- Iranian Men Wear Hijabs in Viral Protest
Iranian male pharmacy workers have shown solidarity with their female co-workers by wearing black hijabs in protest of a new order by the Iranian Food and Drug Administration that requires female pharmacy workers to wear black hijabs while at work. The directive also requires pharmacy managers to monitor how their female employees wear the hijab, and anyone wishing to open a new pharmacy must submit a written commitment to authorities promising to follow this new rule. A few weeks ago, two pharmacies in Tehran and Amol were shut down by authorities because their female employees allegedly wore their hijabs incorrectly. But the head of the Mizan news agency, a media outlet connected to the Iranian judiciary, claimed that the pharmacy in Tehran was closed because "its owner disrespected the person who warned her to observe the hijab." Despite the government's harsh response, the male workers' protest serves as a powerful and humorous symbol of resistance against the mandatory hijab law and the regime that enforces it.
- Quran Burner Banned from Entering the United Kingdom
Location: United Kingdom
Rasmus Paludan is a far-right politician in Denmark and Sweden known for his anti-Muslim views and provocative stunts, such as constantly burning copies of the Quran in public. He recently planned to visit Wakefield, a city in the United Kingdom but was met with strong opposition from local politicians and community members. Simon Lightwood, a member of parliament from the Labour Party for Wakefield, spoke out against Paludan's planned visit, saying, "He is a dangerous man that should not be allowed into this country." The government's security minister, Tom Tugendhat, decided to ban Paludan from entering the UK. Tugendhat said in response to MP Lightwood's concerns, "Mr. Paludan has been added to the warnings index, and therefore his travel to the United Kingdom would not be conducive with the public good, and he will not be allowed access." Politicians and community leaders in Denmark, Sweden, and beyond have condemned Paludan's actions widely. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde called Paludan's Quran-burning stunt "a provocation that only aims to sow division" and said that "it does not contribute to the development of our society."
- "Erasing Islamic Faith": Muslim Cleric Flees Saudi Arabia for Safety
Location: Saudi Arabia
A prominent Saudi Arabian religious scholar, Emad Al-Moubayed, who criticized the country's rulers for implementing social reforms, reportedly fled the country after disappearing for days. Al-Moubayed had condemned recent social changes in the country, including lifting the ban on music concerts, claiming they were "erasing the Islamic faith." After he uploaded a video criticizing the government, another video was released, showing Al-Moubayed reading a paper in front of him, seemingly rescinding his criticisms. This fueled speculation that he was forced to do so while in custody. However, a Twitter account linked to him later reported that the cleric left Saudi Arabia and arrived in the United Kingdom. While Saudi Arabia has implemented modernizing social reforms in recent years, political changes have not followed suit. Human rights organizations continue to criticize the kingdom for its crackdown on political dissidents and activists.
- Iran's Double Standards Exposed as Female Russian Officer Spotted without Hijab
A female Russian military officer attending a public event in Iran caused controversy by wearing a short-sleeved military uniform without a hijab, igniting further debate on the country's mandatory hijab rules. The incident comes amid Iran, Russia, and China's strengthened economic and military ties amidst growing tensions and the implementation of stricter laws requiring female pharmacists to wear a black hijab while working. It also came two days after Bijan Nobaveh, a member of the Iranian parliament's Cultural Commission, passed a seven-point proposal on better enforcing the mandatory hijab rules in the country. Iranian netizens criticized the government for double standards and applying strict dress codes to Iranian women while exempting foreign officials and journalists. This is not the first time a Russian female official stirred controversy for not observing Iran's strict dress code. In June last year, Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, accompanied Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Tehran. While Zakharova wore a headscarf and a long coat (manteau) during an official meeting, her legs were not covered.
- The Dark Side of Womb Cleansing: Hindu Nationalists' Radical New Initiative
The Hindu paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has launched a new initiative to instill cultural pride and virtue in children still in their mothers' wombs. Samvardhinee Nyas, a sub-wing under the women's wing of the RSS, organized an event in New Delhi where they urged pregnant women to teach their children cultural pride and the importance of the country from the earliest stages of pregnancy, even as soon as the couple thinks of conceiving. Most of the audience were gynecologists and "ayurvedic doctors." One doctor speaking at the event claimed that garbha sanskar, or virtue in pregnancy, could help prevent autism and other disabilities at birth. Another encouraged women to engage in "womb cleansing," which they claimed could be done by reading Sanskrit and performing "Gita Paath" or reciting verses from the Bhagavad Gita. The event's organizers also claimed that a fetus can learn 500 words while still in the womb, although there is no evidence to suggest this. One of the participants of the event even argued that homosexuality was a result of gender expectations at birth, explaining that if a mother expects to give birth to a girl but gives birth to a boy instead, the child could grow up to be homosexual.
