Created on Monday, 28 May 2012 10:15
Originally published by Sahara Reporters.
Today around the globe too many atrocities are being committed with impunity in the name of god, allah and other constructs, which have over the ages, identified or associated with the so called supreme being. The dream of a secular peaceful world where people of all faiths and none can coexist in harmony- continues to elude many across the region. Millions of people- theists and atheists- continue to suffer and are abused due to superstition, religious fundamentalism and supernaturalism. In this piece I will focus on two of such areas.
The rights of non-believers. I have heard it proclaimed at the UN that the rights of women are human rights. I have also heard it proclaimed that the rights of gay people are human rights. These proclamations changed the way human rights are perceived around the globe. Personally I have yet to hear it proclaimed at UN, or at our regional and national human rights bodies that the rights of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are human rights. I do not want these rights to be implied or assumed as currently the case in most countries. I want them to be expressly declared as universal human rights.
In spite of the progress the world has made in terms of upholding human rights and liberties, and getting states to honour their obligations under various instruments and mechanisms, equal rights have yet to be extended to religious non-believers in most parts of the world particularly in Africa.
The full article is available here: http://saharareporters.com/article/atheism-and-human-rights-abuses-africa-leo-igwe.
Created on Sunday, 13 May 2012 15:06
(This piece is an amalgamation of information from articles originally published here: http://www.rferl.org/content/iran_rapper_/24578413.html / http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15944274,00.html / http://www.eurasiareview.com/11052012-germany-iranian-rapper-najafi-in-hiding-after-death-threats/ http://www.freemuse.org/sw47478.asp)
After the exiled Iranian rapper and rock
guitarist Shahin Najafi released a controversial song entitled ‘Naghi’,
an Iranian cleric issued a death sentence (fatwa) against him, and a
news site in the country started a campaign calling for his
assassination. The song ‘Naghi’ is believed to be offensive to Imam Naqi, the tenth Imam in Shia Islam.
The news website Asr Iran, which is closely
tied to the regime in Tehran, launched an online campaign calling for
the hanging of 31-year-old Shahin Najafi. The website stated that the
aim of the campaign was to have Najafi condemned for blasphemy, a crime
that carries the death penalty in Iran.
The campaign organisers called on all
Shi’ites and Muslims in general to find and kill Najafi and “send him to
hell,” according to the website. This happened after a Shia cleric based in
the Iranian city of Qom, Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, issued a death
sentence against Shahin Najafi for apostasy, the Persian-language Al
Arabiya website reported on 9 May 2012. Al Arabiya dubbed Najafi as
“Salman Rushdie of music”.
Created on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 19:48
Oh, we can think of a few things! AAI Members can now listen to Robert Ingersoll's What Would You Substitute For the Bible as a Moral Guide? through the Freethought Audio Library, thanks to a recording by David Brocker.
AAI Members can access this recording by logging into the Members Only section of the AAI website, then finding the Freethought Audio Library under the Resources menu.
Created on Saturday, 05 May 2012 07:17
There is a new addition to AAI's Freethought Audio Library! Thank you to Richard Ponce for his recording of Bertrand Russell's What is the soul. AAI Members can access this recording by logging into the Members Only section of the AAI website, then finding the Freethought Audio Library under the Resources menu.
Created on Friday, 27 April 2012 08:00
Women celebrate when the results were announced.
“Crime is having no rights!” reads the banner. (Picture: AgBR/ CFêmea)
Anencephaly, according to Wikipedia, is a cephalic disorder that results from a neural tube defect that occurs when the cephalic (head) end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp.
On 12 April Brazil took a true secular action by decriminalizing the abortion of anencephalic fetuses and assuring the rights of pregnant women in such cases. With eight votes for and two against, the result of the judgment may not have been as significant as the signaled Brazilian position regarding religion and State separation: minister Marco Aurélio Mello of the Supreme Court of Brazil (“Superior Tribunal Federal”), the highest judicial court, rapporteur of this process and first to vote pro-decriminalization, included a whole section in his speech to reinforce the fact that the constitution is laic, and no religious belief should interfere in the law.
