JAKARTA, Indonesia — Growing up in a conservative Muslim household in rural West Sumatra, Alexander Aan hid a dark secret beginning at age 9: He did not believe in God. His feelings only hardened as he got older and he faked his way through daily prayers, Islamic holidays and the fasting month of Ramadan.
He stopped praying in 2008, when he was 26, and he finally told his parents and three younger siblings that he was an atheist — a rare revelation in a country like Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. They responded with disappointment and expressions of hope that he would return to Islam.
But Mr. Aan neither returned to Islam nor confined his secret to his family, and he ended up in prison after running afoul of a 2008 law restricting electronic communications. He had joined an atheist Facebook group started by Indonesians living in the Netherlands, and in 2011 he began posting commentaries outlining why he did not think God existed.
“When I saw, with my own eyes, poor people, people on television caught up in war, people who were hungry or ill, it made me uncomfortable,” Mr. Aan, now 32, said in an interview. “What is the meaning of this? As a Muslim, I had questioned God — what is the meaning of God?” He was released on parole on Jan. 27 after serving more than 19 months on a charge of inciting religious hatred.
BERLIN — A German court has rejected a Muslim student’s lawsuit against a vocational school’s ban on wearing face-covering veils in class.
The Bavarian Administrative Court said Friday the school’s ban didn’t infringe illegally on the right of the student to exercise her religious rights freely.
The student, whom the court didn’t identify in keeping with German privacy rules, saw her admission to the state-run school revoked last year when she refused to attend classes without a face-covering niqab.
The court found that teaching requires “open communication” that includes facial expressions and body language. It said that, if a student wears a face-covering veil, “nonverbal communication is essentially prevented.”
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Source: Washington Post
A new group has been launched at the House of Lords to campaign for greater recognition of the threat posed by Islamic Sharia law. Sharia Watch UK says it wants to highlight the impact of Islamism in Britain and campaign against the prevalence of Sharia tribunals, particularly where it relates to women's rights. VoR's Tim Ecott spoke to Anne Marie Waters, spokesperson for Sharia Watch, and to Aina Khan, a solicitor in London who specialises in applying Sharia law within the English legal system.
“Our aim is quite simply to tell the truth," says Waters. "There is a large lack of knowledge of what Sharia Law actually stands for, what it does to women, how it treats women. And our aim is simply to tell the public – warts and all – what Sharia is: its views of women, its views of free speech, its threat to democracy, how it is operating in Britain, the organisations behind it and what their agendas are, and, indeed, the public support that such organisations receive from public figures.
Where do you see the threat coming from?
“It’s acceptance of it by the mainstream, that is a huge issue. If you look at what Sharia says about women, for example, it essentially advocates the slavery of women. If you strip it away and bear it down, that’s what it is, it’s the slavery of women, it’s the ownership of women. It degrades and humiliates women and yet it is accepted by the mainstream and supported by mainstream figures."