- 22-yr-old Beaten to Death for "Improper Hijab" Sparks Eruption Across Iran
On September 13th, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, was arrested for alleged "improper hijab" by the Morality Police, a branch of Iran's law enforcement that patrols the streets enforcing the country's compulsory hijab laws. Two hours after her arrest, Mahsa was rushed to the hospital, where she fell into a coma and eventually passed away on September 16th. Protests and civil disobedience against the compulsory wearing of the hijab were already taking place since Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's president, mandated much harsher enforcement of the Islamic dress code last July. As news of Mahsa's death spread across the country, massive protests broke out across Iran, reportedly throughout over 80 cities. At least 31 civilian deaths at the hands of Iran's Special Forces and local police have been reported. The unprecedented protests are led by women, with large crowds cheering them on as some protestors remove their hijabs and throw them into a fire while dancing, while others cut their hair in mourning and solidarity. The situation in Iran is rapidly developing, establishing a new radical norm across different sectors of society, and has garnered global attention and resulted in protests in support of the Iranian people worldwide.
- Hindu-Muslim Mob Violence Flares Tensions In the United Kingdom
It all started on August 28th, when a cricket match between India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates sparked numerous violent interreligious protests in the city of Leicester in the United Kingdom. It's still unclear which side started the violence; some claim that after India won the game, supporters poured onto the streets and began chanting anti-Pakistan slogans. The religious community leaders have called for an end to the protests, but the animosity between the Hindu and Muslim groups has remained and even spread to other cities. Videos of the protests went viral online, in which masked men throwing bottles at police, shouting anti-Hindu or anti-Muslim slogans, and tearing down a religious flag at a Hindu temple can be seen. A saffron 'om' flag, a symbol of the Hindu religion, was desecrated by an Islamic mob directly in front of the Leicester police. A Muslim community leader, Rukhsana Hussain, told the Guardian about a radical group that marched through east Leicester on September 17th, chanting "Jai Shri Ram," a pro-Hindutva slogan. A former chairperson of a national Hindu organization, Drishti Mae, said that the Hindus were the targets of harassment. A large number of law enforcers were dispatched to control the violence. Dozens of perpetrators have been arrested by police, including a 20-year-old already sentenced to 10 months in prison. Reportedly, a large portion of those arrested were not even residents of Leicester but outsiders that came to engage in group intimidation on behalf of their religious group.
- Doctor’s Claim that 92% of Saudi Women Watch P*rn Sparks Outrage
Location: Saudi Arabia
Recently, in a televised interview in Saudi Arabia, a prominent doctor, Dr. Nizar Bahber, stated that 92% of Saudi women had watched online pornography. His statement sparked rage in the Saudi social media realm. Dr. Bahber is the Director of The Saudi Society for Infectious Diseases, with over 230,000 online followers. He was lamenting over access to pornography, which he claims is freely aired on satellite television. He mentioned in the interview that data from 2014 showed that just 23% of Saudi women reported seeing at least one pornographic video. However, when the survey was repeated in 2019, that number went up to 92%. "Therefore, in many premarital seminars, I tell men that you cannot blame your wife, who you recently married, and ask her 'How do you know about these things?' because access to this content is much easier than before," the doctor said. As a reaction to the doctor's remarks, the Arabic hashtag "Nazar Bahberi insults Saudi women" quickly went viral. One user tweeted, "He is sitting there and giving the world the impression that Saudi women are easy." Defending himself, the doctor stated that the latest survey had a sample of 3,000 respondents and was done "In order to create proper awareness content" and "to determine the extent of the problem."
- The Battle to Allow Hindu Prayers in a Historic Indian Mosque
Recently, the Gyanvapi Mosque in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India has been disputed over whether Hindus or Muslims should have control of the site and who is allowed to pray on its premises. Historians widely agree that in the past, a Hindu temple to Lord Shiva was built at the current location of the mosque. According to historical accounts, in 1669, the Mugal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered the temple's destruction, and the Gyanvapi Mosque was built atop its remains. Going back to 1991, local Hindu priests petitioned to access the mosque, and 20 years later, this contention has been reignited. The mosque's Management Committee challenged the petition to allow Hindu prayers inside of the mosque, saying it violated the Places of Worship Act, which upholds the status of all religious sites as they stood at the time of Independence (1947). In April 2021, a "videographic survey" of the site was ordered after a new petition to worship was filed by 5 Hindu women. The survey revealed evidence of Hindu symbols and iconography and the discovery of a "shivling." The mosque's Management Committee countered that the shivling was the remains of a fountain that worshippers use to wash before praying. The two sides continue to go back and forth in the courts, with no clear end in sight.
- "Undermining Islam;" Morrocan Given 2 Years Imprisonment for Blasphemy
On September 13th, Moroccan blogger Fatima Karim, was sentenced to two years in prison for "undermining the Islamic religion" after she posted "offensive" writings on Facebook. Fatima has been in detention since mid-July for sharing satirical verses of the Quran and hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad on her Facebook page. In the trial, Fatima's representation argued that she exercised her right to freedom of speech under the Moroccan constitution. Fatima claims that she supports secularism which means the indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations. She also publicly apologized to "anyone who felt offended." Habib Aadi, Fatima's lawyer, said, "It's a very harsh verdict" and further added that the appeal in cassation is "still under study."
