Read More Atheist Republic How Iran Fuels Online Trolls to Spread Anti-Hindu Disinformation
A recent study published by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) showed that anti-Hindu content is becoming increasingly visible across social media platforms, such as Reddit, Twitter, Telegram, and Gab. The study demonstrated that anti-Hindu slurs and contents spiked after Parag Agrawal, an Indian-American software engineer, was appointed as CEO of Twitter in November 2021. The study finds that most anti-Hindu content is generated by troll farms based in Iran masquerading as human rights activists, journalists, and humanists. It is evident that the misinformation spread by these accounts exacerbates the religious tensions between India and Pakistan. The study also highlighted that these trolls posed as individuals from Pakistan, blaming “Hindu Extremists” for a bombing carried out by ISIS in 2017 on a Bhopal–Ujjain Passenger train. John Farmer, one of the study’s authors, stated, “Violence commonly follows hateful memes, hashtags, and such.” Therefore, the real danger in these hateful online contents is their tendency to translate to real-life violence.
Anti-Hijab Civil Disobedience Leads to Arrest of Iranian Women
Amid the Iranian regime’s intensifying campaign to strictly enforce the nation’s compulsory hijab laws, the arrests of women who have begun to protest these ordinances have also increased. Recently, despite the restrictions, voices of women speaking out over this issue have become more prominent. On July 12th, during their ‘No2 Hijab’ campaign, many women posted photos and videos of them removing their hijab, accompanied with captions such as “The good feeling of freedom – NO2 Hijab”. Many were arrested for their civil disobedience. Ahmad Vahidi, the Interior Minister, said that the government’s Special Unit would take action against those breaking rules. Some called hijab violators “Satan’s troops,” and some alleged these women committed ‘Moharebeh,’ meaning “enemy of God.” One prominent arrest is that of 28-year-old Sepideh Rashno. She was detained on July 16th following a viral video in which she was confronted by a regime-supporting woman for not wearing a hijab on the public bus. The religious woman yelled that she would report Rashno to the authorities before the other bus riders pushed her off the vehicle at the nearest stop, leaving another passenger bitten and bleeding in the process.
Indian Man Arrested for Posing as Muslim and Posting Insults to Hindu Gods
In the Indian state of Karnataka, a young Hindu man, identified as Divin Devaiah, posted a series of obscene posts that insulted the Goddess Cauvery and the local women of Kodagu via a fake social media profile meant to appear as though it belonged to a Muslim. Kodagu is considered a stronghold of BJP and Hindu organizations and a communally sensitive area. Various organizations had called for a complete shutdown of the locality, condemning the posts and starting a protest as the issue had taken a communal turn, threatening the law and order situation of the district. After the arrest of the accused, the shutdown was withdrawn. Sources said that the Mumbai Police had received the information from Facebook’s parent company Meta regarding the fake Facebook account and shared the details with the local police that led to the arrest.
How Hindu Nationalism Caused Drama in Maryland’s Election Race for Governor
Lieutenant Governor candidate Aruna Miller, who served in Maryland’s House of Delegates from 2010 to 2019, is facing backlash from Maryland voters due to her history of accepting donations from Hindutva-affiliated donors as she pursues the state’s second-highest executive office. The influence of Hindu nationalism in US politics received attention in 2019 when an investigation revealed that former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign received funding from leaders of the US chapter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an Indian Hindu nationalist paramilitary group. Scott Webber of Maryland Progressive Voices, at a press conference on July 11th, detailed Miller’s association with Hindutva donors for over a decade and attending events hosted by the Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP), the international wing of India’s ruling BJP party. One such event that Miller attended was a banquet celebrating Narendra Modi’s election to the office of Prime Minister of India, in which Miller spoke bold praise of Modi. In May 2022, referencing her attendance at the OFBJP banquet, Miller posted on Twitter: “I attended an event a decade ago before any authoritarian action he took as Prime Minister.” This misleading response fails to acknowledge that before his time as Prime Minister, Modi had been banned from entering the US for nearly a decade due to his culpability in the violence in Gujarat in 2002, which killed thousands. While Aruna Miller won’t acknowledge the tens of thousands of dollars that she has received from Hindutva-related donors throughout her political career, the competing King-Siri campaign for governor issued a statement that publically refused a donation made by a Hindutva-tied donor.
Iranian Influencer Faces Death Penalty for Illegal Gambling Sites
Milad Hatemi, a famous Instagram influencer from Iran, has been indicted for allegedly running an online gambling operation. Such a charge carries the death penalty in the country. He urged his four million followers that a glamorous life similar to his own could be achieved by gambling. His profile has numerous posts on exotic cars and other such luxuries enticing many to gamble their money in the schemes he promoted. The Islamic Republic of Iran accused him of making illegal profits and money laundering. Hatami was arrested in Turkey and deported back to Iran last March. The Iranian judiciary’s media center released a statement accusing Hatemi of “corruption on earth through widespread abuse and disruption of the country’s monetary and currency system, amounting at a minimum to more than half a million [US] dollars.” The charge of “spreading corruption of earth” draws from Islamic scripture and is a broadly defined crime capable of encompassing anything deemed undesirable by the Iranian regime.
