- Switzerland Bans the Burqa
Switzerland's parliament has endorsed a new law banning face coverings, believed to target Muslim women wearing burqas and niqabs. This decision comes after the country's lower chamber voted 151 to 29 in support of the bill, which not only bans the covering of the nose, mouth, and eyes in public spaces but also in private buildings accessible to the public. Violators will face a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,114). Although the legislation includes exceptions for indigenous customs, religious services, theatrical performances, and health and climate reasons, it follows a 2009 policy prohibiting the construction of new mosque minarets. Notably, a 2021 study by the University of Lucerne indicated that only between 21 and 37 women in Switzerland wore a niqab, and none wore the burqa.
- Iranian Teenager Dies After Hijab Law Confrontation!
The death of 16-year-old Armita Geravand in Iran has sparked outrage and concern over the country's strict hijab law. Armita allegedly had a confrontation with officers enforcing the mandatory Islamic dress code in the Tehran metro on October 1. She fell into a coma immediately following the encounter and was later pronounced brain-dead. Despite official denials from Iranian authorities about the circumstances leading to her coma, human rights groups publicized her condition by sharing photos of her unconscious and on life support. Iran's official Islamic Republic news agency (IRNA) reported, "Unfortunately, she went into a coma for some time after suffering from brain damage. She died a few minutes ago.” This incident adds to growing dissent in Iran, particularly following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last year, who died in custody after a similar confrontation with morality police. Since Amini's death, there has been a noticeable increase in Iranian women appearing unveiled in public, in defiance of the law.
- Islamic Blasphemy Culture Comes to the UK
In an eye-opening speech at the Royal United Services Institute, Robin Simcox, the UK's Commissioner for Countering Extremism, sounded urgent alarm bells about the rise of anti-blasphemy actions threatening free speech in the UK. In a comprehensive speech, Simcox delved into the intricacies of the issue, stating that it's driven not just by extremists but by a "fundamentalist reading of scripture," wherein all other rights, including free speech, are made subservient to defending the honor of Islam’s Prophet. He cited instances like the cancellation of the 'Lady of Heaven' film and anti-blasphemy actions at Batley Grammar School and Kettlethorpe High School. "I am not interested in nor capable of refereeing theological disputes, but you don’t need to be a theologian to say that violence, persecution, discrimination, and abuse of Ahmadis is unacceptable," Simcox said. He also discussed the broader challenges posed by Islamism, which he described as "adaptable" and guided by a supremacist worldview, cautioning that it presents an ongoing threat that shouldn't be ignored.
- Faith or Federal Law? Oklahoma's Battle Over Publicly Funding a Catholic School!
In Oklahoma, a legal battle is heating up over the intersection of public education and religious instruction. Attorney General Gentner Drummond has filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board from establishing what would be the United States' first publicly funded religious charter school, named the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School. The school, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, had received approval in a narrow 3-2 vote by the school board back in June. Drummond argues that the move would violate both state and U.S. constitutions. He issued a stark warning: "Make no mistake, if the Catholic Church were permitted to have a public virtual charter school, a reckoning will follow in which this state will be faced with the unprecedented quandary of processing requests to directly fund all petitioning sectarian groups." This lawsuit adds a new dimension to ongoing debates about the separation of church and state, especially as conservative-led states are increasingly pushing to include religious education in public schools.
- The Weird Religious Reason Russia Rejected This Currency Design
In a move that highlights the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in state affairs, Russia's central bank recently halted the circulation of a new 1,000 ruble note. The decision came after Orthodox priests criticized the design, which featured religious sites from the majority-Muslim Tatarstan republic, including an Orthodox church without a cross on its dome. While the church actually lacks a cross in real life—having lost it to Bolshevik action in 1917—the design was still deemed offensive by clerics like Pavel Ostrovsky, who said the note's design could be a "deliberate provocation." This incident not only reveals the church's sway over state decisions but also adds another layer to the complex relationship between church and state in Russia, especially under President Vladimir Putin.
