- Islamic Charity Shut Down by UK Government for Promoting Violence
On May 23rd, the Charity Commission for England and Wales ordered Islamic Research Foundation International (IRFI) to shut down after finding that IRFI had funded TV programming that promoted violence. The National Secular Society (NSS) has expressed its concerns about IRFI since 2018 in an open letter to the charity commission. PeaceTV, a television program involved with the IRFI, was reprimanded in 2012 by the Broadcasting regulator Ofcom after it aired world famous Islamic preacher Dr. Zakir Naik saying that he "tended to agree" that Muslims should be executed if they leave Islam and tried to proselytize a different religion "against Islam." In 2020, Naik's Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu were fined £300,000 for "broadcasting hate speech and incitement to commit murder." According to the NSS, they also had a long line of very controversial speakers like Bilal Philips, who the US government named a co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. According to the Charity Commission, the IRFI's remaining funds of £57,950 have been transferred to three charities with "similar objectives."
- Indian Man Killed on "Suspicion of Being Muslim"
On May 19th, police in Neemuch, western Madhya Pradesh, retrieved an unidentified dead body stored in a freezer. The body was eventually identified as the mentally disabled 65-year-old Bhanwarlal Jain. Jain's family had filed a missing person report to the Chittorgarh police on May 17th. According to Bhanwarlal's brother Rakesh, Bhanwarlal was not "stable enough to marry, but he could go about his daily routine." It is believed that he got lost and disoriented while leaving a religious event, and ended up in the wrong village in his attempt to return home. Initially, the cause of Jain's death was unknown, but a video of a man beating Jain helped identify the possible reason for Jain's death. In the video, Dinesh Kushwah, a former party worker of the ruling Hindu-nationalist BJP party, can be seen roughing up Jain while asking him if he is a Muslim. "Is your name Mohammed?" Kushwah can be heard asking as he proceeded to slap Jain multiple times while demanding his government-issued identification card. On May 21st, Dinesh Kushwah was arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Police. Rajneesh Agrawal, the state secretary for the BJP, called Jain's death an unfortunate incident and dismissed Kushwah's connection to the BJP.
- Taliban Orders Female Newscasters to Cover their Faces
On May 22nd, the Taliban reinstated an old law that requires female news anchors to cover their faces. Proof of this new law was seen on-air as female news anchors were seen with masks that allowed only their eyes to be seen across all popular news channels in the country. TOLO news anchor, Farida Sial, told the BBC, "it's very difficult for a presenter to cover their face for two or three hours consecutively and talk like that." Many male anchors took a stand in solidarity with their female colleagues by also wearing masks in their news reports and using thehashtag #FreeHerFace. An Afghan women's rights activist, Mina Sharif, tweeted, "Afghan men showing up for Afghan women is not just a gesture. It's a turn in the story that will change everything. Bravo, brothers."
- Shocking Report of Sexual Abuse in Southern Baptist Church Rocks Nation
Location: United States
Recently, an independent investigation report revealed that several top clergy members of the Southern Baptists Convention (SBC) were found to have minimized, ignored, and even vilified sex abuse survivors who came forward for help. This bombshell report has significant implications as the SBC is the largest denomination of Protestants in the United States. The seven-month investigation report states the abuse survivors' emails and phone calls were "only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility" by church leaders. Further evidence emerged from this investigation that detailed specific abuse cases and shed light on how denominational leaders actively resisted calls for abuse prevention for decades. The nearly 300-page report shows that SBC members were informed that compiling a database of offenders goes against the denomination's policies. However, the SBC leaders secretly kept a sex offenders list, which dated back to the 1960s, while keeping it classified to avoid possible litigation. After being exposed in public, SBC administrative leaders said they would make the secret list public, revealing hundreds of church personnel and pastors accused as sex offenders. Many survivors, who have been working for decades to hold the institution accountable, feel that this report is just "the tip of the iceberg."
