Created on Sunday, 18 May 2014 07:54
Six months after starting a humanist charity in 2010, Dale McGowan unveiled a philanthropist’s version of a beta test. He already offered donors to his organization, the Foundation Beyond Belief, the opportunity to designate their gifts for groups that worked in fields like refugee aid and environmentalism. Then, in an contrarian brainstorm, he decided to try adding a category for progressive religious bodies.
He thought he had found the perfect test case with Quaker Peace and Social Witness, part of the British branch of the Society of Friends. Here was a nondogmatic denomination with a longstanding commitment to pacifism, racial equality and economic fairness. What, even for atheists, agnostics and freethinkers, was there not to like?
Well, Mr. McGowan soon enough found out. “No way am I going to give my money to groups that will use it to hit my kids over the head with a Bible,” wrote one member in an email as he cut off his financial support. A blogger on the site No Forbidden Q uestions put the objections somewhat more elegantly: “While I’m happy to hear when people move away from fundamentalism toward a more liberal understanding of religion, I think it would be best if people became (or stayed) atheist, and that’s the goal I want to support.”
Created on Thursday, 15 May 2014 23:17
A Sudanese judge on Thursday sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, in a ruling which activists described as "abhorrent".
Born to a Muslim father, the woman was convicted under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, is married to a Christian and eight months pregnant, human rights activists say.
"We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged," Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told the woman, addressing her by her father's Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.
Created on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 01:20
MOSCOW — A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church strongly denounced the Eurovision Song Contest’s transgender winner, saying it was a sign of the world’s moral decline and part of an effort to “reinforce new cultural norms.”
Conchita Wurst, the stage name of a former band singer from Austria named Tom Neuwirth, won the 59th installment of the competition, held this year in Copenhagen, with a song titled “Rise Like a Phoenix,” which she performed early Sunday (May 11) as a bearded woman in a form-fitting gold dress.
The Eurovision contest draws well over 100 million viewers annually, and the contest has become a point of national pride in Russia, which began competing in the 1990s.
“The process of the legalization of that to which the Bible refers to as nothing less than an abomination is already long not news in the contemporary world,” Vladimir Legoyda, chairman of the church’s information department, told the Interfax news agency. “Unfortunately, the legal and cultural spheres are moving in a parallel direction, to which the results of this competition bear witness.”
Created on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 00:27
By: Syed Raza Hassan
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani police have registered a case of blasphemy against 68 lawyers who made a public protest after a police officer detained one of their colleagues, officials said on Tuesday, the latest in a tidal wave of such accusations flooding the country.
Analysts say the surge in accusations is a worrying sign the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people is becoming less tolerant as militant ideas enter mainstream politics.
The colonial-era law does not define blasphemy, but the charge carries the death penalty. Presenting evidence can be considered a new infringement, so judges are reluctant to hear cases.
Judges who free those accused of blasphemy have been attacked and two politicians who suggested reforming the law were shot dead. Those acquitted have often been lynched.
Created on Monday, 12 May 2014 23:44
A vehicle from the Chinese police special tactical unit guards the sidewalk near the site of an attack near Beijing's Forbidden City last year. Pic: AP.
Tensions remain high in China following a spate of attacks linked to Muslim Uighur extremists, prompting Chinese authorities to increase security on the streets of capital Beijing.
The most recent suicide attack by suspected Uighur separatists occurred at a train station in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, and killed three people and injured 79 more. The two bombers were also killed in the explosion.
Created on Saturday, 10 May 2014 09:51
Washington, May 7, 2014 — Although most Hispanics in the United States continue to belong to the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic share of the Hispanic population is declining, while rising numbers of Hispanics say they are Protestant or unaffiliated with any religion. Indeed, nearly one-in-four Hispanic adults (24%) are now former Catholics, according to a major, nationwide survey of more than 5,000 Hispanics by the Pew Research Center.