- Exposed: YouTube's Role in the Rise of Hindu Extremist Music in India
The popular video streaming platform YouTube is under scrutiny for auto-generating videos that promote hate speech and violence against Muslims in India. A YouTube spokesperson told Bellingcat that the platform labels videos as "Auto-generated" when they are mass-produced Art Tracks created from audio tracks, artwork, and metadata submitted by record labels and artists, rather than being directly uploaded by users. These videos feature songs from the genre known as "Hindutva Pop," which advances a nationalist ideology aimed at establishing India as a Hindu-only nation. The videos often include static images of Hindu supremacist symbols and leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India's Hindu nationalist ruling party. A striking example is a song by Hindutva singer Ved Prakash Shukla, which translates to "Yogi will come to power till Hindu blood runs in our veins." The song has been chanted at religious rallies and includes lyrics such as "We will write Jai Shri Ram with streams of blood," invoking the Hindu deity Ram in a combative context. Despite violating YouTube's policies against promoting violence or hate, these auto-generated videos have amassed millions of views and even feature advertisements, raising questions about the platform's content moderation systems.
- Indian Politician’s Puppy’s Name Sparks Religious Controversy
Rahul Gandhi, a Congress leader in India, is facing legal consequences for naming his new puppy "Noorie," a word that means light. Gandhi introduced the pup as a new addition to his family in a YouTube video, stating, “She flew in from Goa straight into our arms, and has become the light of our lives." However, this choice of name has sparked controversy. Mohammad Farhan, spokesperson for the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), filed a petition alleging that the name "Noorie" hurts Muslim sentiments. Farhan explained, "I have told the court that the word Noor is related to Prophet Mohammad and is mentioned 42 times in Quran. Noorie is a synonym of Noor." The case has raised questions about the intersection of religious sentiment and freedom of expression in the country.
- Pakistani Professor Forced by Radical Muslims to Deny Darwin and Declare Women 'Inferior'!
In a deeply unsettling incident that has ignited conversations about science, gender, and religious conservatism, Assistant Professor Sher Ali from Pakistan's Bannu City was forced into disavowing Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Sher Ali was not only made to reject this cornerstone of modern biology but also publicly state that women are "intellectually inferior" to men and decry mixed-gender social events. The controversy initially emerged when Sher Ali spoke at a seminar on women's rights, triggering accusations from local clerics that he was "speaking against Islam and local culture." Harris Sultan, author of "The Curse of God--Why I Left Islam," subsequently shared the incident on social media, lambasting the suppression of academic freedom and stating, "These radical Muslims with handsome beards force a University professor Sher Ali, to condemn the Theory of Evolution and say on record that women are 'intellectually inferior' to men as per the Quran and hadith." This alarming episode has reignited concerns over the tenuous balance between religious beliefs, scientific education, and women's rights in Pakistan.
- Poll Reveals: Religious Americans More Likely to Support Political Violence!
In a disquieting insight into the state of American democracy, a new survey reveals that support for political violence is notably high among religious communities, especially among white evangelical Protestants. A startling one-third of this group supports the idea of political violence, markedly outpacing support in other religious cohorts. The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, underscores an escalating concern for the future of American democracy, with 75% of all Americans feeling it's at risk. The religious angle is particularly concerning given that more than half of white evangelical Protestants also agree with the statement that God gave America to European Christians as a "promised land." This theological stance correlates with an increased willingness to support political violence to "save the country." MSNBC host Joy Reid noted, "People do not have confidence in democracy as a way to solve their fundamental concerns," highlighting a disturbing trend that religious beliefs are intersecting dangerously with democratic values.
- Exposing the Paradox of 'Queers for Palestine’
We're thrilled to announce that Armin Navabi has penned a thought-provoking article for Queer Majority that delves into the complexities of the Israel-Palestine conflict and its reception in Western liberal circles. The article critically examines the popular yet paradoxical slogan "Queers for Palestine," urging readers to consider the ideological inconsistencies that it entails. Israel leads the Middle East in LGBT rights, whereas the situation in Palestinian territories starkly contrasts this. The article calls for a move beyond oversimplified narratives to a more nuanced understanding of the conflict, challenging the uncritical support for organizations whose ideologies may be antithetical to liberal democratic values, including LGBT rights. We encourage everyone to read this eye-opening piece and engage in a more informed discourse. Read the Article Here.