Created on Friday, 04 April 2014 13:10
The situation of a British woman who has been locked up in Iran for five months over claims she posted derogatory comments about the country’s government on Facebook is “very worrying”, her local MP has said.
Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, 47, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was arrested in the south-western city of Shiraz last year for “insulting Islamic sanctities”, a crime which can be punishable by death. According to her husband, who is also British, she made a series of statements online about life in Iran before being detained.
Created on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 21:59
Atheist are being defined as terrorists under a raft of new Saudi Arabian laws, a report from Human Rights Watch states.
The new laws are accompanied by a series of related royal decrees which appear to criminalize virtually all dissident thought or expression as terrorism.
“Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.
Created on Sunday, 30 March 2014 15:27
A new worldwide study by Pew Research
demonstrates a strong correlations between poverty, age and educational disadvantage with the assumption that belief in a god is necessary for morality.
The study analyses data from more than than 40,000 people in 40 countries who were asked: “Do you need God to be moral?”. It found that citizens of poorer countries are far more likely to assume that belief in a god is a requirement for morality. In the wealthier countries of Europe and Asia high proportions of people reject the notion that God is necessary for morality, while Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East (with the exception of Israel) show much stronger opinions that goodness requires godliness. Much of Latin America is also in line with this view. The US however remains an exception and an enigma. 53% of Americans surveyed consider belief in god necessry for morality, this being far more than the citizens of any European country surveyed and far more than the Canadians surveyed, of whom only 31% felt goodness requires godliness.
Not surprisingly, the study also found significant divides based on age and education, particularly in Europe and North America. In general, individuals age 50 or older and those without a college education are much more likely to link morality to religion. In the U.S. for example, a majority of individuals without a college degree (59%) say faith is essential to be a moral person, while only 37% of college graduates say the same.
Created on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:16
BY CLEOSLICK EMILY, AAI NEWS TEAM
suspected to be Boko Haram members have attacked and killed dozens of students at the Federal
Government College in Buni Yadi, a town in the Nigerian state of Yobe. Yobe
state Police Commissioner Sanusi A Rufai confirmed that twenty-nine male students were
killed and twenty-four structures including the administration block, student
hostel and staff quarters were burnt down.
Boko Haram is a militant group known for
attacking citizens, government targets, bombing churches, attacking schools and
police stations, and kidnapping Western tourists. Former Boko Haram leader,
Mohammed Yusuf stated before his death his belief that the fact of a spherical
Earth is contrary to Islamic teaching and should be rejected, along with
Darwinian evolution. He also stated his belief that the fact of rain
originating from water evaporated by the sun should never be taught in schools.
(Warning: Graphic photo included at end of article)
Created on Saturday, 08 March 2014 08:00
An Islamic Court in Nigeria Found Four Nigerians Guilty of "Homosexuality" and ordered flogged with horsewhips after conviction in a trial held in secret at the Upper Sharia Court in the Unguwar Jaki district of the city of Baluchi.
The four men, aged 22 to 28 years, each was and fined 20,000 naira ($125) and received 15 lashes - also in secret - immediately after the trial.
The four were among seven defendants formally charged by the Bauchi
State Sharia Commission on January 6 with belonging to a gay club and
receiving $150,000 in donations from the United States for an apparent
membership drive. After angry mobs swarmed the opening of the trial, demanding their immediate execution and forcing earlier proceedings to be suspended, the court decided to reconvene and hold the trial and carry out the sentence in secret.
The arrests and trial came only days after Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan had signed a bill banning gay marriage and same-sex unions and criminalising other actions deemed to be 'promoting' homosexuality. The law provides a maximum 14-year prison term for anyone entering same-sex unions and up to 10 years in jail for anyone supporting gay groups and clubs. Many believed the arrests were spurred by the new legislation, providing the Sharia
authorities with federal cover to target homosexual behavior.
Sharia law actually makes homosexual behavior a capital offense by stoning if the act is observed by four male witnesses or voluntarily confessed. However, the judge noted that since the alleged behavior was not actually observed by any witnesses to the court, there was no legal basis for passing the death sentence, despite confessions made by two of the defendants.
Created on Sunday, 23 February 2014 22:42
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.
Created on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 01:34
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
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
Created on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:04
BY R. CLEVENGER, AAI NEWS TEAM
Alabama House committee, despite majority opposition, without any regard to the
1st and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, and with complete disregard of McCollum v. Board of
passed a bill that would require public school
teachers to open class every morning with a prayer.
religiously biased politicians in this case have done an end-run to put
enforced prayer into public schools in the guise of teaching congressional
procedure. They are not invoking religious privilege or claiming discrimination
for not being allowed to pray within the confines of the school grounds in this
case, but rather are specifying a 15-minute period at the commencement of the
first class of each day to study the formal procedures of the U.S. Congress,
which must include a verbatim
reading of a prayer from the beginning of the House or Senate meetings.
Created on Thursday, 27 February 2014 04:04
The Pell tolls for church sex abuse compensation
Atheist Foundation of Australia welcomes the news that George Pell has
been promoted within the Catholic Church to the position of Prefect for
the Economy of the Holy See. A main function of this role is management
and reform of the Vatican's finances.
news continues to flow from the Royal Commission into Institutional
Child Sexual Abuse of the systemic cover ups and stand-over tactics used
by churches to prevent justice for the victims. It’s reasonable to
anticipate that examples of abuse of this type are going to continue to
become public and that the public outrage and compensation claims will
continue to grow.
Created on Friday, 21 February 2014 01:52
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.
Created on Monday, 03 February 2014 18:21
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.