Atheist Republic News Summary: Islamists Behead More Than 50 in Mozambique

1. Militant Islamists 'behead more than 50' in Mozambique
Location: Mozambique

2. Child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church ‘swept under the carpet’
Location: United Kingdom

3. Parents plead to uphold Quebec’s religious symbol ban on hijab
Location: Quebec, Canada

4. UAE reforms Islamic laws & broadens personal freedoms
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

5. Iranian Paralympic bodybuilder could face execution for criticizing COVID rules
Location: Mashhad, Iran

6. Dutch teacher forced into hiding over ‘blasphemous’ Islamic cartoon
Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

7. Indian Lesbians Living Together Forcibly Separated, One Publicly Assaulted
Location:  Uttar Pradesh, India

8. Attack on French Consulate Ceremony in Saudi Arabia Wounds at Least 3 Wounded
Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

9. N.Y.P.D. Will No Longer Force Women to Remove Hijab for Mug Shots
Location: New York City, United States of America

10. Gay conversion “therapies” to be outlawed in Victoria, Australia
Location: Victoria, Australia

Video descriptions:

1. Over 50 people were recently beheaded in Muatide village in northern Mozambique by militant Islamists. The militants turned a football field in the village into an "execution ground," where they decapitated and chopped bodies, other reports said. The militants are associated with the Islamic State (IS), giving the terrorist group a foothold in southern Africa. The group has a pattern of exploiting poverty and unemployment to recruit youth in their fight to establish Islamic rule in the area. The latest attack was likely the worst carried out by the militants. Mozambique's government has appealed for international aid to curb the insurgency, saying its troops need specialized training.

2. The United Kingdom's Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has released its final report on the Catholic Church, condemning the Vatican's failure to cooperate with the investigation as "passing understanding". The over 150-page report stated that "the church's neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation conflicted with its mission of love and care for the innocent and vulnerable." From 1970 to 2015, the Catholic Church in England and Wales received over 900 complaints involving well over 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse, made against more than 900 persons, including priests, monks and volunteers. The church invariably failed to support victims when survivors brought their complaints to church authorities and consistently protected the alleged perpetrators by moving them to a different parish.

3. Several parents recently pleaded with a Quebec Superior Court judge to uphold the province's religious symbols ban to shield their children from exposure to the hijab, which they believe conveys a "pernicious" sexist message. The witnesses testifying in support of the law, known as Bill 21, said they believed the hijab always represents sexist values, regardless of why someone decides to wear it. The parents, all immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, are the first witnesses to be called by defenders of the Laicity Act in a court case brought by opponents of the law who say it is unconstitutional. Among the most controversial provisions in Bill 21 is a prohibition on public teachers from wearing religious symbols at work.

4. Recently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a significant overhaul of the nation's Islamic personal laws. The reforms now allow unmarried couples to cohabitate, loosen alcohol restrictions and criminalize so-called "honour killings." The expansion of personal freedoms reflects the changing profile of a country that has sought to market itself as a Westernized destination for tourists despite its Islamic legal code. The changes include scrapping penalties for alcohol consumption, sales and possession for those 21 and over. Attempted suicide will also be decriminalized. To better "protect women's rights," the government said it would get rid of laws defending "honour crimes." The punishment for a crime committed with the intention of avenging a family's honour for a woman's promiscuity or disobeying religious and cultural customs will now be the same for any other kind of assault. The move follows a historic U.S.-brokered deal to normalize relations between the UAE and Israel.

5. Iran's Paralympics world champion, Reza Tabrizi, has been arrested and could face the death penalty after he questioned why gyms had been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic while religious shrines are allowed to remain open. Tabrizi was a bodybuilding silver medalist in the 2011 New Zealand Paralympics. He had claimed it was "hypocritical" to close down sports facilities in Mashad's holy city but still allow pilgrims into the Imam Reza Shrine. Religious hardliners burst into Mr. Tabrizi's gym and arrested him within hours of his Instagram post, accusing him of insulting religious believers and being a "stooge" of French President Emmanuel Macron. "This guy had posted a threatening insult on his Instagram account and thought that in the country ruled by our religious beliefs, he could do any damn thing that he wants. Thanks be to God he is now behind bars", wrote Iranian cleric Morteza Mustafazadeh on Instagram. Tabrizi has since issued an apology for his statement.

6. Police in the Netherlands are investigating threats made against a teacher who had hung a cartoon commenting on the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in his classroom. The drawing had hung in the classroom for some five years, but it was not until the school held a memorial for murdered French teacher Samuel Paty that it became a contentious issue. Recently, a group of girls demanded the teacher remove the picture from the board because they said it was blasphemous. The teacher explained that the cartoon was not of Mohammed but of a jihadi. The Dutch newspaper NRC reports that more teachers at the school, Emmauscollege, fear for their safety, and according to their sources, the teacher in question has gone into hiding.

7. Recently, two same-sex partners living together were allegedly separated and subjected to harassment in the Baghpat area of Uttar Pradesh. The family of one of the women burst into the home the couple was sharing, and forcibly took her away. The two adult lesbians were harassed, and one of them was physically assaulted in the village as she resisted the intrusion. The incident, which demonstrates the intolerance of society towards homosexuality, was filmed and circulated on social media. The woman stated, "We had also given a written complaint to the police to provide us with protection. But before they could, [my partner's] relatives came here and thrashed me publicly and even tore my clothes. And they took her away."

8. An explosion in a non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, wounded at least three people on Nov. 11th, in an attack on a ceremony organized by the French consulate to commemorate the end of World War I. An improvised explosive device (IED) struck the ceremony. Those in attendance included representatives from France, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. It was not immediately clear how many people the explosion injured, and the authorities have not yet released information on possible motives or suspects. The attack comes in light of heightened tensions between France and numerous Muslim countries after President Macron defended the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's right to republish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

9. Two years ago, two Muslim women began a lawsuit against the New York Police Department (NYPD), claiming they had suffered the same humiliating ordeal. After arrest, while their photographs were being taken, the women were ordered to remove their hijabs, which left them feeling ashamed and exposed. But last week, to settle the lawsuit, the NYPD agreed to amend its policy to now allow religious people to keep their head coverings on while being photographed, so long as their faces were clearly visible. The settlement agreement would apply to hijabs as well as other religious headwear, like skullcaps and wigs worn by Orthodox Jews and turbans worn by Sikhs.

10. The Victorian Government is consulting survivors of gay conversion 'therapies' as it prepares to create legislation to outlaw the harmful practice. Conversion 'therapy' is a fraudulent treatment based on the false belief that a person's gender or sexual identity can be changed or suppressed via methods ranging from electro-convulsive therapy to spiritual intervention. Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the Government had so far consulted with hundreds of key stakeholders, including survivors and LGBTIQ advocacy and religious organizations, to determine the best way to implement the ban. "We're banning so-called conversion 'therapy' and making sure the laws we put in place end this harmful, cruel, and bigoted practice once and for all," Ms. Hennessy said.

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