Atheist Republic News Summary: Survey: American Muslims Are More "Islamo...

  • Survey: American Muslims Are More "Islamophobic" Than Most Religious Groups

Location: USA

The American Muslim Poll 2022: A Politics and Pandemic Status Report, by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), has found that American Muslims are more "Islamophobic" than most religious groups, ranking 3rd overall, ahead of Jews, Protestants, Un-Affiliated, and the general public. Using the "Islamophobia Index," a measurement of a group's endorsement of anti-Muslim stereotypes, ISPU graded Muslims at 26 out of 100 in the Index, behind Catholics at 28, and White Evangelicals, who ranked the most "Islamophobic" at 30 out of 100. Erum Ikramullah, a co-author of the report, explained that minority "groups can internalize negative stereotypes about their community." Abed Ayoub, the legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, sees the rise of Christian Nationalism and White Supremacy as the primary influence on how American Muslims view their group and urged his fellow Muslims to discuss differences within their beliefs "before right-wing media spaces fill that void."

  • LGBT Activists Sentenced to Death by Iran for "Spreading Corruption"

Location: Iran

Two LGBTQ rights activists were sentenced to death in Iran for allegedly promoting homosexuality. Activists Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Chobdar were charged with “Corruption on Earth,” a vague yet lethal charge. Hamadani, also known as Sareh, was arrested in October last year after being detained by the Iraqi Kurdistan police during her attempt to cross the border to Turkey and seek asylum. Iran has intensified its propaganda, accusing Hamadani of running “one of the largest prostitution networks in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.” State-run media circulated a video showing footage of nightclubs as evidence of Hamadani and her alleged prostitution ring’s activity. A letter from Amnesty International addressed Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the chief justice of Iran, and asked for the immediate and unconditional release of Hamadani and called out Iran’s arbitrary detentions based on her “real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.” They called on Iran to “quash the convictions and death sentences” and release Hamadani and Chobar. Nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding the release of the women; please join in signing the petition here.

  • Greek Bishop Proclaims "A Woman is Not R*ped Unless She Wants To Be"

Location: Greece

A Greek Orthodox former bishop recently appeared on national television to confirm the Church’s stance against abortion and then went on to make comments about rape that have sparked outrage throughout the Southeastern European country. 83-year-old Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni appeared on Skai TV on September 2, and after endorsing the Church’s hardline stance against abortion, he explained why there should be no exceptions for rape. He stated, “A woman does not sit and get raped without wanting it. A woman is not raped unless she wants to be”. He then said there is no way a woman can conceive without “participation,” so it would be impossible for a woman to become pregnant in this manner. His statements have sparked massive outrage throughout Greece. According to the Church of Greece, the comments by the former bishop are “unacceptable for an Orthodox cleric and offensive for human beings and especially for women and victims of rape.” Niki Kerameus, Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, called the remarks “unthinkable and reprehensible.” Politicians from all parties voiced their objections as well. Aside from the official reactions, the Greek people were infuriated and took to social media to express their opinions.

  • Teen Girl Killed by Jilted Stalker, "Love Jihad" Accusation Rocks India

Location: India

Ankita Kumari, a 16-year-old Hindu girl in the Dumka district of Jharkhand, was set on fire allegedly for rejecting a Muslim man's advances. After fighting for her life in a hospital for five days, the girl succumbed to her injuries. The incident has spiraled into a communal affair as many deem it to be a case of "love jihad." After the attack, the victim narrated her ordeal in a viral video. The accused, identified as Shahrukh Hussain, and his accomplice, Naeem Khan, has been arrested. An insidious video of the arrest of the murderer, where the accused can be seen casually smiling as he is handcuffed and escorted to the police vehicle, went viral. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu right-wing group, issued a statement demanding the death of the Muslim man by hanging. BJP leaders Godda MP Nishikant Dubey, and Kapil Mishra, alleged that such a case of "love jihad" could only be carried out due to the "severe negligence" and "appeasement politics" of the current ruling state government.

  • Indian State Criminalizes Conversion under the Guise of Religious Freedom

Location: India

On August 12th, a bill to amend the existing anti-conversion law was passed in India's Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly. The new legislation states that the punishment for forcibly converting would be increased from 7 to 10 years. Minority religious communities feel that the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act is essentially designed to prevent and disincentivize the Hindu population from changing their religion. Under this bill, if a person oversees the religious conversion of two or more people simultaneously, it will come under the "mass conversions" category. The forced conversion of religion will be a non-bailable offense; the trial of such cases will go directly to the session court. The bill also forbids the lower-caste Hindus from benefiting from the reservation quota in education and employment if they or a family has converted to Christianity. Under the new legislation, any marriage with the sole purpose of converting the spouse would be declared "null and void." To change one's religion after marriage, all the people involved in conversion must provide a month's notice to a local governing magistrate.

