Atheist Republic News Summary: Sudan Scraps Death Penalty for Apostasy

1. Sudan Scraps Death Penalty for Apostasy!
Location: Sudan

2. Thailand could become 2nd Asian Country To Legalize Same-Sex Unions
Location: Thailand

3. Nigerian Preacher Sues Atheist for $52 Million
Location: Nigeria

4. US Supreme Court rules job discrimination laws don’t protect teachers at religious schools
Location: Los Angeles, California

5. US sanctions Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims
Location: United States & Xinjiang, China

6. Sentenced to 6 months in prison for reposting Quran joke in Tunisia
Location: Tunisia

7. American entertainer spreads antisemitic conspiracy theories online
Location: United States of America

8. Arrested for offending Buddhists
Location: Sri Lanka

9. Indian godman called alcohol 'coronavirus medicine', forced children to drink before sodomising them
Location: Uttar Pradesh, India

10. Turkey reconverts Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque
Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Video Descriptions:

1. After more than 30 years of Islamist rule, Sudan has outlined wide-reaching reforms including ending the apostasy law, allowing non-Muslims to drink alcohol, and scrapping public floggings. Until now, anyone convicted of renouncing Islam, or apostasy, could face the death penalty. Under the new laws, women no longer need permission from a male relative to travel with their children. Sudan also recently ratified a law criminalizing the practice of female genital mutilation. Congratulations to the people of Sudan!

2. Thailand could be the first Southeast Asian country to permit same-sex unions—while not explicitly condoning LGBTQ marriage—as a Cabinet-approved bill heads to parliament for legalization. Though the bill doesn’t endorse same-sex marriage, it allows same-sex couples to adopt children and merge finances, including inheritances. “This is an important step for Thailand in creating equality for everyone and guaranteeing rights for same-sex couples to start a family,” Rachada Dhnadirek, a spokesperson for the Thai government told Bloomberg.

3. So-called “Witch Hunter” Helen Ukpabio is suing humanist activist Leo Igwe again. Ukpabio’s lawyer sent a letter to Leo Igwe alleging defamation based on an article critical of her methods that Igwe denies writing. Ukpabio is infamous for claiming that babies can be possessed by devils, and promoting abuse and persecution of those accused of witchcraft. Igwe was previously sued by her after her congregation of 150 people physically attacked him at a conference he organized in 2009 to stop child abuse resulting from witchcraft allegations. Now she is demanding a retraction of this article, which she claims is defamation, an apology, and a payment that equates to roughly $52 million USD.

4. The Supreme Court on restricted teachers who work at church-run schools from filing discrimination claims against their employers, ruling that the Constitution’s protection for religious liberty exempts church schools from state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The justices, by a 7-2 vote, ruled that because two elementary school teachers at Catholic schools in Los Angeles County helped carry out the mission of teaching faith as part of their jobs, the schools are free to hire and fire them without concern for anti-discrimination laws. “The 1st Amendment protects the right of religious institutions to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority.

5. The Trump administration announced sanctions aimed at Chinese Communist Party officials whom the United States believes have been involved in carrying out human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China. The U.S. said the Chinese government officials were being designated “for their connection to serious human rights abuse against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, which reportedly include mass arbitrary detention and severe physical abuse, among other serious abuses targeting Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim population indigenous to Xinjiang, and other ethnic minorities in the region.” Since 2017, as many as 2 million Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities have been moved into reeducation and detention camps, often referred to as concentration camps, in the western Xinjiang province of China.

6. In May, Emna Chargui posted a parody of the Quran, titled “Surah Corona,” a silly passage about the COVID-19 pandemic in the style of the Quran. A Tunisian court has sentenced the blogger to six months in prison and a $700 fine for reposting the joke on Facebook. A court spokesman said the sentence was on charges of inciting hate between religions and races. Saying she was a victim of a "repressive law" that curtailed free speech, Amnesty International said the prosecution did not allow Chargui's lawyer to accompany her to court, where she was asked about her religious beliefs and mental condition. Emna plans to appeal the decision.

7. Over the last week, a video of TV host, rapper, and actor Nick Cannon spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and praising virulent antisemite Louis Farrakhan resurfaced. On his podcast “Cannon’s Classes” he spoke with Professor Griff, a rapper from the famed group Public Enemy, who was recently ousted from the rap group due to his anti-semitism. In the podcast, Griff said that the semitic people and the semitic languages “have absolutely nothing to do with any white people.” Cannon claimed that when people understand who the real Jewish people are, “it’s never hate speech, you can’t be antisemitic when we are the semitic people. When we are the same people who they want to be. That’s our birthright.” He later added that “we are the true Hebrews.” Griff and Cannon agreed that the term “antisemitic” is used to divide people and “neutralize” criticism.

8. Award-winning Sri Lankan writer, Shakthika Sathkumara, stands accused of having hurt the religious feelings of Buddhists and advocated hatred in connection with a short story that he had published on his Facebook page. The short story, ‘Ardha’ (‘Half’) angered Buddhist groups in Sri Lanka, who allege that the story is derogatory and defamatory to Buddhism owing to its indirect references to homosexuality within the Buddhist clergy and also due to a different rendering, told by the characters of the short story, of the legendary story of “Siddhartha” in Buddhist literature. In April of 2019, he was arrested and held in detention for 127 days. In September he has to go to court, where he is still facing charges of malicious intention to outrage religious feelings and inciting hostility, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

9. A godman was arrested for allegedly sexually harassing 10 boys who were lodged at his ashram. The accused godman used to force the boys to drink alcohol by referring to it as "coronavirus medicine". The accused allegedly used to force the children to watch pornographic videos before sodomising them. A 10-year-old boy rescued from the ashram told the Child Welfare Committee said, "Maharaj would make us drink coronavirus medicine. Then he'd get naked and lie down, show us dirty films and do bad things to us." The 13-year-old boy said, "He would sodomise me. "He said that the accused used to thrash them if they refused to follow the instructions given to them. The cook and owner of the ashram have also been arrested.

10. Turkey's president Erdogan has declared Istanbul's Hagia Sophia open to Muslim worship after a top court ruled that the building's conversion to a museum by modern Turkey's founding statesman was illegal. Erdogan made the announcement despite international warnings not to change the status of the nearly 1,500-year-old monument, revered by Christians and Muslims alike. The Council of State, which was debating a case brought by a Turkish religious organisation, cancelled a 1934 cabinet decision that defined the sixth-century building as a museum. The organisation which brought the court case, the latest in a 16-year legal battle, said the Hagia Sophia was the property of the Ottoman leader who captured the city in 1453 and turned the already 900-year-old Byzantine church into a mosque. The United States, Russia and Greece, along with UNESCO, had expressed concerns ahead of the ruling.

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