Read More Atheist Republic Savage Mullahs: Ayatollah Khamenei’s Rule Declared Illegitimate by Iranian Islamic Scholars
Recently, Islamic scholars and seminarians from many religious schools in Iran are challenging the authority and legitimacy of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s leadership due to the crimes committed by his regime. In a statement released on September 30th, an anonymous collective from seminary schools in Qom, Mashhad, and Tehran, the country’s holiest cities, claimed that “none of the influential officials and people with a platform are mujtahids and do not have a seminary education.” A mujtahid is considered an authoritative Islamic scholar whose interpretations of jurisprudence are accepted as original and valid by contemporaries. It is one of the highest levels of Islamic scholarship and a prerequisite for the position of “Supreme Leader” as dictated by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The group also clarified that they are breaking their silence over the ongoing violent crackdown on protesters. They consider it their “religious and moral duty to inform the rulers and the nation” of their opinion. Despite being a legal requirement to wear a hijab in Iran, the group of clerics and their students clarified that “the compulsion to observe hijab has no Shariah reason.”
Indian Muslim Man Kills Hindu Wife for Refusing to Wear Hijab
Location: Mumbai, India
On September 26th, a Muslim man, Iqbal Mohammad Sheikh murdered his wife, Rupali Chandanshive, a 20-year-old Hindu woman, by slitting her throat with a sharp knife and stabbing her hands multiple times for not wearing a burqa as per Islamic traditions and demanding a divorce. According to the reports, the incident happened in the suburban Tilak Nagar area of west Chembur, Mumbai. Iqbal and the victim Rupali have been married for three years since 2019 in a conversion-marriage ceremony. Rupali reportedly had to face constant pressure from Iqbal and his family to follow Islamic traditions. Rupali never listened to her husband’s and in-laws’ demands, which led to a never-ending cycle of domestic abuse. Exhausted from the abuse, Rupali decided to leave her marital house to live separately with her child about six months ago. After a quarrel over a phone call, Iqbal hauled Rupali to a nearby alley, where he murdered her and fled the scene. Iqbal was arrested under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and was taken into police custody for interrogation.
Catholic Churches Fight to Maintain Loophole in Child Sex Abuse Reporting
The Associated Press investigative team recently released their finding after examining more than 130 bills to amend child sex abuse reporting laws in the United States. The AP investigation concluded that “None of them succeeded in closing the clergy loophole.” The loophole is the “clergy-penitent privilege,” which exempts clergy and priests in all religious denominations from reporting child abuse heard in a confessional setting. In 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City heavily opposed House Bill 90 (HB90) in Utah. The church gathered 9,000 signed letters from its parishioners and sent them to Rep. Angela Romero, the bill’s author. Romero, a Democrat, has been working on HB90 as part of her campaign against the sexual abuse of children. The bill was eventually axed in March 2020. The Catholic church in Utah used its well-funded lobbying infrastructure and coordinated with the Mormon church and Jehovah’s Witnesses to further bolster their defense against bills like HB90. In August 2022, the AP reported that the Mormon bishop in Arizona had allowed the rape and abuse of MJ, a 5-year-old girl, by her father. The father continued sexually abusing the victim “for as many as seven more years, into her adolescence.” Sen. Victoria Steele, a Democrat from Tucson, Arizona, said the church’s power over the legislature makes it difficult to share stories like that of MJ.
35 Killed in Suicide Bomb Attack on School in Kabul, Afghanistan
On September 30th, at least 35 young people were killed and more than eighty wounded at the Kaaj Education Center in Kabul, Afghanistan, by a suicide bomber. The Kaaj Education Center is located in a Hazara Shia neighborhood. According to a local journalist, Bilal Sarwary, the number of dead is approximately one hundred. The Hazaras have been persecuted for centuries in Afghanistan, and the Taliban targeted them heavily during their former rule in the 1990s. On the day of the attack, the students aged between eighteen and twenty-five arrived early for a practice exam. According to Shafi Akbary, “First, we heard gunshots at the main gate. Everyone was worried and tried to run in a different direction. Soon after that, a huge explosion occurred inside the center.” Although Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, condemned the attack, the Taliban did not show sympathy the day after the attack when they beat and shot at demonstrators protesting the violence against the Hazara Shias. As of now, no group has claimed responsibility, but the involvement of ISIS-Khorasan is likely, and Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said that police had arrested a suspect. The hashtag #StopHazaraGenocide has been used over 6 million times as the global community calls attention to the ongoing targeted killings.
1 in 3 Southeast Asian Muslims Are More Religious Than Their Parents
Location: Southeast Asia
According to a recent report, 1 in 3 Southeast Asian Muslims consider themselves to be more religious than their parents. “The New Muslim Consumer” was released on September 21 by the marketing, research, and advertising company Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. The report explores how religious observance affects consumer market trends, and is based on a survey of 1,000 Indonesians and Malaysians. Among the findings, only 21% of respondents say that they are less religiously observant than their parents, while 45% say they are equally observant. This means a third consider themselves more religiously focused than their parents. The report says, “the idea of halal has gone from mostly about food, namely avoiding pork and alcohol, to include travel, fashion, banking, education and more.” Asia Pacific Director for Wunderman, Chen May Yee, said, “Muslim consumers are increasingly overlaying their religious beliefs on purchase decisions.” He further added, “New technologies bring new questions. For example, is the metaverse halal?” The report mentions sharia-compliant banking apps, hijabi-only hair salons, and halal restaurants are becoming more popular. Founder of Kuala Lumpur’s Iman research says, “It’s good to have a halal process. But do you have to tag it to everything? We have become overly cautious. I blame politics.”
