The Association for Secular Humanism in Malawi (an AAI Member) has
released a report on the extent of witchcraft in Malawi - and it is
depressing reading. Belief in witchcraft is widespread, the number of
cases is rising and people suspected of witchcraft are often subject to
violence. The report recommends ten initiatives to combat the violence
against those accused of witchcraft.
Atheist Alliance International congratulates the
Association for Secular Humanism for its work to document the extent of
the problems in Malawi and its ongoing campaign against superstitious
and dangerous practices.
Read the full report
Atheist Alliance International is grateful to Mary Davis for contributing an excellent reading of Centennial Oration by
Robert G. Ingersoll. You can hear a sample of the piece by clicking here. The full version, along with other historical
freethought pieces in podcast format, is available to AAI members.
Click here for more information on the Freethought Audio Library.
Originally published on the Secular Humanist League of Brazil's blog here.
In Brazil we’ve witnessed a growth in the number of national representatives elected in 2010 who only work to try and limit individual rights of women, gays and other minorities hated by biblical text. They are known as the “evangelical bench“. I would rather call them “theocratic bench”, since I know not all evangelical Christians think their beliefs should be forced down everyone’s throats, let alone by the power of a purportedly secular government.
Since we’ve got constitutional separation of church and state, we should at least hope their actions were halted. But often government is very dubious. In 2011, Marco Feliciano, a representative who is also a preacher, tried to pass a bill to make religious teaching mandatory for students in public schools. Fortunately, his bill was rejected at once.
On the other hand, public schools have been forced to offer religious teaching for decades, with no orientation whatsoever of what kind of teaching this would be, rendering a not so unexpected result of public tuition hijacked by religious proselytising, as has been proved by human rights scholar Debora Diniz. The law says students can choose not to attend religious teaching, but the truth is that most of them are not even informed of this right.
Another example of religious intrusion is that last July the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro has approved a law that forces public libraries to have bibles in their collections. No such thing has been done in relation to the Quran or the Baghavad Gita, of course.
Alexandar Aan, a 30-year-old father and civil servant who was beaten, fired from his government job, and then arrested by local authorities for daring to declare "God doesn't exist" on his personal Facebook page, is now facing calls for his beheading by local Muslims.
The trouble began several weeks ago when civil servant Alexander Aan posted a message on the Facebook page of Atheist Minang, a group of Indonesians with godless beliefs. It read: “God doesn’t exist.” The post so enraged residents in Aan’s hometown of Pulau Punjung in West Sumatra province that an angry mob of dozens stormed his office and beat up the 30-year-old. He was then summarily fired and later picked up by Indonesian authorities as part of an investigation of whether he violated the law by 'Insulting Islam'. If convicted of blasphemy, he could face a five-year jail sentence.
But none of this has been enough for some Muslim extremists, who have now called for his beheading. “He has hurt the feelings of the people in Minang society and damaged the religious structure by his posting,” said the local head of the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) Syamsul Bahri Khatib. The Indonesian Council of Ulama is the country's recognized authority on Islamic matters, and the secular government often follows the MUI's recommendations in matters of Islamic law.
Atheist Alliance International has called on the Indonesian authorities to end their persecution of Mr. Aan, as well as contacted several international human rights bodies and governments to put pressure on the Indonesian government. It has also started a legal relief fund for Mr. Aan's assistance. Supporters are encouraged to contribute to allow Mr. Aan the ability to defend himself and his human rights.