police, stated that riots started on April 15th, in cities of Rinkeby, Orebro, Norrkoping, and Linkoping. Riots continued in Norrkoping and Linkoping until April 17th. A police spokesperson said 26 police officers and 14 other individuals were injured in the riots. Dozens of individuals were arrested related to the violence and destruction of property.
Interfaith Violence Erupts Across India Amid Festival for Hindu God Rama
On April 10th, this year’s Ram Navami festival, which celebrates the birth of Hindu god Rama, was marred by violence across India. The violence broke out almost simultaneously across several different states. In Gujarat, an unidentified person was killed while another was injured. Anand Ajit Rajyan, superintendent of police, explained that two groups were throwing stones at each other during the festival. Fifteen individuals were arrested in Gujarat. Twelve people were injured, while one person was killed in Jharkhand during stone-throwing and arson attacks. In Madhya Pradesh, seventy-seven individuals were arrested in Khargone, where some of the worst violence occurred. Following reports of Muslims throwing stones at Hindu processions in Khargone, the state’s Home Minister said, “Whichever houses were involved in stone-pelting, we’ll ensure they are turned into piles of stones themselves.” Dozens of structures, mostly belonging to Muslims, were then illegally bulldozed the same day, leaving several families homeless. In contrast, there are several reports of Hindus helping their Muslim neighbors escape the violence in Khargone. At the same time, Muslims distributed water to Hindu worshippers in Bengal while they themeselves fasted during Ramadan.
Indonesian Ex-Muslim Sentenced to 10 Years in Jail for Criticizing Islam
On April 6th, a 56-year-old Indoneisan former Muslim cleric turned Christian Youtuber, Muhammad Kace, was sentenced to ten years in prison for allegedly posting offensive videos. Kace reportedly claimed that the Prophet Muhammad is unknown to God “because devils surround him.” He was arrested in August 2021 after many complaints were filed against him. Kace has been in detention since his arrest where, according to the Persecution International Christian Concern, he suffered inhumane treatment. According to local news, another inmate, a detained police official named Napoleon Bonaparte, beat Kace and forced him to eat his excrement. Prosecutors insisted on a 10-year jail sentence for Kace. According to UCA News, the prosecutors charged Kace with spreading fake information, which carries a heavier penalty, instead of charging him with blasphemy. Blasphemy cases in Indonesia have a 5-year maximum jail sentence, while misinformation charges can go as high as ten years. Kace’s lawyer said that they would appeal the ruling.
Delhi Man Lynched on Suspicion of Cow Slaughter
On April 11th, in western New Delhi, a farm caretaker was murdered after a group of men attacked him for allegedly slaughtering a cow. Five other men were injured during the attack. The police had received reports of alleged cow slaughter and they rushed to the scene, but the attack was already taking place. They were able to stop the attack but unfortunately, one of the victims, Rajaram, a 40-year-old man, died of injuries on the same day. The police registered two FIRs (First Information Report) and arrested five individuals suspected of cow slaughter, but no one was arrested for murder. The police also said that they collected a few samples from the spot and sent them for examination for the cow slaughter investigation. 10 to 15 men claiming to be cow vigilantes carried out the attacks. Jhaso Devi, Rajaram’s wife, accused the attackers of spreading false rumors about her husband.
Bangladeshi Teacher Arrested for Saying “There Is No Evidence in Religion”
On March 22nd, Hriday Chandra Mondal, a high school teacher in Bangladesh was arrested by authorities for telling students that “religion is a matter of faith.” Amnesty International managed to access an audio recording where Mondal is heard saying “There is no evidence in religion. Religion, in the end, says God will take care of everything. Religion offers memorized words whereas science shows evidence.” This recording was used to file a police complaint against him. Two days later, he was arrested and was charged with two counts of blasphemy-related offenses. Mondal’s initial attempts for bail petition were rejected twice. Bangladesh’s Education Minister, Dipu Moni, said Mondal’s arrest is unfortunate and called for further investigation. Smriti Singh, Deputy Regional Director for South Asia at Amnesty International, called Mondal’s detention a shameful sign of the disturbing trend in Bangladesh. After 19 days in prison, Mondal was released.