- Indian Muslim Youth Group Pushes for Law Preventing "Islamophobia"
In Kerala, India, a statewide Youth Caravan by Solidarity Youth Movement Kerala seeks legislation to prevent Islamophobia by demanding legal protection for Muslims from hate crimes. According to Jamaat-e-Islami national secretary Malik Motasim Khan, “Islamophobic campaigns are barring Muslims from economic rights, political rights, and democratic rights.” In recent years, anti-Muslim sentiments have been growing in India. A genocide expert predicted that genocide against Muslims is becoming increasingly likely. Many members of the Indian Muslim community feel the brunt of overt economic boycotts of their businesses based on their religious identity. Muslim shopkeepers and businessmen have increasingly become the subject of attacks by Hindu far-right groups since Prime Minister Modi came to power in 2014.
- Harassment of French Teen for Her Anti-Islam Video Leads to 6 Convictions
On May 24th, six people were convicted for harassment due to their threats directed towards a Frech teenage named Mila because of videos she made speaking against Islam. The sentencing ranges from three to four-month suspended prison terms and house arrest. The ages of the convicted ranged from 19 to 39. They were each ordered to pay 3,000 euros (3,200 USD) in damages to Mila. The attacks started in 2020 after Mila did a live broadcast on her Instagram speaking about her sexuality. During this stream, she was insulted by a Muslim commenter using homophobic slurs and invoked Allah to condemn her. Mila replied by stating that she hated religion and that the Qur’an was full of hate. The threats were so prevalent that she needed to accept protection from police and change schools. In 2021, law enforcement arrested five people for making death threats to Mila. 13 more were accused, with 11 of them being convicted in the same year.
- Indian Martyr Declared Saint by Vatican For Anti-Caste Activism
On May 16th, Pope Francis declared Devasahayam a saint, thus making him the first Indian layman to be canonized. Devasahayam, also known as Lazarus, was born into an upper-caste Hindu family in 1712 in the south Indian town of Kanyakumari. Born with the name Nilakandan Pillai, he served as a treasurer in the royal palace of King Marathanda Varma when he met a Dutch Naval commander who introduced him to Catholicism. The officer shared the story of Job from the Old Testament, which touched Pillai on a personal level as he, much like Job, was struggling at the time with a string of family tragedies. The story moved him to convert to Christianity, drop his caste name Pillai, and take on the name Devasahayam which in Tamil translates to “God has helped.” He fought against caste discrimination and advocated for social equality. His conversion was seen as treason against the kingdom, which led to his imprisonment in 1749. He spent the remainder of his life there, where he was ultimately shot and killed in 1752. Devasahayam was chosen for sainthood by the Vatican after a woman claimed her unborn child, who had been declared “medically dead,” started moving again after praying to him in 2013.
- Muslim Politician Eats Spit of "Untouchable" Priest In Message of Unity
To spread a message of brotherhood, Zameer Ahmed Khan, a Muslim politician and Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Karnataka, fed food to a Dalit (the out-caste group previously known as "Untouchables") priest and then asked the priest to spit it out, which he then ate. The video of the gesture has now gone viral. This incident occurredat an event to mark Ambedkar Jayanti, a celebration of anti-caste activist, critic of Hinduism, and writer of the Indian constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.A big round of applause followed as Khan consumed the spit of the "Untouchable" priest. Indian social media gave mixed reactions to this gesture that challenged numerous social taboos; some thought it was "over the top," while others appreciated the action but found it a bit gross.
- The Ex-Muslim Threatened with Death and How He Found Out from the FBI
Recently, Armin Navabi, founder, and Susanna McIntyre, CEO of Atheist Republic, spoke to Azad Khosravi Farsani, U.S.-based Iranian ex-Muslim scholar and vocal critic of the Iranian regime. Farsani was recently contacted by the U.S.’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), warning him of credible threats to his life. Farsani confirmed that the FBI reached out to him during an interview by Iran International, a London-based Persian television network. Before he left Iran in exile, Farsani criticized Iran under the pseudonym Azad Azadeh on his blog called Noble Whispers. His online book of the same title focused on dissecting the immorality of the Islamic regime and its leaders. Farsani made efforts to remain anonymous. However, he was tracked by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He was forced to confess the charges of acting against national security by publishing lies, causing public unease, and insulting the Supreme Leader. You can watch the full interview with Azad Farsani on the Secular Jihadists podcast here.