- Jewish University Battles in the US Supreme Court to Block LGBT Club
Yeshiva University, a Jewish University in New York City, has announced it will "pause" all student groups after a US Supreme Court decision allowing an LGBTQ group on the university campus. YU Pride Alliance, an LGBTQ student group, sued the school in 2020 after it refused to recognize them officially. The university claims that the court case is "solely about YU's freedom to act according to its values without government interference." After the New York County Supreme Court ordered the group's approval, YU appealed the decision and got rejected. On August 29th, the university requested the US Supreme Court to intervene. The Supreme Court rejected the request on procedural grounds, stating that all avenues of appeal had not yet been exercised and that upon completion of said avenues, the university may return to the Supreme Court. In response, the university decided to suspend all student group activities while waiting for the legalities to play out. A lawyer on the student's side, Katie Rosenfeld, stated that the tactics adopted by the university are "a throwback to fifty years ago when the city of Jacksonville, Mississippi, closed all public swimming pools rather than comply with court orders to desegregate."
- Denmark Proposes Hijab Ban in Elementary School, Backlash Ensues
On September 12, The Danish Commission for the Forgotten Women's Struggle, an organization of Denmark's ruling Social Democratic Party, announced a proposal to ban hijabs for students across Danish elementary schools. It is one of the nine recommendations to prevent "honor-related social control" of women from minority backgrounds. Additional recommendations include modern Danish language courses for selected minority ethnic parents, ethnically diverse groups in day-care centers, preventing exemptions to Christian studies classes in school, improvement of sex education in primary schools, and tighter oversight of independent Muslim schools. The headscarf ban proposal has faced huge backlash in Denmark. Iram Khawaja, associate professor at the Danish School of Education at Aarhus University, has spoken against the ban. Khawaja said, "It is problematic to equate wearing the hijab with negative social control – there are also girls who do not wear the hijab who are exposed to negative social control."
- Atheist Political Power Highlighted in Election Campaign!
In honor of the 235th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) launched a new national campaign called "We're atheists, and we vote" on September 17th. The campaign aims to call attention to the growing political opinions of atheists in America and the urgent need to keep religion and its influence out of legislation, the judiciary, and public education. According to FFRF, the campaign aims to counter the "growing and increasingly overt calls to Christian nationalism." It plans to set up billboards along the highways of swing states that feature photographs of non-religious residents with slogans like "I'm an atheist, and I vote." Full-page ads of atheists declaring that there are "more than 75 million secular Americans who are not religious are planned to be published in the Washington Post and 44 other newspapers. The media blitz also informs politicians that the "Nones" (those of us unaffiliated with religion) are now 29% of the U.S. population.
- Twitter Court Documents Reveal Why Atheist Republic Was Suspended!
Atheist Republic has a new update to our legal battle in the Delhi High Court! As a background explainer, in July 2021, Aditya Singh Deshwal, a Delhi-based lawyer, filed a complaint against Twitter for allowing the Atheist Republic to post "objectionable" images. According to Deshwal, the Atheist Republic has willfully outraged and hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus. He added that Twitter is an accomplice by intentionally not removing the offensive content. In the last hearing on March 28th, 2022, the judges accused Twitter of discriminating against the Hindu religion. They even compared the Atheist Republic to President Trump's incitement to violence during the insurrection on January 6th, 2021. Twitter's senior counsel argued that they could not take down content without a court order. Four days later, the Atheist Republic Twitter account, the largest atheist community account on the platform, was suspended without notice or explanation.
This brings us to the most recent court hearing on September 6th. In court documents that Twitter submitted before the court, the true reason for suspending the Atheist Republic account was finally exposed! In the papers, Twitter explained that Atheist Republic's account was suspended for violation of the platform's "ban evasion" policy, in an apparent reference to the previous suspension of Atheist Republic's founder, Armin Navabi, and current President & CEO, Susanna McIntyre.
Atheist Republic contests that this is inappropriate enforcement of Twitter's ban evasion policy, as Armin Navabi, Susanna McIntyre, and Atheist Republic are all separate entities. Atheist Republic does not represent Navabi and McIntyre; instead, they represent the organization as the public leadership of the largest community of atheists in the world. Furthermore, the Atheist Republic account has not been used for the personal use of Navabi or McIntyre.
In regards to pursuing a reinstatement to Atheist Republic's Twitter account, the organization continues to pursue all legal options available. This will include hiring additional legal representation that will significantly increase Atheist Republic's expenses. Atheist Republic has set up a fundraiser to help cover the cost of the ongoing legal fees. Contributions towards our legal fund are an immeasurable help in fighting against the pressures of the Hindu nationalists that want dissenters silenced and intimidated.
The next hearing before the Delhi High Court will occur on October 28th, 2022. Atheist Republic's legal representation will move for the original petition to be deemed infructuous and dismissed.