Atheist Republic News Summary: German State Bans Burqas in Schools

1. German state bans burqas, niqabs in schools
Location: Baden-Württemberg, Germany

2. Indian Politician Advocates for Drinking Cow Urine to Fight Virus
Location: West Bengal, India

3. ISIS Bride allowed to return to the UK to fight to regain citizenship
Location: United Kingdom

4. Iranian aide faces prison sentence for ‘homosexual propaganda’
Location: Iran

5. Sri Lankan Questioned by Police for Posts about Buddha
Location: Sri Lanka

6. Iran halts execution of 3 protesters after online campaign
Location: Iran

7. Hospital refuses to treat transgender man & claims religious exemption
Location: Maryland, USA

8. Brutal “Honor” Killing Shocks Jordan #ScreamsOfAhlam
Location: Jordan

9. China Is Using Uighur Labor to Produce Face Masks
Location: Xinjiang aka East Turkestan

10. Atheist Alliance International Temporarily Suspends Director Over Use of Slur
Location: International

Video Descriptions:

1. The government of the western German state of Baden-Württemberg agreed on Tuesday to ban full-face coverings, often known as burqa or niqab, in schools, matching a ban already in effect for teachers. State Premier Winfried Kretschmann conceded that cases of full-face veiling in schools were rare, but that a legal ruling was necessary for the rare cases. He added that such a ban at the university level, where students are adults, was a more complex question. For now, the rule in Baden-Wurttemberg will only apply to primary and secondary education. Green party leaders have previously referred to the burqa and the niqab "symbols of oppression." Opponents say that such rulings can lead to the marginalization of Muslim communities in Germany.

2. A video has surfaced on social media where West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, while emphasising the importance of home remedies, is seen saying that people need to consume cow urine to stay healthy. “If I speak about cows, many feel uncomfortable. Donkeys will never understand the worth of a cow. This is India, the land of Lord Krishna and here we worship cows. We will have cow urine to stay healthy. Those who consume alcohol, how will you understand the worth of a cow,” Mr. Ghosh is heard saying. In November 2019, Mr. Ghosh said cow’s milk contains gold, a statement that sparked widespread criticism. Leaders of his own party in Bengal described the remarks as “unscientific”. The West Bengal government has registered complaints against members of right wing groups who were distributing “cow urine”.

3. UK judges ruled that 20 year old Shamima Begum, the British teenager who left London with two other girls in 2015 to join ISIS in Syria, should be allowed to return to the UK to challenge the deprivation of her British citizenship. The court of appeal partially overturned an earlier ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), which held that she had not been illegally rendered stateless while she was in Syria because she was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship. But it is not clear how Begum would return from Syria, and the court of appeal acknowledged she “could be arrested and charged” upon her arrival in the UK and held in custody to await trial. The news of her potential return to the UK and regain her citizenship has been the cause of great controversy.

4. An indictment had been issued for Shahindokht Molaverdi, the former aide for women’s and family affairs in Iran, after she shared a UN poster to mark the International Day of Families which featured a simple illustration depicting several families, including two same-sex couples with children. She was charged with “propaganda against the regime”, “encouraging corruption and prostitution” and “providing classified information and documents to disrupt national security.” Under Article 639 of the Islamic Penal Code, anyone who encourages or incites people to moral corruption or depravity is sentenced to one to ten years in prison.

5. Rathnayaka, an online activist and convener of the Irreligious Community of Sri Lanka, was recently summoned by the Organised Crimes Prevention Police Division. A Buddhist monk had filed a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department claiming that Rathnayaka had propagated fictitious ideas about Buddhism and Buddha. According to Rathnayaka, the monk based these accusations on Rathnayaka’s Facebook posts – stating that Buddhism originated from Jainism. The Buddhist monk claims that Rathnayaka should be arrested and face charges for malicious intention to outrage religious feelings and inciting hostility, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

6. Iran has halted the executions of three men, Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajab,i and Saeed Tamjidi, who were sentenced to death over anti-government protests last year, according to one of their lawyers. The lawyer told reporters that a request for a retrial had been accepted by the supreme court. The three men were sentenced to death earlier this year, but it was the supreme court's decision to uphold the sentence earlier this week that unleashed public anger, with the Persian hashtag #do_not_execute used seven million times online. The three men were among thousands of protesters across Iran who took to the streets in November against the government's decision to raise the price of petrol. More than 300 protesters were killed and thousands others were arbitrarily detained during the authorities' crackdown against November's unrest.

7. The University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland is being sued after refusing to treat a transgender man. Jesse Hammons is suing for violation of his First and Fourth Amendment constitutional rights and his rights under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in federal court. Hammon’s physicians recommended a hysterectomy to treat his gender dysphoria, but the hospital refused to perform the procedure. He says an administrator cited the directive and told him that gender dysphoria did not qualify as a medical issue that they were required to treat. Catholic health care organizations are not allowed to participate in “actions that are intrinsically immoral, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and direct sterilization,” according to the lawsuit.

8. The brutal murder of a 30-year-old woman by her father in a so-called "honour killing" has put the issue of violence against women in Jordan under the spotlight, reigniting public fury and calls for action. The murder of the woman, identified as Ahlam, took place two weeks ago, but it was only when an audio recording of her screaming and images of her lifeless body in the street went viral on social media that her father was arrested. Ahlam's neighbours say they heard screams at 9pm on the day of her death and saw her running into the street with her neck bleeding, pleading with people for help because her family wanted to kill her. No one intervened as her father came running behind her with a brick and bludgeoned her to death, before sitting down, lighting a cigarette and drinking a cup of tea.

9. The New York Times has revealed that a number of Chinese companies are using forced Uyghur labor to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), through a government-sponsored program that experts say often puts people to work against their will. The program sends ethnic minorities in China into factory and service jobs, and is widely publicized in state media as a form of poverty reduction. Quotas on the numbers of workers put into the labor program and the penalties faced by those who refuse to cooperate, means that participation is effectively involuntary. One factory in Hubei province included 100 Uyghur workers sent to Xinjiang who were required to learn Mandrin and pledge their loyalty to China in weekly flag-raising ceremonies.

10. On July 11, 2020, Michael Sherlock, the Executive Director of Atheist Alliance International (AAI), posted a tweet saying the following: “Religion is a retarded relic that really needs archiving in humanity’s library of bad ideas. #Atheist”. AAI is one of the largest international atheist organizations in the world and the only atheist organization with “Special Consultative status” at the United Nations. When a critic replied “Perhaps you could consider retiring the word retarded,” Sherlock replied “Na. It works.” and “I am an asshole. I help people escape death but the words I use define me. This objection to me is privilege manifest. People with real problems don’t worry about me using the word ‘retard’. What a cunt.” The twitter exchange continued. On July 16th it was announced on twitter by AAI that they had suspended Sherlock without pay for 1 month, and he faces further disciplinary action. Affiliate atheist organizations and advisory board members of AAI have broken ties with the organization over the incident. Sherlock made a public apology for calling the critic a cunt.

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