- Supreme Court Leak: Religious Leaders React to Possible End of Roe v. Wade
On May 2nd, Politico published a leaked draft opinion from Associate Justice Samuel Alito that revealed how the U.S. Supreme Court plans to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that granted federal protection to abortion rights in 1973. Politico claimed that the draft, titled Opinion of the Court, written in February 2021, had circulated inside the Supreme Court before obtaining a copy. The Supreme Court verified the authenticity of the leaked documents and stated that the document "did not represent the court's final view." Demonstrators from different both pro-choice and pro-life camps flooded the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court a day after the leak was published. This decision, if enacted by the Supreme Court, will dispel the federal protections on abortion and allow each state to create their own policies on abortion. According to polls, an overwhelming majority of Americans support Roe v Wade, including a majority of religious people, even Catholics. Meanwhile, Greg Laurie, the pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, and Franklin Graham, head of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, called the leaked draft an "answered prayer."
- Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Faced with Blasphemy Charges
On May 1st, Pakistan’s recently ousted prime minister, Imran Khan, was booked with blasphemy charges along with 150 others, including Khan’s top political allies. In early April, Khan was removed from office after the parliament gave Khan a decisive vote on a no-confidence motion, sparking mass protests from his supporters. The blasphemy charges were filed by Muhammad Naeem, a citizen of the city of Faisalabad. The complaint filed by Naeem is linked to a group of Pakistani pilgrims in Medina who protested the new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif’s, arrival in Saudi Arabia. During this protest in the holy city, Prime Minister Sharif was called a “thief” and a “traitor,” and other “explicit language” was used. Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), stand accused of purposefully organizing this protest in the sacred city of Medina, and that the “hooliganism” that followed offended the sentiments of Muslims, and even worse, desecrated the Masjid-i-Nabwi, a mosque supposedly built by the Prophet Muhammad. Rana Sanaullah, the current Interior Minister, said the blasphemy charges are justified. Marriyum Aurangzeb, the new Information Minister, accused Khan of using the mosque for his political agenda. Khan dismissed the allegations and claimed that he could not imagine asking anyone to disrespect a sacred place, stating, “I cannot think of asking anyone to do sloganeering at that sacred place.” He explained that “nobody who loves the Prophet could even think of it.” In Pakistan, blasphemy is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, life imprisonment, or even the death penalty.
- Indian Ex-Muslim Nearly Killed by Brother After Denouncing Islam
On May 1st, police from Kerala, India, filed a police report for the attempted murder of 24-year-old Ex-Muslim, Askar Ali, who was attacked by a group of men that included his brother. Askar had long been a student of Islam and had completed a 12-year advanced Islamic religious study program. Upon completion of his studies, he decided to leave Islam, a decision that his family did not support. He was an invited speaker at a conference held by Essense Global, an organization promoting "scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform in society." According to Ali's statement to the police, a group of men tried to prevent him from speaking at the conference. The men physically assaulted him, destroyed his phone and attempted to kidnap him. He was rescued by the police when the locals raised the alarm about the attack. Askar completed his speech at the conference under the protection of the local police. A recording of the speech, which details his “path to humanism” and his criticism of Islam as “the real fascism,” has already gained mass attention in India, accruing nearly a million views in less than a week.
- Far-Right Dutch Politician Suspended from Twitter for Tweet Attacking Islam
On April 19th, Geert Wilders, a known anti-immigration Dutch politician, lost access to his Twitter account. His account was apparently suspended for violating Twitter's rules against hateful conduct. He was reportedly suspended for a tweet that was in response to Shehbaz Sharif, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, in which he denouced the "violence of the intolerant ideology called Islam." However, EuroNews reported that the suspension was a mistake. On April 18th, Twitter clarified that they temporarily restricted Wilders’ account. A spokesperson for Twitter explained that they “took enforcement action against the account in error,” and have restored access to Wilders’ account, although his tweet against Islam was deleted nonetheless. Wilders and his party have been open about their anti-Islam and anti-immigration agendas. His extreme political views and agendas earned him the name “Dutch Donald Trump.” In 2015, he stated that Islam is not suitable for European values.
- Indian University Professor Fired for "Insulting" Hindu God
On April 23rd, Gursang Preet Kaur, a university professor at Lovely Professional University in Punjab, India, was fired over an alleged offensive comment regarding the Hindu god Rama. According to the outraged, Kaur put the deity in a bad light by referring to Rama as a “cunning person.” A video recorded during a presentation showed Kaur making the comment, “Actually, Rama is not a good person by heart.” According to legend, Rama is an incarnation of the god Vishnu. In the mythology, one day his wife, Sita, was kidnapped by the demon king Ravana. After Rama saved her from Ravana, Sita had to prove her “purity” by subjecting herself to a trial by fire. Rama is seen as a revered deity associated with righteousness and chivalry by most Hindus. Kaur’s lecture challenged the heroic lens through which Rama is usually seen and questioned if he is as righteous as people claim. She flipped the traditional narrative on it’s head when stating, “How can I decide who is good and evil, and the whole world is worshipping Ram and saying that Ravana is a bad person?” She accused Rama of planning to trap Sita and “put all the blame on Ravana.” The university quickly distanced itself from Kaur’s comment. Their statement said, “We wish to clarify that the views shared by her (Kaur) are absolutely personal, and the university does not endorse any of them,” adding, “We have always been a secular university, where people from all religions and faith are treated equally with love and respect.”
