In May, 2013, we reported on a story that demonstrates how religious laws can be used to promote religious ideology within a country's legal system. This story quickly got the attention of our readers. With over 20 thousand likes, it is currently the most visited and read article of all blog posts and news stories on the site.
Australian hotel employee, Alicia Gali was in the United Arab Emirates for work, and while there, she was drugged and raped by three of her Muslim colleagues. When she awoke, she went to hospital and reported the crime. But because the UAE follows Sharia law to some extent, they usually favor Muslim men in rape incidents. Gali was charged with "sex outside of wedlock", found guilty and spent eight months in a UAE prison.
These types of incidents outrage most decent people. Atheists find them especially maddening because too often, religion provides immunity from prosecution or an excuse for human rights abuses. It's one thing for an individual to use religion to justify his/her immoral, unethical or illegal opinions but it enters a new level when the leaders of an entire country use the legal system to pervert, elevate and advance the religious ideologies that serve as a mechanism to promote human rights abuses.
The top comment about this story was from Man-Khoi Nguyen, from Stafford, Texas who said, "I can't believe such stupidity still exists in this world. Cultural differences could not be used even as a sympathetic explanation for such a horrendous code of law." With 256 likes, it's clear that many of you agreed.
Charl Möller and Akram Ali cautioned against labeling this as a religious act. Akram noted that Islam views rape as a crime of violence and Charl noted that this is a case of religion being misused, but continued by saying, "...the fact remains,religions [lie] at the root of this problem, involved as a scapegoat for wrong doers. Were it not for that, many many many atrocities would not be committed daily because there would be no scapegoat..."
It is important to continue to examine how religion impacts society. This story may not necessarily provide objective analysis, as it is a single incident that may not be representative of the overall system. However, as Atheist Republic team member Armin Navabi stated, "at the end of the day, we are emotional animals. Statistical numbers don't usually motivate us to stand for change. We need both statistical analysis and also real life examples of how religion is impacting people to be sure that we are not relying on only a few examples to shape our world view and to understand and empathize with the victims." Which is why Atheist Republic will continue to tell the stories of those impacted by religious abuse, oppression, subjugation and violence.
If you have a penchant for news writing, we are always looking for more writers to join our journalist team. As a news writer, you can bring attention to stories you care about or news from your own area which will be shared with the Atheist Republic community including the more than 800 thousand fans on our Facebook page and the broader atheist community.