Some interesting parts are transcripted below (free translation):
“Gods and Caesars have separated places. The State is not religious, nor is atheist. The State is simply neutral.”
Created on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 12:37
The First Philippine Atheists and Agnostics
Convention was held in Manila on Saturday April 21st
by the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS). This event is notable
in that it came into being from a grassroots organization started on Facebook
only just over a year ago. The ambitious work of its members, its chairperson
Marissa Torres Langseth and president John Paraiso, drew a crowd of around 150
supporters and speakers from many organizations around the world. Don’t be
fooled by the size of the turnout; this is truly a spark in a tinderbox.
The vast majority of people in the
Philippines are fervently religious, the country being predominantly Roman
Catholic with an Islamic population in the south, and it is also highly
superstitious. At the convention we learned of the power of the Catholic Church
in the Philippines, where voters are outright coerced into election choices under
the threat of excommunication. Even more alarming is the church’s stance on
birth control, abortion rights and, women’s rights. The church’s influence has
led to overpopulation with a majority of Filipinos living in poverty, where AIDS
and other sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase. Lack of basic
education and the threat of damnation for rational family planning plague the
population. Undue meddling in the government by the church has allowed it to
maintain control since it was forced onto the Filipino population by the
Spaniards. But times are changing. As
Marissa Torres Langseth wrote in the preamble to the convention, “No more
hiding, no more lying—we are coming out…Our tools are logic, critical thinking,
Created on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 08:47
The AECH, Skeptics Association of Chile, started
as a group of people who got to know each other through debates on online
forums. They were familiar with the work
of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, among others, and were also catalyzed by the appearance
of a very well known charlatan on television.
AECH’s work involves
publishing articles online, running two radio shows, and also going after
possible charlatans or quacks, explaining people why some
benefits-for-little-money might be a scam.
They spread science through the internet and their radio shows, which a
lot of people still don’t have access to in our country, where statistics about
reading skills and reading comprehension are frantically depressing.
AECH’s objectives are
to undertake an educational role in the mass media, create debate wherever and
whenever it’s needed and raise awareness of all the quackery still going on.
I contacted Luis León
Cárdenas Graide, better known as ‘Luchostein’, who is a member of this
But before Luis’
interview, what is the apostasy campaign and how does it work?
The apostasy campaign
is a (hopefully) massive gathering of people to formally renounce their
religion. People participate by attending a meeting in their communities where
they are given apostasy letters to fill in.
The letters are handed in by groups to their respective archdiocese,
which then has two days time (by law) to go through the papers and delete the
apostates from its records permanently.
For more information
on the apostasy campaign in Chile see: http://www.aech.cl/2012/03/convocatoria-participar-en-apostasia.html.
Created on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 05:18
This article was originally published in the Jakarta Post.
A civil servant who incited controversy by declaring that he was atheist was on Monday indicted on three charges, including one for violating the Information Transaction Law (ITE).
The first charge brought against Alexander at the Muaro Sijungung District Court was for violating Article 28, Clause 2 of the ITE. Next was for Article 156a(a) of the Criminal Code (KUHP), and the last for violating Article 156a(b) of the KUHP.
Alexander was indicted for creating a Facebook group called Minang Atheists. Alexander wrote about Prophet Muhammad on the Facebook wall. The trial was attended by five witnesses, Hendri, Mulyadi, Doni Saptri, Yon Riadi, and Hendri Martariko, who had seen the pictures and posts on Alexander's Facebook group.
Prosecutor Ibrahim Khalil, in the indictment, said the Facebook posts and pictures insulted Islam. The posts also caused a public disturbance and outcry.
Created on Thursday, 29 March 2012 20:56
Originally published on BuzzFlash@Truthout.