“Hopeless Situation;” Attacks on Christians in Nigeria Explode in Frequency
On September 17th, a pastor and dozens from his congregation were kidnapped from a Christian church in northwest Nigeria. Fifty-seven Christians were kidnapped at another church in a north-central state less than a week before. There has been a significant increase in attacks and abductions of both Christian church members and their clergy in Nigeria. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), forty-five attacks were carried out in the first six months of 2022 alone. Last June, at least fifty died when assailants opened fire and detonated explosives. From January 2020 to July 2022, there were ninety-nine separate incidents in which priests were kidnapped or murdered. Malik Samuel, a researcher at the Institute of Security Studies, explains, “When you kidnap or kill a Christian priest, you get local and as well international attention, and that brings legitimacy to your ransom demand.” The Christian NGO Open Doors reported that 4,650 Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2021. Adebayo Oladeji, a spokesman from the Christian Association of Nigeria, said, “It is becoming a hopeless situation.”
“Untouchable” Teen Dies After Beating From Teacher Over Wrong Answer
On September 7th, a 15-year-old Dalit boy, Nikhil Dohre, was severely beaten by an “upper caste” teacher, Ashwini Singh, for making a mistake on an exam in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Some reports say that the teacher used a stick or a rod to beat the young boy; others report that he was kicked until he fell unconscious. After the incident, Dohre received medical treatment, but his health deteriorated, and he was taken to a hospital with intensive care. The following day the formal declaration of death was determined. According to the police complaint filed by the father of the deceased, Ashwini initially promised to pay the expenses for the boy’s medical treatment. However, after giving 40,000 rupees to the father, he then stopped taking his calls. After the news of Nikhil’s death spread, violent protests erupted. The protestors set two police vehicles on fire and damaged several private cars. Protestors also allegedly threw stones at police for not being able to catch the accused, who fled. Additional police forces were later dispatched to control the situation. On September 29th, after a week-long search, the police arrested the accused teacher.
Hindu Group Sues CA, Says Ban Against Casteism Unfairly Targets Hindus
On September 22nd, the Hindu American Foundation(HAF) filed a complaint raising their concerns about the state of California as a counter to a recent Hindu caste discrimination lawsuit. The original lawsuit was filed in 2020 by the California Department of Civil Rights on behalf of an anonymous employee of Cisco in California. The plaintiff claimed that his Hindu supervisors deliberately cut him off from important meetings and halted his growth in the company by denying him any promotions just because he belonged to the Dalit caste. Cisco stood on its stance that there was “no evidence” that suggests that the employee faced discrimination. Suhag Shukla, executive director of the Hindu American Foundation, said in the complaint, “the State is treating Hindus in a manner that is different from the way it treats every other religious group.” The Hindu American Foundation stated that the caste system is not a core aspect of the Hindu religion and should not be taken as such by the California Department of Civil Rights. According to the HAF, ending caste discrimination is a “worthy goal” as it would strengthen the Hindu belief in equality. A 2018 survey by the Dalit civil rights group Equality Labs found that 67% of Dalits in the United States who responded felt mistreated at their workplaces, including Google and Microsoft.
Atheist Convention in India Draws 10,000, Largest Meet-Up in the World!
Location: Kerala, India
On October 2nd, an annual gathering of atheists, Litmus’ 22, took place in Kerala, India. Over ten thousand atheists and freethinkers from across the state met up with each other at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium. The event organizers, esSENSE Global, promoted the gathering with the tagline, “the world’s biggest atheist meet in ‘god’s own country.” Debates and discussions on various topics, such as atheism, religion, casteism, Hindutva, and politics in Islam took place at Litmus ’22. One of the organizers, Tomy Sebastian, said that the number of attendees has rapidly increased since the first event. Sebastian mentioned that the first edition of the gathering in 2018 had about 4000 participants. The second edition saw 8000 attendees. This time over 10,000 people showed up for the event. During the event, one of the founding members of esSENSE Global, C Ravichandran, compared god to a fictional character, such as Harry Potter. Askar Ali, an apostate of Islam, centered his speech on “Insha Allah.” Notable Ex-Muslim activist Arif Hussain Theruvath debated the topic “is religious education necessary?”
Atheist Republic Joins Protests for Iranian Freedom!
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The Atheist Republic News Team recently discussed how the Atheist Republic community has contributed to the global protests in support of the freedom of Iran! Atheist Republic’s CEO, Susanna McIntyre, and the lead organizer of the Atheist Republic Persian-language branch, Babak Dalivand, have been very active at local protests and came back with a field report. The team dissected common contentions at some demonstrations, such as disagreements over what flags to display, the historical significance of these flags and why they are controversial, as well as differences between anti-regime activists that support the monarchy versus anti-regime communists. The AR team also reviewed a lot of footage and street photography from the protests and spoke about why they feel personally compelled to show solidarity with the freedom-seeking Iranian people.