Atheist Republic News Summary: UN Elects Iran to Women’s Rights Commission

U.N. Elects Iran to Commission on Women’s Rights
Location: Iran

On April 20th, the United Nations elected Iran to a 4-year term on its Committee on the Status of Women. UN Watch is calling on U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and EU states to condemn the UN's decision. Though the ballot was secret, UN Watch has determined that at least four of the fifteen EU and Western Group democracies on ECOSOC voted for Iran. UN Watch asked lawmakers to demand that their governments reveal how they voted. Iranian women's rights activist Masih Alinejad stated via Twitter that electing Iran to advocate women's rights is "surreal." She went on to elaborate on the fact that Iran is a country that treats women as second-class citizens. According to the UN, Iran will play an instrumental role by promoting women's rights and documenting the reality of women's lives throughout the world. The UN's decision to elect Iran sparked outrage among human rights activists. Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, compared electing Iran for advocating women's rights with "making an arsonist into the town fire chief."

Two Iranians Handed Death Sentences For 'Insulting Muhammad’
Location: Arak, Iran

On April 22nd, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported that two Iranian men have been sentenced to death for allegedly mocking the Prophet Muhammad. They were arrested and put in prison in Arak, the capital of Markazi Province, in May 2020. One of the two men, Yusef Mehrdad, a father of three, was reportedly held in solitary confinement for two months following his arrest. In its annual report of the death penalty published earlier this week, Amnesty International reported that at least 246 people were executed by the Iranian government in 2020, making Iran one of the world’s top executioners, second only to China. Even though recorded executions in Iran continued to be lower than in previous years, the country has increasingly used the death penalty as a weapon of political repression against dissidents, protesters, and members of ethnic minority groups.

Kuwaiti woman killed after refusing marriage proposal
Location: Kuwait

A Kuwaiti woman was recently murdered after she refused a marriage proposal. A man in relation to the murder was arrested, but he was released on bail. The woman's identity has not been revealed to the public. She had reported to authorities that the man had threatened her life after her family refused his marriage proposal. Months after the report, the suspect carried out the crime. He kidnapped the woman along with her children and, in the process, rammed his car into the victim's sister's car. The man has been identified as Fahad Subhi Mohammed by social media users. In recent months, this is the latest case of abuse against women being highlighted in the Gulf state.

Indian athiest arrested in UAE for blasphemy against Islam

Location: Dubai

Dubai police have arrested an Indian immigrant, Abdul Khader Puthiyangadi, on blasphemy charges. Abdul is from the Kasaragod district of Kerala, India. He is known to be a rationalist. A complaint was lodged against Khader’s anti-religious comments with the Dubai Police. He was arrested on the alleged charges of trolling Islam on social media. Zealots had made allegations against Abdul Khader previously. The United Arab Emirates Government punishes blasphemy with several years in prison if convicted, and apostasy is punishable by death. In the case of non-citizens, they are often deported. Alternatively, he may face trial under Islamic law, which could result in a prison sentence. To support Abdul during this ordeal, free thinkers started a social media campaign called #standupwithabdulkhaderputhiyangadi.

Feds Charge Extremist Jewish Sect with Exploiting & Kidnapping Children
Location: USA

United States Federal authorities filed charges of child exploitation and abduction against an extremist Jewish sect known as the "Lev Tahor" group, also known as the "Jewish Taliban." The charges leveled against the five leaders within the Lev Tahor group are related to the forced marriage of a child bride in 2017 and her kidnapping, along with her younger brother in 2018. These charges were announced by the FBI and an attorney for the Southern District of New York. The abducted children's mother managed to break free from the group after her brother forced her then 12-year-old daughter to marry an 18-year-old man of the community for procreation. Police said the kidnappers led the children through several states with disguises until they ended up in Mexico. That is where the children were recovered and returned to New York within three weeks. Then Lev Tahor tried to kidnap them again, twice. A Justice Department press release explains that child brides in the Lev Tahor community are forced to have sex with their husbands and lie about their marriage. As of 2017, members of the Lev Tahor group were living in Chiapas, Mexico.