In the year 312, the Roman Emperor Constantine saw some kind
of a religious vision at some time before a battle in which he defeated his
major rival at the time, Maxentius (1). Just what the nature of the vision was
is unclear, but it did lead to Constantine's conversion to what became Roman
Catholicism. This event functionally ended close to 300 years of an often
underground existence of the early Christian religion, which had previously
suffered major episodes of violent persecution from a succession of Roman
emperors. Now the Church could exist out-in-the-open. Constantine's conversion
led to the calling of a grand Council of Church leaders under the direction of
the Emperor himself. (No separation of church-and-state back then. Rick
Santorum would have fit right in.) It was held in the lake-side town of Nicea
(now Iznik, in Turkey). It produced what came to be known as the First Nicean
Creed, the first coordinated statement of Catholic doctrine.
Nevertheless, the bishops were hardly unchallenged in the
field of competitive religion. There still were a wide variety of both
polytheistic and competing monotheistic religions within both the Eastern and
the Western sectors of the Empire. As well, there were major schisms (sometimes
leading to violent struggles) within their own house over such issues as the
true nature of Jesus: human, divine, or both. Nevertheless, over time those
conflicts were resolved, sometimes through the use of force (yes, even over
such matters as the nature of Jesus.) Then the bishops struggled with what they
could do to enlarge their flock and retain their allegiance. They developed a
variety of approaches to solving this problem. One major initiative was to
focus on sex.
Created on Friday, 11 May 2012 08:02
(Image: Benjamin Wheelock, Salon.com)
9, 2012, President Obama, who has for years said that his view of marriage
equality is still “evolving,” told ABC
news in an unanticipated move, “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded
that, for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I
think same-sex couples should be able to get married” (video may not stream for
a few days, due to server-overload on their end).
of course, vary.
and the religious right have taken a predictable stance on the issue. Romney’s senior advisor, Ed Gillespie, spoke on MSNBC,
detailing the position of the Romney campaign.
In short, they are still of the opinion that marriage is between “one
man and one woman,” and Romney has gone so far as to threaten a Constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage for all states (which, it should be said, goes
against their stated “states'-rights” agenda, wherein the government is supposed
to not make decisions for individual states…see the short video linked at the
end of this article). Their conservative
base is naturally behind their stance.
Created on Thursday, 03 May 2012 10:40
The trial of Alexander Aan - the Indonesian man attacked and charged with blasphemy after posting 'God does not exist' on Facebook - is underway. As noted by in an article in the Guardian his prospects may be grim.
Freedom of expression is a critical issue for atheists. We are in the minority and it's all too common for religious people to claim they are offended by the statement of our conclusion that there are no gods. Religious people should not be offended by this simple statement, but even if they are, physical assault and imprisonment is a not a reasonable response.
If you would like to state your support for freedom of expression and help Alexander you can contact the Indonesian authorities to call for his release and register your concern about Indonesia's blasphemy laws.
Atheist Alliance International is collecting donations to help pay for Aan's legal costs and to support the Aan family's living expenses while he is in jail, at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate
(Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan).
Created on Monday, 30 April 2012 17:35
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
Created on Sunday, 29 April 2012 05:27
Thank you to Richard Ponce for his recording of Bertrand Russell's Am I an Atheist or Agnostic for AAI's Freethought Audio Library. AAI Members can access this recording by logging into the Members Only section of the AAI website, then finding the Freethought Audio Library under the Resources menu.
Created on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 06:10
Just when sequestering, shunning and sheltering seemed to be enough to keep the minds of ultra-Orthodox Jewish followers from exploring anything reasonable or scientific outside themselves, it seems the leaders have learned to embrace modern psychology, well sort of. In a new effort to help "problematic" members fall in line and control their tayvos - desires - leading rabbis in various Hasidic communities in Israel have linked up with morally questionable psychiatrists in order to prescribe drugs intended to kill sex drive and aid in the "struggle against homosexuality."