Woman Who Sued Cop for “Forced Baptism” Found Dead
On April 13th, 42-year-old Shandele Marie Riley, who had just begun the process of suing a police officer for allegedly forcing her to get baptized during a traffic stop, was found dead in her home. The cause for her death is still unknown at this time. The police are reportedly waiting for the medical examiner’s autopsy reports to determine if any “foul play” involved. In 2019, Riley filed a lawsuit against Daniel Wilkey, a Deputy officer from Hamilton County, Tennessee. Riley accused Wilkey of baptizing her against her will in exchange for being let off with only a citation for marijuana possession, a controlled substance in the state. She was forced to drive to Soddy Lake while Wilkey called another deputy, Jacob Goforth, as a witness for the baptism, who recorded the incident on his phone. In 2019, Wilkey was involved in several lawsuits, charged with 44 counts of assault, including rape and official oppression. Robin Flores, Riley’s attorney, said his team plans to have Riley’s children take her place as the plaintiff. He explained that they could use her recorded deposition to continue the lawsuit.He added, “a baptism by a police officer in the line of duty, in exchange for leniency in a criminal case is beyond the pale.”
Six Men Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy Lynching that Shocked the World
Location: Lahore, Pakistan
On April 18th, Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court sentenced six men to death, while nine people were handed life imprisonment sentences for the brutal mob lynching of Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan working as a factory manager in Sialkot, Pakistan. The court also gave a 5-year imprisonment sentence to one individual, while 72 individuals were given a 2-year jail sentence. Kumara was killed on December 3rd, 2021, over blasphemy allegations. Kumara, during preparation of the factory for a site visit, asked factory workers to remove any stickers on the machinery. Workers accused him of “desecrating posters bearing the name of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad,” which led to the mob lynching in which hundreds of men participated. The recordings of the incident appalled the international community, and drew harsh condemnation. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Sugeeswara Gunaratne, demanded that Pakistan “take the required action to investigate and ensure justice.” Abdul Rauf Wattoo, the lead prosecutor, said “We are satisfied with the outcome.”
Indian High Court Rejects Recognition of Gay Marriage; cites ‘Hindu Culture’
On April 14th, the high court of Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, India, rejected the plea of a lesbian couple to have their marriage recognized. The government of Uttar Pradesh opposed the plea, insisting that same-sex marriage is against Indian culture and the Hindu religion. “In India, marriage is considered a sacred ‘sanskar,’ whereas, in other countries, marriage is a contract,” Uttar Pradesh’s counsel said. The state’s counsel also explained that India “runs according to the Indian culture, religions, and Indian law.” The counsel added that marriage without a man is unacceptable since it is beyond the concept of what is considered a family in Indian culture. Although the Hindu Marriage Act of 1995 does not explicitly prohibit marriage between same-sex couples, it defines a valid marriage between a groom and a bride. Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav eventually rejected the couple’s plea and also dismissed the case submitted by the mother of one of the couple, which accused the other of “abducting” her daughter.
Polish Party Proposes Three Years in Jail for “Insulting the Church”
Recently, Solidarna Polska (United Poland), a Polish conservative party, proposed a three-year jail sentence for anyone who insults the church or religious sentiments. According to Marcin Warchoł, the deputy justice minister of the party, desecrations of the images of the Virgin Mary, disruption of church services, and spraying of slogans on church walls are just a few examples justifying this proposed law. Last year, Nergal, the vocalist of the Polish extreme metal band Behemoth, was convicted of “offending religious feelings” for showing himself stepping on a painting of the Virgin Mary. The conviction was later overturned in court after Nergal challenged it. Warchol added, there were also multiple incidents during LGBTQ parades where the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ were depicted with rainbow halos. Anti-abortion demonstrators also interrupted church service and vandalized church properties. Warchol claimed that the laws aimed to expand freedom and rights for the LGBTQ community are “at the expense of Christians.” According to the new law public mocking of church or other religious association would lead to two years in prison, or up to three years if it is done via social media.
Richard Dawkins and Atheist Republic to Speak in Germany!
Exciting news! Atheist Republic will be speaking alongside an incredible panel of speakers, including Dr. Richard Dawkins, at “Celebrating Dissent 2022” in Cologne, Germany, during August 20-21! Celebrating Dissent 2022 will be the largest gathering of ex-Muslims, freethinkers, and intellectuals championing freedom of thought since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Atheist Republic’s founder, Armin Navabi, and President and CEO, Susanna McIntyre, will be speaking at Celebrating Dissent 2022! More than 50 freethought champions from over 30 countries will come together to celebrate freethought and dissent through talks, poetry, film, music, and comedy. Get your tickets today!: https://tinyurl.com/cdissent
Read More Atheist Republic Riots Erupt in Sweden Over Plans to Burn Quran at Far-Right Rally