  • UN Releases Long-Awaited Report on Chinese Abuses of Uyghur Muslims

Location: Xinjiang, China 

On August 31st, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released its report titled "Assessment of Human Rights Concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China." In 2017, the UN started receiving allegations of abuse from non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and media outlets, prompting the investigation. Since then, numerous research reports have been published alleging arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence and forced sterilizations, forced labor, and other ill-treatment of up to a million people. Years in the making, with attempted blocks and delays by the Chinese government, the report offers a damning assessment of widespread human rights abuses committed against the people of the ethnic Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minority communities. The UN-led investigation validated many findings of previous reports, including a significant increase in criminal arrests, convictions, and excessively lengthy prison sentences, along with mass referrals of individuals to what China calls "re-education camps." The report states that China's indicators for identifying persons "at risk" of extremism do not serve as actual and substantive indicators but are merely manifestations of personal choice in matters of religion and cultural preference. China's diplomatic mission in Geneva vehemently opposed the report's findings, and the Chinese government has released its own report to counter that of the United Nations. Many human rights advocates have expressed their disappointment with the absence of the term "genocide" within the report.

  • France to Deport Imam for Anti-Semitic Speech

Location: France

On August 26th, a French court decided to deport an imam, Hassan Iquioussen, who was born in France but held Moroccan citizenship, to Morocco. Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior of France, posted a tweet later that day which roughly translates to, "The Council of State validates the expulsion of Mr. Iquioussen who holds and propagates in particular anti-Semitic comments and contrary to equality between women and men." Hassan, infamous for his controversial anti-Semitic comments and misogyny, has a wide following of over 174,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 44,000 Facebook followers, which he operates from his home in northern France. A lawyer of the Interior Minister claimed that the Imam "has for years spread insidious ideas that are nothing less than an incitement to hatred, to discrimination, and to violence." However, the imam's lawyers responded by saying that some of Hassan's anti-Semitic and misogynistic comments were at least 20 years old, elucidating that he has never been convicted for his actions in public. Hassan is the second imam to be expelled from France this year. In March, Ahamada Madi and his family were deported back to his East African country of Comoros after he was accused of preaching sermons "contrary to the values of the Republic" after repeatedly reciting hadith (Islamic scripture) that are derogatory to women.

  • Saudi Arabia Hands Down Decades-Long Prison Sentences for Social Media

Location: Saudi Arabia

Recently, social media users in Saudi Arabia have been sentenced to extreme prison sentences over criticizing the Kingdom online. On August 16th, Salma al-Shehab was given a 34-year sentence for following and retweeting posts by activists and dissidents. Salma, a student at Leeds University in the United Kingdom, had been visiting her home in Saudi Arabia during a holiday break when she was detained by authorities. She was initially sentenced to three years for the crime of "causing public unrest and destabilizing civil and national security." Later an appeals court added the charge of "assisting those who seek to cause the public unrest and destabilize civil and national security by following their Twitter accounts and retweeting." The newly added charge resulted in a new sentence, which also tacked on a 34-year travel ban. Shortly after the sentencing of Salma, a second woman, Nurah bint Saeed Qahtani, was reported on August 31st to have been sentenced to 45 years in prison for similar "offenses," such as "damaging the country through her social media activity." Abdullah Alaoudh, regional director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), stated, "It seems like the beginning of a new wave of sentences and convictions by new judges who have been placed in the specialized criminal court." These sentences come after President Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July, a move many believe granted the Kingdom legitimacy and emboldened their authoritarian actions.

  • Arab Gulf Nations Demand Netflix to Remove 'Immoral' LGBT Content

Location: Saudi Arabia

On September 6th, the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) demanded the immensely popular streaming site Netflix remove "offensive content," citing material that "violates Islamic and societal values and principles." The council includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. This recent change is likely a response to Netflix airing LGBTQ positive content and including queer characters in many of its shows. Netflix still hasn't responded to the statement by the GCC. In a recently aired report on Saudi state television, an interview with a woman who calls herself a "behavioral consultant" called Netflix an "official sponsor of homosexuality." Esra Assery, CEO of the Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), said, "All legal measures will be taken to protect the Kingdom's sovereignty, citizens, and residents from any intellectual attack aimed at affecting its societies, values, the safety of upbringing their generations and protecting them from harmful content." A day after the GCC statement was released, the Egyptian government declared that they want Netflix to adhere to "societal principles and values of the country" they are streaming in.

  • Susanna's Interview with Indian Ex-Muslim Activist Arif Hussain Theruvath!

Atheist Republic's CEO Susanna McIntyre recently spoke with prominent Indian Ex-Muslim Activist Arif Hussain Theruvath on his YouTube channel! They had an enjoyable discussion about her background, what inspires her activism, how Christianity is perceived differently in India versus the United States, the rise of Hindu nationalism, and the importance of fighting to be defined by who we are as individuals and not by association with one's family or group. Susanna particularly loved picking Arif's brain about the tsunami of Ex-Muslims currently exploding in South India, the status of secularism in India, and how atheists outside India can join in defending it. Make sure to check out the full interview here!

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