BY Portia Crowe , Chicago Sun-Times
Since Syria’s conflict began in 2011, a stream of jihadist militants has travelled from Saudi Arabia to join rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al Assad. Although travelling fighters are a Saudi tradition going back to the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Saudi government worries that this time they may return home and take up arms against the monarchy.
So it was perhaps no surprise when the government this year criminalized the act of fighting in foreign conflicts, and named as “terrorist” several groups with which the Saudi jihadists identify: Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various factions of al-Qaida.
What was surprising was the inclusion of another group on the “terrorist” list: Saudi atheists. (join AAI petition and action against this law)
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki responded by asking parliament to declare a state of emergency after sunni militants with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) overrun Iraq’s second biggest city, Mosul.
The day's developments mean Isis now has effective control over three cities, including Falluja and Ramadi in neighbouring Anbar.
A rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that the U.S. military said it had quelled before withdrawing its forces in 2011, ISIS has been expanding its reach for months in Iraq and in Syria in pursuit of its goal of creating an Islamic state.
By Shahir ShahidSaless
President Hassan Rouhani's public battle with hard-line clerics over Iranians' route to heaven is symptomatic of the broader war he faces over his reform efforts.
In the last two weeks, the tit-for-tat exchanges between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his hard-line opponents have grabbed the headlines, not only inside Iran but around the world. Triggered by the arrest of six young Iranian men and women who had created a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy,” Rouhani remarked May 24 in a speech, “Do not interfere so much in people’s lives, even out of compassion. … Let people choose their own path to heaven. We cannot send people to heaven by force or a whip.”
Twitter has agreed to use its ‘Country Withheld Tool’ to block “blasphemous tweets” in Pakistan, thus becoming complicit in suppressing free speech, and in aiding Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Over the past month, Twitter accounts have been suspended and tweets have been blocked in Pakistan; a Twitter user has recently been jailed in Turkey for a “blasphemous” tweet. In Pakistan and other theocracy-based states, blasphemy laws are key tools used by those in power to actively persecute minorities. We urge Twitter and all other international companies and organizations to uphold human rights-based standards of conduct, particularly when it comes to freedom of expression.
We at Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) are committed to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19, pertaining to freedom of expression. Alongside AA, AHA, Black Non-Believers, Camp Quest, CFI, SHJ and other secular allies, we are organizing a day of protest on June 10th to highlight the role Twitter is playing in aiding and promoting anti-freedom, anti-human-rights, theocratic policies.
On June 10th, tweet hashtag #TwitterTheocracy and speak up about how Twitter has chosen to side with theocratic regimes instead of those who are trying to resist those regimes.