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Israel & Palestinian Territories Hit 6-Year High in Religious Hostilities

Religious hostilities are very high and rising within both Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to a 2014 Pew Research study, social hostilities involving religion (including mob or sectarian violence, religion-related terrorism or conflict, organized attempts to dominate public life with a particular perspective on religion, harassment over attire for religious reasons, and other religion-related intimidation or abuse) have reached 6-year highs in both areas.

Pew uses a tool called the Social Hostilities Index (SHI) to measure social hostilities by country.  The tool measures the presence and intensity of various measures of social hostility on a scale from 0 (no social hostilities) to 10 (all-out civil anarchy).  According to the report, Israel reached a high of 9.4 out of 10 on the Pew Social Hostilities Index in regards to religious violence in 2012.  The Palestinian Territories reached a high of 9.0 out of 10.  This is in comparison to the Middle East & North Africa, which rated at 5.7 out of 10 in 2012; and in comparison to the world, which rated at 2.9 on the Index.

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Faith Killing: The consequences of rejecting modern medicine and trusting in God for healing

WRITTEN BY JO STEPHANIE, AAI NEWS TEAM

In late November 2013 a woman from Kitwe, Zambia’s second largest city, died from pneumonia after allegedly following the advice of her pastor to stop taking her medication. Rather than advise the woman in question to continue taking her medication he recommended that she instead pray and fast. Faith healing was the solution he suggested, not medicine. The woman obliged and four days later she was dead.

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Ben Baz Released from Prison

Abdel Aziz Mohamed Albaz, also known as "Ben Baz," has been released from prison in Kuwait where he was held (but never tried) on charges of blasphemy for over a year.

Albaz, a 27-year-old Egyptian atheist blogger, was arrested in early January 2013 by Kuwaiti authorities. While Albaz had been known for posting on his blog stories of the relationship between religion, the State and secularism.  The Constitution of Kuwait makes Islam the state religion, and considers Sharia a primary source of legislation. The Kuwaiti parliament passed a law in 2012 introducing the death penalty for Muslims who blaspheme against Islam, while non-Muslims who blaspheme faced ten years or more in prison. The law provides that any Muslim(!) citizen may file a complaint against an author if the citizen believes that the author has defamed Islam, the ruling family, or public morals.

A hearing on Albaz' case had been scheduled for last February 28, but it's unclear what was decided at the hearing or even whether the hearing actually occurred. After a year, Kuwaiti authorities have apparently let him out on his own recognizance - of course, long after he would have lost his job and probably his residence, and without any due process

Alex Aan Released from Prison

Religious Prisoner Alexander Aan Released From Indonesian Prison

The Jakarta News reported on 31 January that atheist Alexander Aan had been released early from his prison sentence of 2-1/2 years for "inciting religious hostility" for posting on his personal Facebook page that "there is no god."

According to the article,  Aan was released "on license" (probation), which means that he is required to report regularly and frequently to Indonesian authorities for the foreseeable future. He also still remains liable for a Rp 100 million rupiah (US$8,190) fine imposed as part of his sentence.

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Saudi Blogger & Activist To be Tried for Apostasy

On 25 December 2013, a Saudi judge recommended that a liberal activist and blogger Raef Badawi be tried again in a higher court for apostasy - a charge that could carry the death penalty, rights campaigners say.

Raef Badawi was already convicted and sentenced in the ultra-conservative kingdom in July to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for setting up a "liberal" network and for allegedly insulting Islam.

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Christian Zealots within the Republican Party

 Christian Zealots within the Republican Party

 

WRITTEN BY R. CLEVENGER, AAI NEWS TEAM

 

The Christian zealots, who gained control of many government seats with the Tea Party push back in 2010, are taking stands and actively impeding progress toward acceptance and tolerance across the U.S. and replacing it with biblical-based intolerance.

 

In my home state of Pennsylvania, there is a bill that has been brought forth by Rep. Rick Saccone, a republican from Allegheny County, that would force every public school in the state to display “In God We Trust” upon a plaque or through the display of student artwork on school property. This is an obvious attempt to propagate their religious beliefs onto young, developing minds before they reach the age of reason. Just as churches target youth and those who are vulnerable and in need, the Republicans are misusing their offices to further their religious views.

 

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AAI & PATAS Coordinate Typhoon Relief Efforts


In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, the largest typhoon on record, barrelling through the Philippines, Atheist Alliance International and our Philippines affiliate, Philippines Atheists and Agnostics Society, have teamed up to provide disaster relief to the typhoon-stricken communities on the islands of Leyta and Cebu.

For more information on the program as well as donating, visit this page.

Top Religious Influence Stores of 2013

Religion continued to wield undue influence in world culture and politics, with a number of seismic shifts felt throughout 2013. Here are the top stories of 2013 noted by Atheist Alliance International:

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Primate Pride Day

 PRIMATE PRIDE DAY –

With great pleasure we celebrated the Primate Pride Day, as a latinoamerican initiative proposed by the web Sindioses since 2010. 24th of November was chosen as the date in which we remember the 154th anniversary of the official release of “On the Origin of the Species” and the 39th anniversary of the discovery of Lucy, the Australopithecus: two landmarks that not only changed our view of the world but gave way to a thought revolution that continues to our days, both admired and criticized.

The Asociación de Ateos y Agnósticos del Atlántico (and the Fundación Bacanería Planetaria) decided to organize an event this Saturday 23th with a divulgation conference showing the pride we feel about our evolutive origins, looking to share the facts with the general public and state our disagreement with the creacionist explanations that wish to belittle the scientific view, trying to put themselves at the same level.

Our celebration was a pleasant afternoon in which we reflected about our nature and place in society through the talks of Juan Torres Castellar (The evidence of evolution), Luis Felipe Zapata (Homosexuality: A evolutionist and psychobiologic view) and Jorge Senior (Science, Religion and Democracy), to whom we are grateful for sharing their knowledge with us. We also gave away some prizes and ate some bananas at coffee break!

See you again next year!

 

Circumcision and the rights of the child

 Circumcision and the rights of the child


Circumcision has long been a cultural and health related practice, possibly dating back 15,000 years. Theories as to its origin include identifying slaves, hygiene, a rite of passage to adulthood and a sign of membership within a group. In recent times it has been suggested as an aid to preventing the spread of HIV in adult men, and in Victorian times as a cure for almost any illness, including epilepsy and insanity. The most widespread reason for circumcision now is a child or infant’s rite of passage into a religion.

One person who opposes circumcision for children and infants is Fredrik Malmberg, Sweden’s Ombudsman for Children. According to Malmberg, circumcision violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, and there is no sound basis for it to be carried out on children. His argument is based on the lack of medical justification, the suffering of the child and their inability to consent.

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Eid ul Adha: Sacrifice for a Psychotic God

It's that time of the year again when the streets are bloody and meat is eaten like there's no tomorrow. It's Eid ul Adha - the Islamic festival of animal sacrifice.

The ritual has its origin in the Koran when Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his most beloved son, Ismael. When Ismael was about 13, God tried to test Abraham's faith. He showed up in Abraham's dream and commanded him to sacrifice Ismael, who was born after many years of prayers.  

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