- From Starbucks to Target, Ramadan Goes Mainstream
Location: United States
As the Muslim world observes Ramadan, many US companies are recognizing the importance of expanding their markets to cater to Muslims. Target recently announced its first-ever Ramadan and Eid collection, featuring products designed for Muslims, including an illustrated children's book titled "Moon's Ramadan" by Natasha Khan Kazi. Many other retailers, such as Party City and West Elm, have also released Muslim-friendly products. Liz Bucar, a religious ethicist, noticed an increasing trend of companies marketing Muslim-friendly products in 2017. While some have criticized companies for cultural appropriation, many see this as a positive trend toward the inclusion and recognition of the Muslim community.
- Are Atheists America's Most Hated Group? Shocking Findings From New Survey
Location: United States
The Pew Research Center recently published the results of a survey conducted in September 2022 to determine how Americans view different religious groups in the country. According to the Pew Research Center report, atheists were viewed unfavorably by 24% of Americans surveyed, making them one of the least favorably viewed religious groups in the United States. However, 72% of the surveyed atheists had a favorable view of their own group. Atheists were also more likely to view other religious groups negatively, including Muslims, Mormons, and Evangelical Christians. Democrats were more likely to view atheists and Muslims positively, while Republicans had a more favorable view of Evangelicals and Catholics. The report also revealed that Jews are the only religious group that is more likely to express positive than negative views toward atheists.
- Bible Verse Used to Reject Ban on Physical Punishment for Disabled Students
Location: Oklahoma, United States
Oklahoma’s House of Representatives recently failed to pass a bill that would have prohibited corporal punishment against students with disabilities. Republican state representative John Talley sponsored the bill to bar schools from using physical punishment to discipline students with disabilities; however, such discipline against students with no disabilities would still be allowed. The bill failed to reach the 51 votes needed to pass the bill. Some Republicans who opposed the ban used the Bible to justify their stance. In a video shared on Twitter, Republican state representative Jim Olsen was heard quoting the Bible as he voted to reject the bill. "The rod and reproof give wisdom. But a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame," Olsen said, quoting Proverbs 29:15.
- The Armin Agitators Rise Again!
Hold onto your seats because the Atheist Republic community has produced some hilarious creations that are sure to tickle you! Our founder, Armin Navabi, has been given the title of "Armin Agitator" by a group of dedicated community members focused on getting him to engage in discussion with the infamous "Christianity Hotline Official," comedian Bill Jensen. The excitement is palpable as this grassroots movement, some of them have even called it a "cult," eagerly awaits the day when Armin and Bill will finally have their epic showdown. The group has even created several side-splitting "propaganda" videos documenting their efforts, and the Atheist Republic team recently reacted to them during a live stream. Trust us; you won't want to miss out on the hilarity!
- The Best of Atheist Day 2023
Let's take a moment to reflect on the wonderful success of Atheist Day 2023! Firstly, we received some exciting news that Soheil Arabi, a persecuted Iranian atheist, was released from prison in Iran on bail on March 19th. The Atheist Republic and the international coalition that formed to advocate for his rights had been working tirelessly towards his release, and we are thrilled that he is free! Nonetheless, we acknowledge that Soheil may still face challenges, and we plan to closely monitor the situation to ensure his rights and safety.
Soheil's release is truly a perfect gift for Atheist Day, and we are grateful for this positive outcome. Additionally, the Atheist Republic team reviewed some of their favorite posts from #AtheistDay, which was celebrated worldwide on March 23rd. We are proud of the impact that this day has had in promoting secular values and the importance of critical thinking.
Furthermore, we were pleased to learn that Congressman Jared Huffman of California has posted about Atheist Day on social media, using the hashtag #AtheistDay. This is a significant development, as it marks the first time a government official has publicly acknowledged Atheist Day. This is an exciting development, especially given that there are currently only two openly non-religious members of the United States Congress. It is heartening to see that the voices of the non-religious community are being heard and recognized at the highest levels of government. Make sure to watch the video to see many other amazing posts from our community members!