- 7 Arrested For Throwing Pork & Pages Of Quran At Mosques in India
Location: UP, India
On April 21st, seven individuals were arrested in Uttar Pradesh for the desecration of several mosques. Local police explained that the suspects wanted revenge for the violent clashes that took place in Delhi during the Hanuman Jayanti parades and Ram Navami festivals, in early April. The arrested individuals threw torn pages of the Quran and pig meat at mosques in Ghosiyana and Kashmiri Mohalla. They also desecrated Gulab Shah Baba, a local mazar (shrine). The Wire reported that the arrested individuals are members of a local Hindutva group called the "Hindu Yodha Sangathan." The group’s mastermind, Mahesh Kumar Mishra, has a long criminal history. An administrator of the shrine told The Wire that they also found posters that said, “If you pelt stones, we will bomb you,” and “We have damaged your Quran, if you are born to one mother, come out on the streets and fight.” "During questioning of those arrested, it came to light that they wanted to ruin this city's amicable atmosphere and peaceful tradition," the local Senior Superintendent of police said.
- Supreme Court Declares Boston City Hall Must Fly Christian Flag
On May 2nd, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that the city of Boston had violated the first amendment rights of a Christian Nationalist group when they rejected its request to fly a Christian flag at the city hall building. The issue started when they denied the group’s, known as Camp Constitution, request to fly a Christian Flag after approving the applications of 284 other groups which included mostly the flags of foreign nations and a Pride flag. Mat Staver, an attorney at Liberty Counsel representing Camp Constitution, said, “the government cannot censor religious viewpoints under the guise of government speech.” Boston stopped its flag-raising program in October last year to prevent the city from proclaiming “messages antithetical to its own.” City officials stated that they felt approving Camp Constitution’s request would violate the First Amendment’s ban on government endorsement of a particular religion. Rachel Laser, President and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), expressed that the decision could “undermine church-state separation.” Laser also pointed out the “alarming aspects'' of Camp Constitution, which teaches historical inaccuracies, such as, “America was founded as a Christian nation.” In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the Satanic Temple announced their plans to apply to the City of Boston to fly a satanic flag at the government offices.
- Report: Facebook & Twitter Overwhelmingly Fails to Remove Anti-Muslim Posts
On April 28th, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a non-profit organization headquartered in London, UK, published a report showing that social media giants Facebook, Twitter, Instagram failed to respond to almost 90% of “Islamophobic” content. In its recent release, CCDH criticized Twitter, Google, and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for their failure to implement their policies against online hate. The report claimed that the social media companies' failure to take action online produces a "significant threat of offline harm." Kemi Badenoch, the Minister for Communities and Equalities in the UK, supported CCDH's report, emphasizing the "unacceptable abuse many Muslims receive online every day." The contents examined by CCDH included offensive opinions, caricatures, false claims, threats, and conspiracy theories. Report shows that Twitter failed to take action against 97% of the reported content, while Youtube did not censor 23 videos on its platform that had anti-Muslim content.
- American Hindus "Break Silence" & Condemn Anti-Muslim Hate
On April 22nd, a group of Hindu human rights advocates, religious leaders, and other cause-oriented groups released a statement condemning the worsening religious violence in India. The statement, which denounced the weaponized Hindutva ideology, was initially released by Hindus for Human Rights (HHR), a US-based group that advocates for pluralism and civil and human rights in South Asia and North America. "We are dismayed to see Hindu leaders in India and abroad openly embracing Hindutva—a century-old political ideology that sees citizens of other faiths as inherently foreign and not qualified to enjoy the full benefits of Indian citizenship," the statement said. The statement also calls for Hindus to break their "collective silence and speak out against this hate that violates the deepest teachings of our tradition." The statement was released amidst the increasingly worsening religious freedom situation in India. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom's (USCIRF) 2022 report labeled India as a "country of particular concern" (CPC) for the third time. HHR's statement urged religious leaders and other rights groups to sign the pledge to speak out against anti-Muslim bigotry.
- Atheist Republic Approved for Facebook Donations!
Exciting news, Atheist Republic has been approved for Facebook Donations! The Atheist Republic Team has been working hard on ensuring the financial viability of the organization, adn this includes maximizing the ways in which people can contribute to our work. Now, when you go to Atheist Republic’s Facebook page, you will see a “Donate” button above the “Like” button on the page. When people donate through this button, Facebook will cover all transaction fees, and it is a great way to share your contribution with your social network. This also streamlines the process of creating your own fundraiser for Atheist Republic, which you can do through the “Donate” function when creating a new post or status on your personal profile!