Leaving Islam for Atheism, and Finding a Much-Needed Place Among Peers

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Women talked about “coming out,” being open with their families, leaving “the closet” at a conference here this month. But the topic was not sexuality. Instead, the women, attending the third Women in Secularism conference were talking about being atheists. Some grew up Catholic, some Jewish, some Protestant — but nearly all described journeys of acknowledging atheism first to themselves, then to loved ones. Going public was a last, often painful, step.

Anyone leaving a close-knit belief-based community risks parental disappointment, rejection by friends and relatives, and charges of self-loathing. The process can be especially difficult and isolating for women who have grown up Muslim, who are sometimes accused of trying to assimilate into a Western culture that despises them.

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Tunisia atheist activist back in prison after presidential pardon

Mejri receives same sentence handed down by court of first instance in April for insulting public official.

TUNIS - A young Tunisian freed in March after two years in prison for posting cartoons deemed insulting to Islam, saw his eight-month sentence on a separate charge confirmed on appeal Wednesday.

Jabeur Mejri received the same sentence handed down by the court of first instance in April for insulting a public official, his lawyer Ahmed Mselmi said.

Mejri, an atheist activist, was jailed in 2012 for seven and half years for posting caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, but walked free in March after receiving a presidential pardon.

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Conchita Wurst caused Balkan floods after Eurovision win, say church leaders

Conchita Wurst is responsible for the flooding in the Balkans that left over 50 people dead, according to church leaders

Conchita Wurst is responsible for flooding that left over 50 people dead earlier this month, church leaders in the Balkans have claimed.

The Austrian drag artist, whose real name is Thomas Neuwirth, seized international attention after winning Eurovision 2014 with his hit Rise Like a Phoenix.

However, several church leaders have now claimed the recent devastating flooding across the Balkans, which was the worst in a century and left over 50 people dead, was "divine punishment" for Conchita's victory.

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Dismantling an open letter from an American Muslim to Bill Maher

Opinion piece: Dismantling an open letter from an American Muslim to Bill Maher

WRITTEN BY FARAN J, AAI NEWS TEAM

It is no longer a surprise that after a horrible act is committed by violent Muslims, Muslim apologists and their friends on the left deny any link between Islam and the people who hold extremist or violent ideas and who justify their beliefs and actions by quoting Islam and Koran. Even some progressive Muslims are sick of it. Even after almost two decades of global terrorism by Islamic terrorists, we are still arguing whether the cause has anything to do with Islam or not! I came across one such piece in TIME magazine, written by an American Muslim who is addressing Bill Maher and his so called recent "Islamophobic rant" against Islam.

Frankly, Rabia Chaudry's letter to Bill Maher is so absurd that I decided to dismantle it completely. So here goes.

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Trial of a 15 years old teenager charged with " Blasphemy" in Erbil city, Iraqi Kurdistan

Father has complained against his 15 years old son in a court in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government in North Iraq. His teenage boy would have a trial in June first for his criticism to religion.

Awina Website has reported that after Ahmad’s father has complained against his son, Asayesh (Police of Kurdistan Regional Government) has detained Ahmad for 13 days.

Ahmad has reported that the same night he was detained he was tortured by police.

Ahmad Shirvan who has chosen the name Amed Shirvan on his Facebook page and is a student in high school has been subject to violence by his father and Police because of his criticism to Islam in his page in Facebook.

Based on the report published in Awina website Ahmad’s father has taken the case to court in October 23, 2013 and Ahmad has been detained the same night and until November 4, 2013 he was under arrest.

Amed (Ahmad Shirvan) has told to Awina that he was tortured at the same night until 2 AM the next day.

Ahmad has told that when he was transferred to Erbil jail for teenagers he has been subject to violence by other prisoners and when the guards have seen the scene in the surveillance camera they have stopped the violence.

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Code of conduct drawn up for UK madrasas

Under code to be announced next month by Michael Gove, Islamic schools would ensure teachers were vetted by police

A voluntary code of conduct to regulate teaching in madrasas in Britain is due to be announced next month by the education secretary, Michael Gove.

Over the past decade, ministers from all parties have expressed unease at the inability to regulate teaching in the schools, which offer supplementary education outside of mainstream schooling. But they have held back partly due to the amount of regulation that would be required.

The plans have emerged as an Ofsted inquiry continues into claims of an attempt by Islamist extremists to take over as many as 21 schools in Birmingham, a charge that is strongly rejected by many in Birmingham. Gove has appointed Peter Clarke, the former head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, to lead a Department for Education inquiry, one of four investigations being carried out.

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“Happy” Iranian in custody

Six young men and women, who were arrested and detained in Tehran for making a video in which they danced to Pharrell William’s hit song “Happy” should be immediately released, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.

The youth were paraded on state TV on May 20, 2014, where they were forced to express remorse for their “guilty” act.

“If it is now a criminal act for youth to show their happiness in Iran, then law enforcement, and the hardline centers of power they represent, must really be running scared. This is exactly the kind of moment when Rouhani must take a stand,” said Campaign Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.

The video, set to the smash 2013 hit, went viral on YouTube, where it was viewed well over a hundred thousand times before being removed. The video is no longer publicly available. A copy of it was posted on YouTube today and can be viewed here.

A Twitter campaign, #freehappyiranians, calling for the release of the youth, was launched on May 20.

It is not clear what charges the youths face; authorities referred to their “criminal act” which included making a video that “hurt the public’s chastity.”

