Atheist Republic News Summary: Blasphemous Remarks By Hindu Politician C...

  • Blasphemous Remarks By Hindu Politician Cause Diplomatic Troubles for India

Location: India

On June 5th, BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and BJP Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal were suspended from the party's membership due to offensive comments that blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad. On a televised news panel Sharma mocked Buraq (the flying donkey that carried the Prophet Muhammad), the Quran for describing the world as flat, and pointed out that Muhammad's wife Aisha was nine years ago at the time of consummation. Jindal was expelled for a tweet that also insulted the Prophet. The words of these now former BJP members stirred an international backlash from the Muslim world and a diplomatic crisis for India. The State of Qatar called on the Indian government to immediately condemn these remarks and publicly apologize to all Muslims. Superstores in Kuwait removed Indian products from their shelves. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation – the second-largest intergovernmental organization globally after the United Nations, with a 57-nation membership, also added to the condemnation. Over a dozen countries have summoned the Indian diplomatic representation in their nation and admonished them for the comment. It went so far that Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released a letter threatened suicide bombings in Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat to "fight for the honor of the Prophet." Police have booked both Sharma and Jindal for their comments and face charges of "inciting people on divisive lines."

  • "Love Jihad" Conspiracy Theory Disproven by New Government Data

Location: India

A recent study by the Indian national government demystified the narrative of "Love Jihad" peddled by Hindutva figureheads. Part of the so-called "Love Jihad" conspiracy theory involves the idea that the Hindu majority's status in India is threatened due to higher birth rates among Indian Muslims. According to this conspiracy, once Muslims become the dominant demographic in the country, they will turn India into an Islamic nation. However, recent data published by India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare debunks this narrative. According to the recent release of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), which covered 2019 to 2021, the Muslim fertility rate has declined in the last six years. Although the figure published in NFHS indicates that Muslim birth rates in India are higher than the national average, the trend shows that the number is steadily declining. According to Pew Research, in 2021, although the birth rates across different religious groups in India are declining, the number of Muslim children born is falling faster than the number of Hindus. Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi, the former Chief Election Commissioner of India, said in his book, The Population Myth, "It's clear as daylight: the idea that Muslims will become India's biggest community is a total hoax."

  • Anti-Caste Activist's Talk at Google Canceled After Employees Get Doxxed

Location: India

A talk on casteism at Google was canceled due to pressure from employees who claimed their lives were at risk if anti-caste activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan was permitted to speak. Soundararajan is the founder and executive director of Equality Labs, a nonprofit advocating for lower caste individuals. She had previously given similar talks at companies like Microsoft, Salesforce, Airbnb, Netflix, and Adobe employees. The Washington Post reported that mass emails were sent to Google employees through the company intranet, calling Soundararajan "Hindu phobic" and "anti-Hindu." The deplatforming of Soundararajan led Tanuja Gupta, a senior manager at Google News who invited Soundararajan to speak, to resign in protest. Regarding the cancelation, Soundararajan stated, "I cannot find the words to express just how traumatic and discriminatory Google's actions were towards its employees and myself, as the company unlawfully canceled a talk about caste equity." Many employees who organized the original talk or protested the cancellation have faced mass harassment and doxing campaigns (doxing is the practice of exposing identifying information, such as the target's home address, on the internet). Soundararajan reported that she even had to move her family to a safe house because of the gravity of the threats against them.

  • In the Wake of Mass School-Shootings, Politicians Blame Atheism

Location: USA

A day after the terrible and deadly tragedy at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 21 people, several Republican legislators lamented the disaster and attempted to explain the cause of the shooting, attributing it to anything except the accessibility of deadly weapons. Senator Rick Gray blamed godlessness, stating, "We've been teaching our children that there is no God." Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick also blamed a lack of religion, declaring, "We have devalued life in this country; we threw God out of school." Wisconsin's representative, Senator Ron Johnson, blamed "wokeness," when he declared, "We're indoctrinating our children with things like CRT, telling some children they're not equal to others, and they're the cause of other people's problems." He also extended the blame to the "secularization of society and loss of faith." On May 31st, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) released a statement condemning politicians who blamed the Texas school shootings "on atheism, irreligiosity or lack of faith" and also publicized the strongly worded letters that they sent to each of the offending legislators.

  • New Report Exposes Hindu-Nationalist Influence in the United States

Location: USA

Recently, a report published in the South Asia Citizens Web showed a network of Hindutva-related organizations in the United States responsible for informational campaigns and fundraising. The report mapped the "Hindu nationalist ecosystem in the United States" using "data mining of tax records and government filings, public statements, websites, and news reporting." The report said networks of Hindutva organizations that trace their roots to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in India have been fueling its counterpart organization in the U.S. Religious minorities have accused the RSS of fostering intolerance and hate. One example of influence was found in U.S. Department of Justice filings between 2017 and 2020. It showed that the BJP-led government of India actively lobbied for its interest in the U.S. Congress. According to the report, lobbying groups were paid, on average, "between $15,000 to about $58,000 per month." It was also revealed that former representative and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard received "at least $110,000" from Hindutva-affiliated organizations and individuals. The report listed 24 Hindutva organizations in the U.S. with a combined net asset of more than $97 million.