Some definitions of terms that appear in the articles: Yeshiva- a religious college for boys where only religious scriptures are learned; Rebbe- the head of a Hasidic community, higher ranking than a "rabbi" and seen as an intermediary between the faithful and God; Hasidic Jews- continuation of an 18th century spiritual revival movement in Eastern Europe which is known for stringent observance of Jewish law and isolating themselves from the secular world in regards to media, education and actual contact. The first article is the initial report uncovered by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which is one of the most widespread and internationally recognized Israeli newspapers.
Created on Friday, 13 April 2012 01:05
Gambia lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons are not
accorded their basic right to simply be who they are.
Monday 10 April 2012 marked a historic day of the unrealistic denial of the
diversity of sexual orientation. Seventeen
young Gambian men - Alieu Sarr, Kebba Ceesay, Abdoulie Bojang, Amadou Jallow,
Amidou Nyang, Ousman Gomez, Sainey Fatty, Lamin Konateh, Lamin Sarr, Buba
Banda, Ebrima Jallow, Lamin Saho, Abdoulie Cham, Lamin Jaiteh, Ousman Dibba,
Adboulie Saidy, and Muhammed Manneh - were remanded at the Mile 2 Central
Prison on grounds of being under police investigation for having engaged
in homosexual activities. An eighteenth accused man, Nigerian
immigrant Ogika Amenechi, was also charged.
The seventeen Gambia nationals and Nigerian were charged with having been
engaged in "indecent practice among themselves in public places" on 5
April 2012 at Serre Kunda and other places in The Gambia.
The seventeen accused, who pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, were
denied bail on Monday on the grounds that they were being investigated. Even
though the Magistrate who presided over the case told the court that the men
were charged with a bailable offence and noted that they had been in detention
since 5 April, the Police prosecutor persisted with his application for bail
The case was adjourned to 19 April 2012 for hearing. The accused were not represented during the
Created on Monday, 02 April 2012 15:27
An albino boy was abducted from a church in
Kenya in March 2012. He was taken
while the people in the congregation had their eyes closed as prayers were
The congregation’s suspicions fell on the
pastor who was interrogated and apparently confessed to facilitating the boy’s
passage to Tanzania, a country known for ritual killings of albinos. The pastor is said to have been ordered to
bring back the boy – he left, but returned a few days later without the young
albino boy. Subsequently a mob descended
on the church.
Lawrence Nyagah, a humanist activist and an
albino himself, said”images of an enraged mob burning and tearing the church
into pieces was aired on one of Kenya’s TV stations [which] spoke more than
words could have said about the anger of the crowd, but it further said more:
that by perpetuating superstitions the church as an institution was complicit
in such incidences of human rights abuse.”
The matter is (allegedly) being pursued by the Kenyan police.
Lawrence said he is “attracted to humanism
because of the work humanists are doing to end belief in superstition. Lawrence said he converted from Catholicism to
humanism about two years ago after reading about Leo Igwe and the IHEU, and
expressed Africa’s need of more courageous people committed to the fight
against belief in and practice of superstitions.
Created on Saturday, 24 March 2012 17:47
Originally published by AFP
DHAKA — A Bangladesh court on Wednesday ordered authorities to shut down five Facebook pages and a website for blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed, the Koran and other religious subjects, a lawyer said.
Judges at the high court in Dhaka ordered the telecommunications regulator, home ministry officials and police to block the offending pages immediately.
"These pages contain disparaging remarks and cartoons about Prophet Mohammed, the Muslim holy book of Koran, Jesus, Lord Buddha and Hindu gods," Nawshad Zamir, a lawyer of the petitioner who brought the case, told AFP.
"They mostly targeted the prophet and the Koran. These pages hurt the sentiments of the country's majority Muslim population and the followers of other religions. Some of the cartoons are very close to pornography."