France Bans Hijab for Muslim Women Under Age 18
On March 30th, the French Senate voted to outlaw the hijab for women under the age of 18 in public places. Also, hijabi mothers would not be allowed to accompany school field trips, and burkinis would be banned at public swimming pools. Before they are enacted into law, the new policies will first need to be confirmed by the National Assembly. France has historically strived to support its ideals of secularism or separation of state and religion, claiming that religious symbols like veils are against European enlightenment and individualist principles. If the laws are confirmed, then the age of consent for sex, which is 15, will be lower than the age of consent for hijab. Sacha Houlie, a French lawyer and National Assembly member, advised that this prohibition would cause some Muslims to withdraw from society further. In May 2020, the nation enforced the wearing of medical face masks on public transportation to reduce the spread of Covid-19. However, those seen wearing niqabs, coverings that cover the same surface, will still be fined.
Millennials having "Allergic Reaction" to US Religious Right
Location: United States
According to a Gallup survey, 47% of the US population are members of some religious institutions. Two decades ago, the percentage was 70%. Experts say that many millennials turn away from religion due to the mixing of right-wing politics and Christianity. Professor of the University of Notre Dame's political science department, David Campbell, stated that this decline is an "allergic reaction to the religious right." His research shows that an increasing number of Americans have moved away from religion as politicians – mainly Republicans – have combined faith with their politics. Campbell says the current decline is likely to continue. Democrats are opting out of organized religion as religion has been closely linked with conservative politics. Co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Annie Laurie Gaylor, said that the Gallup data suggests the US is moving positively. She mentioned that even though the American constitution forbids any religious test for public office, politicians virtually have to wear religion on their sleeve to be elected.
Transgender Malaysian Influencer Arrested for Blasphemy
In January 2021, Nur Sajat, a Malaysian transgender influencer, was arrested and detained. In 2018, she was accused of insulting Islam due to "cross-dressing" during a religious school visit. Although she was released soon after, the case is still ongoing. She could potentially face imprisonment and a fine. She had posted a video in which she expressed her reluctance to continue following Islam, primarily because of the mistreatment of trans people. The video went viral, and comments posted on social media in response include "I want to stone him now" and "His blood is halal." Due to these threats, she was forced to go into hiding. More than 100 officers were deployed to track her down, which critics say was a pointless display of excessive force meant to intimidate the LGBT community. At this point, it is unclear what has transpired in this case.
Indian Woman Beaten To Death For Opposing Holi Celebration
Location: Etawa, Uttar Pradesh
On March 29th, a 60-year-old woman was beaten to death in her house in Mevati Tola locality in Etawar, Uttar Pradesh. At around 10 am that day, a group of men were celebrating Holi outside her house. When she complained about them celebrating in front of the house, the group of men, in an inebriated state, entered her house and beat her to death with sticks and stones. When her family members, two women, and three children, attempted to stop the group, they were also beaten up.
Sudan Gov. and Rebels agree on the separation of religion and state
On March 25th, the Sudanese government and a significant rebel organization signed a document that paves the way for a final peace agreement. The document stated that religious practices and worship should be secured for all Sudanese citizens by separating culture, religion, and ethnicity from the state. The signing is viewed as a crucial step in efforts to end decades of conflicts that left millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead. In 2020, Sudan signed a peace treaty with many groups, but a key faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu, did not join. They stuck to their demand that Sudan needs to abolish sharia law and become a secular, democratic state. After the latest agreement, only one rebel group - a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) - continues to be a safety challenge to Khartoum's government.
The fight to decriminalize extramarital sex in Morroco #Repeal490
On February 22nd, the Moroccan Outlaws, a youth social movement, called on political parties to repeal article 490, which criminalizes sexual relations outside marriage. Based on reports from the public prosecutor's office, almost fifteen thousand people were charged under this article in 2019. The Moroccan Outlaws have been fighting to repeal this article since October 2019. On February 3rd, a pornographic video of a single mother from Tetouan was published on the internet without her knowledge, and she was sentenced to a month in prison. This case pushed the Moroccan Outlaws back into action. Former minister of social development, Nouzha Skalli, spoke in favor of revoking Article 490. Deputy Fatima-Zahra Barassat stated that the state should not have the right to control private relations, but can punish what depicts a threat to civil decency, as already specified in Article 483. Director of the Moroccan Outlaws, Sonia Terrab, stated that this is a chance to reconcile young people with commitment, to push them to pursue politics.
Attacks on Hindu Temples spread in Bangladesh after Modi's visit
March 26th marked the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's nationhood. The country gained its independence from Pakistan in 1971 following a 9-month long war resulting in the death of an estimated 3 million Bengalis. India's prime minister Narendra Modi arrived in Dhaka on the 26th to celebrate independence and gift prime minister Sheikh Hasina 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine shots. Several Hindu temples and a train in eastern Bangladesh were attacked by hundreds of members of a hardline Islamist group as violence spread across the country in the wake of Modi's visit. These groups accused Modi of discriminating against minority Muslims in Hindu-majority India. During demonstrations organized by Islamist groups, at least 11 protesters were killed in clashes with police. Violence has raged on since Modi's departure as anger has increased over the deaths. According to Javed Rahim, a journalist from Brahmanbaria, several government offices, including the land office and a government-sponsored music academy, were set on fire.
Indian Court rules “Freedom of speech not a license to hurt religious feelings”
Location: Allahabad, India
On April 7th, the Allahabad High Court denied the anticipatory bail plea of a Popular Front of India activist, Mohammad Nadeem. The Popular Front of India is a Kerala-based Muslim organization accused of terror activities. Mohammad Nadeem had allegedly made comments against Ram temple's foundation stone laying ceremony in Ayodhya and asked Muslims to come forward to protect Babri Mosque's site. When his bail plea was rejected, the court observed that freedom of speech does not grant a person permission to hurt the religious beliefs of other citizens. The Ram temple is being built at the place wherein 1992, Hindutva extremists destroyed the Babri Mosque. Nadeem's counsel Yusuf Uz Zaman Safwi said that Nadeem's anticipatory bail application was rejected without considering his claims. In November 2019, the Supreme Court declared the Mosque's demolition was illegal but handed over the land to a government-run trust.
Chinese Christians Held in Secretive Brainwashing Camps
According to Radio Free Asia, officials in China are detaining Christians in undercover, mobile "transformation" facilities to make them reject their faith. The Chinese Communist Party exerts tight restrictions over any religious custom among its citizens. The CCP under Xi Jinping views Christianity as a threatening import, with party documents warning against the "infiltration of hostile Western forces" in the form of religion. A member of a Christian "house church" identified by the pseudonym Li Yuese said he was held in a facility for ten months after a raid on his church in 2018. He talked about "brainwashing methods" on those who were on bail from the detention center. When he was released, he was in feeble health with edema all over his body. Another anonymous victim told RFA that similar facilities are being used across China. It is suspected that such facilities have been running for a long time around China.
Satan submitting to rapper Lil Nas X featured in blasphemous art
The Atheist Republic team recently discussed their most recently released blasphemous art; Satan Submits to Lil Nas X. The team discusses how they took inspiration from the musical artist’s recently released music video which sparked a new wave of satanic panic. They also discuss the symbolism behind this art and the various hidden meanings of each feature within the piece.