  • Indian MP visiting Australia compares Muslim conquest of India to Holocaust

Location: India

In May 2022, Tejasvi Surya, an MP representing the Hindu-nationalist BJP party of India, attended the Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD). He told an audience in Parramatta that the history of Islam and "a particular community" is "writ large with bloodshed and violence." He also said, "The Islamic chapter in India is the bloodiest chapter in the history of the world." He also asked the audience if they had Jewish friends and spoke of the availability of films portraying the horrors of the Holocaust, but none depicting the Islamic conquest of medieval India. His appearances were met with protests from Australian Muslim groups. Junaid Ahmed, a student at the University of New South Wales and a representative of a coalition of Muslim Student associations, told the Guardian that giving a platform to Surya "normalizes" his views. "Such hate speech promotes Islamophobia and facilitates violent extremism. Discrimination and hate speech should not be accepted at our universities or in our wider Australian societies," Ahmed stated. Nevertheless, the Australia India Youth Dialogue responded to media requests for comment by saying they are a "staunchly apolitical" organization.

  • Occult Club Rejected After Concerns it May "Summon Satan" at University

Location: Australia

On May 25th, an Australian college rejected the full registration of the Adelaide University Occult Club (AUOC), a student organization made by and for students who practice satanism, paganism, and witchcraft. Ashley Towner, AUOC president, told ABC that rejection came from one complaint that claimed that their club wanted to summon Satan to the university and that "occultists are always involved in criminal activity". "Even if we did want to summon Satan, it's not against university or union policy to do so, so it's still not really grounds to reject us,” Towner said. The club was formed in the latter half of 2020 and provisionally registered with the Adelaide University Union (AUU) in early 2021. Registration is vital as it allows for funding and access to space and equipment at the university. The club is now unaffiliated and not allowed on university grounds. AUU president, Oscar Ong, insisted the application had not been rejected but "tabled" for a later decision, which in his words, was "standard procedure." As of now, AUU has six Christian clubs, one Muslim club, and one secular club that are all registered.

  • "Quran Predicted Facebook" Claims Egyptian Islamic Preacher

Location: Egypt

On May 22nd, Dr. Mabrook Atiyah, an Egyptian Muslim preacher, and professor at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, claimed on a Facebook Livestream that both the Internet and Facebook were mentioned in Verse 83 of the Quran. The verse reads, “And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger [the Prophet Muhammad] or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it.”"Isn't this [talking about] the internet, you people who love to broadcast and spread news?" Dr. Atiyah asked. Atiyah was trying to express that people who spread news without verifying it are "sick at heart." Another Islamic studies professor at his university, Amna Nosseir, criticized Atiyah's claims by saying that these remarks were "contrived" and a "deviation" from the meaning of the Quran.

  • Pride for LGBT Saudis: Protesting for LGBT Prisoners

Location: Saudi Arabia

While for many people around the world, LGBT Pride Month is a time for fun parties and celebration, for the Saudi LGBT community, it is a time for protest. The Saudi Diaspora Association, a movement that advocates for freedom, justice, liberty, and equality in Saudi Arabia, is organizing an international event called the Suhail Pride 2022 in Saudi Arabian embassies. The event calls for the immediate release of Suhail Alyahya, imprisoned in Saudi for being gay in a Muslim-majority country. In October 2019, Alyahya was arrested by the Saudi authorities and was sentenced to three years in prison in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for tweeting a picture of himself wearing leopard print swim shorts. He received 800 lashes as punishment. In an interview with the Atheist Republic News Team, Zac Alrayyis, one of the organizers of Suhail Pride 2022, said their goal this time is “focused on a broader civil rights issue, not just one prisoner.” On June 26, 2021, the first Suhail Pride event included vigils in front of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in different countries. This year the Suhail Pride event will be held in Berlin on July 23rd, and you can register here. If you are not able to attend, please sign the petition demanding Suhail’s release here.

  • Armin Navabi Returns to Instagram!

Atheist Republic’s founder, Armin Navabi has finally returned to Instagram! Back in 2020, Armin’s Instagram was hacked and deleted by Hindu extremists who were angered by blasphemy against the Hindu goddess Kali. Now, Armin has made a new account, and you can follow him on Instagram @thearminnavabi. Armin’s Instagram also serves as an important tool for reaching out to atheists in Iran. In Iran, the internet is extremely restricted and slowed down by the regime, making much of social media and the web inaccessible to Iranians. Instagram is one of the few sites that can overcome these internet hurdles. Armin plans to do Instagram live streams often and present programming in Persian so as to reach a younger audience in the country!

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