10-year-old Indian boy hit by BJP worker for refusal to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’
Location: Nadia, India

On April 26th, a BJP worker allegedly beat a 10-year-old boy over his refusal to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' at Phulia in Nadia. The young boy, Mahadev Sharma, was admitted to the Ranaghat Subdivisional Hospital with multiple injuries. The incident angered residents, who attacked the alleged perpetrator, Mahadeb Pramanik. The protesters raised a blockade, demanding Pramanik's arrest. The police began an inquiry and managed to lift the blockade after an hour. According to a witness, the boy was passing by Pramanik's tea stall and was singled out because of his father's recent involvement with Trinamul Congress. When he refused to chant 'Jai Shri Ram,' he was beaten badly and suffered injuries to his face, head, and back. After the assault, Pramanik fled the scene. His wife, Mithu Pramanik, the local chief of the BJP's women's wing, said to the press that the boy picked up a stone and threw it at the shop, breaking glass, which angered her husband. She also stated that Trinamul is using this incident to frame them. An official of Santipur police said that they are trying to find out what exactly happened.

Pakistani Taliban claim deadly blast at hotel hosting Chinese ambassador
Location: Quetta, Pakistan

On April 22nd, a deadly bomb blast occurred at a luxury hotel hosting the Chinese ambassador in Pakistan, killing five people. The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomb was placed in a car parked at the Serena hotel and detonated late on April 21st in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province. Police announced the blast came from an improvised explosive device, and security officials and hotel staff were among those killed. China's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the blast as a terrorist attack. Gu Wenliang, the agriculture commissioner at China's embassy in Pakistan, told a Chinese newspaper that the bomb had detonated 10 minutes prior to their expected return. A spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said that the suicide bomber hit the security officials precisely as planned. Prime minister Imran Khan stated via Twitter that the Pakistani government would not allow TTP to re-emerge in the region.

Algerian academic gets 3 years in jail for 'offending Islam'
Location: Algeria

Said Djabelkhir, an Algerian scholar on Islam, was given a three-year prison sentence on April 22nd for offending Islam. He pledged to appeal and fight for freedom of thought. Seven lawyers and a fellow academic made complaints against him because he called for "reflection" on Islam's founding manuscripts. Djabelkhir was released on bail. His lawyer, Moumen Chadi, expressed that the case is baseless. The offense Djabelkhir was convicted of can be punished by up to five years in prison. During his trial in April, Djabelkhir defended himself, arguing he had only provided "academic reflections." He mentioned that the traditional readings of the Quran no longer meet the expectations, needs, and questions of modern man. He added that the Salafists want to impose on Muslims their reading of texts as being the absolute truth, which he contests in his writings. Djabelkhir's lawyers warned against the trial serving as a launchpad for courts becoming an arena for "religious debates." Opponents, however, blame him for disrespecting the Holy Quran and the five pillars of Islam, including the yearly Haj pilgrimage.

Atheist activist Zara Kay speaks out for the first time since her arrest in Tanzania
Location: Tanzania

Zara Kay, a Tanzanian-Austrialian, is known for her work as an Ex-Muslim and atheist activist. Kay recently spoke publicly for the first time about how the Tanzanian police were paid bribes by her former Muslim community to arrest her and have her raped in jail in retaliation for her anti-Islam activism. She grew up within the Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri faith - a global Shia Muslim community. After leaving Tanzania and gaining Australian citizenship, she started the foundation Faithless Hijabi, which helps Muslim women who want to leave Islam. In September 2020, Zara flew to Tanzania for a family emergency, and due to the COVID pandemic, she extended her stay. On December 28th, she was first called into the police station. While in custody, she was verbally harassed by officers, and awoken to police groping her until she screamed until other detainees reacted. "Leaders from my former community actually paid a bribe to imprison me for a few nights, that's why [my] bail wasn't processed, and they were also paid to rape me in jail..." she says. Zara and a representative of her legal team also spoke about the lack of support they received from the Australian government throughout her ordeal.

Blasphemous art now animated!

This week the Atheist Republic team discusses an exciting new edition to the Blasphemous Art project!  For those unfamiliar, Atheist Republic has an “Silly Illustrated Scripture Series,” where at least once a month, some of the most bizarre verses from religious scripture are brought to life in comic form, to highlight exactly how absurd some of these “holy” texts really are. Now Atheist Republic is bringing these absurd scriptures to life in animated form! Armin, Susanna, and Rivka talk about the newest animated scripture, based on Deuteronomy 25:11-12, or as we titled it “Balling-Grabbing in the Bible.”

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