The Israeli Battle Over “Kosher Cell Phones”
Recently, many smartphone stores in Israel have been attacked by the Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, the “Haredi,” because they are angered that non-“Kosher” smartphones are now readily available in the country. In Bnei Brak, the epicenter of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and the economic power hub of the nation, riots occurred, and many cell phone stores were vandalized. In April, Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel announced that smartphone companies must allow full accessibility on the so-called “kosher” lines. These “kosher” devices are devoid of most of the necessary features that a smartphone has, including access to the internet, social media, and even domestic violence hotlines. These devices can only make or receive calls from similar devices. According to 39-year-old Uriel Diament, an owner of a small cellphone store, “The strategy is to go shop to shop and intimidate the sellers. The [demonstrators] are lied to, they tell them I’m selling iPhones with internet access to 13-year-olds, but that’s not true. It’s not about serving God; they’re a mafia.”
Xi Jinping Says That Islam in China “Must be Chinese in Orientation”
Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, visited the northwestern region of Xinjiang in mid-July, signaling no change in his government’s treatment of the region. Following the direction of Xi, Chinese authorities have orchestrated a mass crackdown on Xinjiang’s Uyghur and Kazakh Muslim communities after an outbreak of deadly separatist violence. While an exact number has not been published, analysts say the number of detained is likely to be a million or more. During the visit, Xi instructed local officials to enhance their efforts to “uphold the principle that Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation and to adapt religions to a socialist society,” according to Xinhua News Agency, a state-run outlet. Any “suspicious” sign from Uyghurs, such as having a beard, making prayers, communicating with relatives abroad, or engaging in “unauthorized” online activities, could result in detainment and being subjected to a state-orchestrated re-education process. The Xi Jinping government has also been accused of targeting Muslim religious figures, banning religious practices in the region, and destroying many sacred mosques and tombs.
Australian Man on Trial for Planning ISIS Attack on LGBT Mardi Gras Event
On July 18th, 48-year-old defendant Hamdi Al-Qudsi from New South Wales, Australia, appeared in court as he faced charges of creating a terrorist organization, known as the Shura, with the intention of carrying out domestic attacks. The Supreme Court’s Crown prosecutor, Patricia McDonald, advised the court that Al-Qudsi allegedly created the Shura and acted as their leader from August through December 2014. Shura’s intention from the beginning was to send combatants from Australia over to Syria to fight the coalition forces or government. McDonald attested to the jury that once the Australian Federal Police and NSW Police took action and interfered with Shura’s plot by confiscating passports, the group realigned as domestic terrorists. The Shura and Al-Qudsi allegedly plotted attacks at several locations, including the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Sydney Israeli embassy. The jury listened to more than 40 phone taps between Al-Qudsi and members of his Shura group and contacts in Syria. Al-Qudsi and his Shura group would use codes structured as “A-League soccer matches” whenever discussing plans for traveling to Syria. Al-Qudsi has pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. The trial is still in progress and is expected to take 5-6 weeks.
Religious Crackdown in Lebanon Hits LGBT Community
“Ungodly” and “not in line with Lebanese customs” – these are some of the reasons why Lebanese security forces have cracked down on various LGBTQ community groups and their events. LGBTQ-friendly events, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry on June 24, “violate our society’s customs and traditions, and contradict the principles of the Abrahamic religions.” In the Christian Achrafieh district, supporters named the “Soldiers of God” removed a billboard that supports and promotes activities and events along with the Pride Month celebration. Sunni Tarik Jdideh residents also converged and condemned activities of the LGBTQ community, dubbing these an “infiltration” into their community. These actions, among others, have instilled fear in the members of the LGBTQ community. Many activities such as meet-ups and performing in drag shows have been put on hold. Supposedly, Lebanon’s LGBTQ community is the most open among the Arab countries and has grown in public visibility in the past few years, even though homosexuality is against the law. Law 534 criminalizes homosexuality as an “act against nature.” In 2016, at least 76 individuals were arrested on charges of “sexual intercourse contrary to nature.” Activists say that the crackdown is a fabricated moral panic meant to distract from the spiraling economic and financial crisis that the country is experiencing.
Atheist Republic Arabic Now on Spotify and Anchor.FM!
Atheist Republic’s Arabic Channel, Jumhuriat Al Elhaad, has recently launched its own presence of Spotify and Anchor.FM! Adding our content to these audio-centered platforms makes finding Arabic-language atheist shows much more accessible to people living in restrictive environments and internet restrictions. Jumhuriat Al Elhaad has released a lot of excellent conversations recently, including with Saudi Arabia’s first openly gay man, and numerous other activists fighting homophobia in the Arab world.
Read More Atheist Republic How Iran Fuels Online Trolls to Spread Anti-Hindu Disinformation