Texas Judge Rules Sharia Divorce Proceeding Must Be Observed
Justice Andrea Thompson, a County District Judge in Texas, ruled in March 2021 that in order for Mariam Ayad to divorce her husband, it must be arbitrated by a Fiqh panel. Mariam Ayad filed for divorce in January 2021. In her ruling, the judge stated that the divorce proceeding could not go further because of the Islamic prenuptial agreement. Under Fiqh panels, a woman’s testimony is worth half versus that of a man under divorce proceedings. Mariam responded to the ruling in her statement, stating that she did not realize that she was conceding rights to divorce through Texas courts when signing the prenuptial agreement because she was not given a chance to read the documents properly. Mariam’s attorney submitted a Writ of Mandamus petition to the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas, stating Judge Thompson’s decision an “abuse of discretion.”
Iranian Gov. Plotted to Kidnap Women's Rights Activist Masih Alinejad
Location: New York
On July 13th, an indictment unsealed by a New York federal court says that the US Department of Justice has charged four Iranian intelligence agents with orchestrating plans to kidnap an Iranian journalist to another country before taking her to Iran. Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American journalist and notable anti-hijab activist based in Brooklyn, New York, is the target of the alleged kidnapping. The indictment presented detailed descriptions of how the Iranian agents planned the kidnapping with surveillance activities conducted online by Iran's intelligence team and surveillance led by private investigators in the US. Masih has lived in New York since 2014 after escaping from Iran in 2009. Masih is a vocal critic of Iran's oppressive and inhumane treatment of women, calling it the nation’s "biggest weakness."
British MP Effectively Argues for Blasphemy Law in UK Parliament
Location: United Kingdom
On July 6th, Bradford Labour MP (UK), Naz Shah, delivered a passionate speech in Parliament during a discussion for the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts (PCSC) Bill. In her remarks, she has directly compared the “emotional harm” of the cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and the destruction of memorials. The speech comes as Britain is still in a tense situation over a teacher who is in hiding after showing school children cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Different news outlets in Britain were calling Shah’s speech a call for the return of blasphemy laws. Legislation on “emotional harm” can be a bit convoluted, as Shah failed to acknowledge the critical distinction in her speech because vandalism of memorials is a concrete criminal action.
11 Convicted For Harassing French Atheist Teen Over Anti-Islam Views
On June 7th, a French court convicted 11 out of 13 accused of cyberbullying a French lesbian teenager, Mila, over her views against Islam on social media. She started posting videos regarding her opinions and critique on Islam when she was 16. Since her video went viral, Mila has received over 10 thousand threatening messages, including death threats, rape threats, misogynistic comments, and even hate comments on her sexual orientation. She was forced to change schools multiple times and receive police protection due to the severity of the harassment she endured. She posted a video in January 2020 containing comments that would be highly offensive to practicing Muslims in response to a boy who verbally abused her "in the name of Allah." Later, she became a public figure in France as a symbol of free speech. The trial caught public awareness for being the first conviction of a cyberbullying case.
Florida parents sue Catholic school for being “too woke”?!!
The Academy of the Holy Names, a Catholic school in Florida, is being sued for teaching students about human sexuality and pregnancy termination, among other controversial issues. Anthony and Barbara Scarpo filed a lawsuit alleging that the school is ‘just acting’ to be a Catholic school, while leading the children astray. The Scarpos say that their older child just graduated from the school, but they pulled the other out because of what was being taught. They objected to the Catholic school’s efforts to teach about racism. The Scarpos listed 13 counts against the school, including breach of contract and fraud. They also demanded that the Academy of the Holy Names stop identifying itself as a Catholic school.
UK’s Methodist Church Allows Same-Sex Marriage & Bans Conversion Therapy
In a conference held from June 24th to July 1st, the Methodist Church, the second-largest Christian church in the UK, voted to allow same-sex marriage, defining marriage as "between two people." The church also voted to ban all forms of conversion therapy. A provision was added allowing any officials not to perform a same-sex marriage if it's "contrary to the dictates of his or her conscience to do so." In this memorandum, the church calls unto its members to refuse to participate in offering conversion therapy in any form. After years of struggle in the LGBTQIA+ community, these two major milestones mark a significant change within the denomination.
Ex-Vatican adviser faces trial after claiming he could cure gay men by having sex with them
Tony Anatrella, an 80-year-old French psychotherapist, a Catholic priest, and former Vatican adviser, has been plagued by allegations of sexual abuse for the last 20 years. In 2006, Daniel Lamarca went public with his claims of sexual abuse by Anatrella in an interview with Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad. He said the priest told him he could cure him of his “pseudo-homosexuality” by having sex with him. Two more anonymous accusations from previous patients of Anatrella also surfaced in 2006, but they were dismissed due to the statute of limitations and a lack of evidence. Anatrella also claimed that gay people had a whole host of problems, including “a narcissistic position in front of a community that disturbs, even to the point of dividing it.” He encouraged protests against same-sex marriage in France in 2013. Finally, according to the National Catholic Reporter, the Paris Archdiocese has confirmed that Anatrella will face trial in a church court.
The Satanic Temple Celebrates First Symbolic Satanic Monument on Public Property
Location: Salem, Massachusetts
In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in American Legion v. American Humanist Association that displaying the so-called "Bladensburg Satanic Peace Cross" on public land does not violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. Lucien Greaves, The Satanic Temple's (TST) spokesman and co-founder, announced that the TST would symbolically adopt the Peace Cross, as the Supreme Court decided that the cross-shaped war memorial was a "dechristianized" monument. He stated, "Deciding that the Bladensburg Cross does not just represent Christians, but people of all faiths including Satanists, is blasphemy that is consistent with Satanism." As such, he declared it as a site of pilgrimage for TST members. The Satanic Temple has a long tradition of helping its military members, so the adoption of the monument commemorating those lost during WWI is apt. While Belle Plaine, MN, was the first city to establish a Satanic monument in the country, Bladensburg, MD, is the first city to have a Satanic Temple-designated monument on state property.
Hindu-Nationalist Gangs Target & Segregate Interfaith Friend Groups
Location: Karnataka State, India
For the past six months, the number of harassment and violent attacks on groups of people traveling with non-Hindus has increased significantly in the Karnataka State in Southwest India. Since January 2021, police offices in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada have reported 51 public incidents of harassment (some of which ended violently), 14 cases of “moral policing” by Hindu vigilante activists, and 13 documented incidents of hate speech. The worst-case in this series of attacks happened on April 1st. A Hindu woman was traveling with Aswad Anwar Mohammed, a 23-year old Muslim man. He was stopped and stabbed by Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which are Hindu right-wing organizations that subscribe to Hindutva ideologies. According to the police, these attacks are coordinated with members of the right-wing groups corresponding with each other across different cities in Karnataka State.
New African Atheist YouTube Channel: Atheist Republic Cape Town!
Atheist Republic is thrilled to announce a new addition to our network of YouTube channels: Atheist Republic Cape Town. AR has many YouTube channels that provide atheist-centered content for diverse communities, including the main English channel, the Persian channel, the Arabic channel, and now our first channel focusing on the African continent! While the channel may take its name specifically from Cape Town, the channel’s vision is much larger, with plans to platform atheists and secular activists from across the African continent.