Together, these trends suggest that some religious polarization is taking place among U.S. Latinos – the nation’s largest minority group – with the shrinking majority of Hispanic Catholics holding the middle ground between two growing groups, evangelical Protestants and the unaffiliated, that are at opposite ends of the U.S. religious spectrum.
The Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion finds that a majority (55%) of the nation’s estimated 35.4 million Latino adults – or about 19.6 million Latinos – identify as Catholic today. About 22% are Protestant (including 16% who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical) and 18% are religiously unaffiliated.
The share of Hispanics who are Catholic likely has been in decline for at least the last few decades. But as recently as 2010, Pew Research polling found that fully two-thirds of Hispanics (67%) were Catholic. That means the Catholic share has dropped by 12 percentage points in just the last four years.
Created on Thursday, 08 May 2014 14:25
A Saudi court has imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi for 10 years for "insulting Islam" and setting up a liberal web forum, local media report.
He was also sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riyals ($266,000; £133,000).
Amnesty International called the verdict "outrageous" and urged the authorities to quash the verdict.
Mr Badawi, the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, was arrested in 2012.
A Saudi newspaper close to the government reported that he had lost his appeal against an earlier, more lenient sentence of seven years and three months in jail and 600 lashes.
Last year he was cleared of apostasy, which could have carried a death sentence.
AAI also start a petition against Rescind Saudi Laws Designating Atheists as "Terrorists"
Created on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 00:20
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has denied being involved in the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen, telling a jury he acted as "a mouthpiece" for the kidnap group.
Giving evidence for a third day in New York, Abu Hamza said he had provided the kidnappers with a satellite phone but said he had not known of the plot.
Abu Hamza, 56, likened himself to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
He denies 11 kidnapping and terror counts, including the 1998 abductions.
The Egyptian-born preacher was asked about his alleged involvement in the December 1998 abduction of 12 Britons, two Americans and two Australians in southern Yemen.
Four of the tourists were killed by the captors.
Created on Monday, 12 May 2014 23:33
By Raphael Rowe
Mikaeel Ibrahim (centre) was met at Manchester Prison by Mizanur Rahman (left) and Abdul Muhid (right)
The head of the prison and probation service says there is a small but "significant risk" of Muslim prisoners becoming radicalised. Panorama spoke to one convict who was met by Islamic extremists when he was released from prison.
Michael Coe went into prison as a gangster and left as Mikaeel Ibrahim, a convert to Islam.
In 2006 he had been jailed for eight years after threatening police officers with a shotgun while on parole for a knifepoint carjacking.
Created on Thursday, 08 May 2014 14:52
Boko Haram abducts more girls, claim they are following God’s instructions
WRITTEN BY JO STEPHANIE, AAI NEWS TEAM
More than three weeks ago the Islamist group Boko Haram abducted around 276 girls, ages 16-18, from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria. However reprehensible these abductions are, they are not surprising. The group has bombed many buildings including churches and mosques and they’ve kidnapped women and children in the past. In the first three months of 2014 they had already killed 1,500 people.
A year ago Boko Haram warned it would begin abducting girls and selling them off – a warning which the Nigerian government did not take seriously. Perhaps emboldened by the slow and inefficient response to the abduction of well over 200 girls, on Sunday Boko Haram abducted another eleven girls aged 12-15 from Warabe, a village in Borno state.
Created on Thursday, 08 May 2014 13:06
Gunmen in the Pakistani city of Multan have shot dead a lawyer defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy, police and officials say.
Police said that Rashid Rehman was sitting in his office when he was shot. Two of his assistants were injured.
Allegations of blasphemy against Islam are taken very seriously in Pakistan.
Critics argue that blasphemy laws are frequently misused to settle personal scores and that members of minority groups are often unfairly targeted.
Senior police official Zulfiqar Ali told AFP news agency that Mr Rehman died amid "indiscriminate firing" in his office on Wednesday evening.