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Humanist Foundation Reaches Out to Religious Groups, Testing a Divide

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.”

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Transgender Eurovision contest winner condemned by Russian Orthodox Church

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.”

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Eight of the most homophobic things UKIP candidates and supporters have said

As many took to the polls at the European and local elections today, PinkNews took some time to reminisce on the top ten most homophobic things said by UKIP supporters and candidates over recent years.

From saying PinkNews readers should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, to claiming that it is okay to be homophobic if you are over 70, the party has been a fountain of anti-gay remarks.

In no particular order, here are ten of the worst comments made by the ‘Kippers.

8. UKIP CANDIDATE WRITES ON FACEBOOK THAT “POOFTERS” SHOULD BE SHOT

On 17 February, John Lyndon Sullivan wrote on Facebook: “I rather often wonder if we shot one “poofter” (GLBT whatevers), whether the next 99 would decide on balance, that they weren’t after-all? We might then conclude that it’s not a matter of genetics, but rather more of education ;)”

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Ads on 20 Metro buses in the nation’s capital link Adolf Hitler with Islam, portraying “Islamic Jew-hatred.”

Washington -  Ads on 20 Metro buses in the nation’s capital link Adolf Hitler with Islam, portraying “Islamic Jew-hatred.”

The ads, placed by American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), show a photo of Hitler conversing with “his staunch ally” Haj Amin al-Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem during WWII. The ads are scheduled to run until mid-June according to AFP.

“Islamic Jew-hatred: It’s in the Quran. Two-thirds of all US aid goes to Islamic countries. Stop racism. End all aid to Islamic countries,” states the ad, in addition to a disclaimer from the Metro transit authority.

Metro says they cannot remove the ads based on a case from 2012 that states bus advertisements are included in free speech protected by the Constitution.

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Saudi Arabia: Release Raif Badawi!

The International Association of Free Thought has learned with indignation of the increased criminal sanctions imposed against the Saudi liberal blogger Raif Badawi: ten years in prison, 1000 lashes and a fine of 1 million rials, for “insulting Islam.”

Saudi Arabia is a key part of the Western system of alliances in the region. Its allies do not burden themselves with the task of questioning this theocracy and its medieval practices.

In fact, the pronounced decree threatens all shades of freedom of expression since it considers as “terrorists” not only atheists, but also all those who dare to question the fundamentals of Islam as they form the basis of the Wahhabi monarchy. This can include Shiites, Sufis, Alawis, Ahmadiyya, indeed all Muslims, but also Christians and Hindus.

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Pakistan media mughal booked under blasphemy, terrorist laws

Pakistan police registered a criminal case against against Geo TV owner Mir Shakeel-ur Rehman and Jang media group for showing a programme that allegedly contained blasphemous content, an official said. 

Geo channel on Wednesday staged a mock marriage ceremony of controversial actress Veena Malik as a religious song was played in the background. 

District and sessions judge of Okara in Punjab province yesterday ordered that a case be registered against Geo media group owner Rehman, anchor Shaistan Lodhi, actress Veena, her husband Asad Khatak and others over the programme. 

Police officer Rana Aziz said Veena, her husband Asad and programme hostess Lodhi were also named in the case registered with Margalla police station in the capital Islamabad

"They have been charged under Section 295 A, 295 C and 298 A of Pakistan Penal Code, which deal with insulting the religion, and Section 7 of anti-terrorism act," he said. 

Veena has recently married and the channel was celebrating the event. 

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Nigeria Islamist Rebel Attacks Deal Blow to Girls’ Education

Sara Lawan’s dream of becoming a lawyer was cut short a month ago when Nigerian Boko Haram insurgents raided her all-girls school in Chibok village, snatching 276 students.

Lawan, 19, and her schoolmates were put into trucks and driven to the edge of the remote Sambisa forest. When the gunmen ordered them to get down and follow them, she and a classmate made a dash for freedom, even though the militants had warned they would be shot if they tried to escape. After spending the night in the bush, they found their way back to the village.

“I thought I would’ve been killed that night,” she said by phone from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state and the birthplace of Boko Haram. “Now I fear to go back to school. I fear that I might be kidnapped again or killed this time.”

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Gambian President Threatens Gay Asylum Seekers: ‘If I Catch Them, I Will Kill Them’

The president of The Gambia on Thursday threatened the lives of citizens considering fleeing in the face of intolerance towards gays and lesbians, the latest in a string of hate speech towards the LGBT community that rivals any other on the African continent.

Gambian president Yahya Jammeh was speaking in the town of Basse in the west African country when he made his comments, related to the idea that gays and lesbians are seeking more tolerant pastures. “Some people go to the west and claim they are gays and that their lives are at risk in The Gambia, in order for them to be granted a stay in Europe,” Jammeh said, according to the APA. “If I catch them I will kill them.”

In that same speech, Jammeh also said that the British at least are skeptical of these claims and have begun conducting tests on travelers from the Gambia to confirm their sexual orientation. This likely refers to reports from last year that British authorities were asking for “proof” from those entering the country seeking asylum on the grounds of LGBT persecution. “In extreme cases claimants had handed over photographic and video evidence of ‘highly personal sexual activity’ in an effort to persuade officials, the Home Affairs Committee found,” according to the BBC at the time. The British government isstill facing the backlash from that revelation, but the targeting is not specific towards Gambians.

Jammeh’s latest comments aren’t the first h

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Sudan judge sentences Christian woman to death for apostasy

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.

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Pakistani police charge 68 lawyers with blasphemy over protest

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.

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