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Embrace of Atheism Put an Indonesian in Prison

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.

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Dutch Muslim rapper: ‘I hate Jews more than Hitler,’ ‘don’t shake hands with f**gots’

He calls himself Ismo. His real name is Ismael Houllich, but you’ll probably think of a more fitting name for him after you hear about his “music.” The Blaze writes that one of his songs (titled “Eenmans,” or “One Man’s”) contains the lyrics “I hate those f**king Jews more than the Nazis,” “don’t shake hands with f**gots,” and “don’t believe in anything but the Quran.”

The news service Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports that Dutch police are investigating after a gay citizen filed a complaint that the lyrics incite hatred.

The Netherlands news site Algemeen Dagblad reported on Friday that a 19-year-old resident of the city in which the video clip was filmed named Lars Hobma filed the police complaint which prompted the investigation.

So what does Ismo have to say for himself? He insists it is a bad rap (pun intended). From a statement he released to the regional radio station Omroep Brabant:

They are trying to twist my words against me. I don’t hate all Jews. I hate only Zionist Jews that made Palestine smaller than my neighborhood.

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German court upholds school ban on facial veil

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.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 Source: Washington Post 

Vow of Freedom of Religion Goes Unkept in Egypt

CAIRO — The architects of the military takeover in Egypt promised a new era of tolerance and pluralism when they deposed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood last summer.

Nine months later, though, Egypt’s freethinkers and religious minorities are still waiting for the new leadership to deliver on that promise. Having suppressed Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters, the new military-backed government has fallen back into patterns of sectarianism that have prevailed here for decades.

Prosecutors continue to jail Coptic Christians, Shiite Muslims and atheists on charges of contempt of religion. A panel of Muslim scholars has cited authority granted under the new military-backed Constitution to block screenings of the Hollywood blockbuster “Noah” because it violates an Islamic prohibition against depictions of the prophets.

The military leader behind the takeover, Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, often appeals to the Muslim majority in a language of shared piety that recalls Anwar el-Sadat, nicknamed the believer president, who invoked religious authority to bolster his legitimacy and inscribed into the Constitution the principles of Islamic law.

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Secularism — the BJP’s greatest enemy

The BJP, in political terms, is not a political organisation; it is a socio-religious platform devoted to the promotion of Hindu culture and religion

The largest democracy in the world is at work again. Over 845 million voters are exercising their right of franchise one more time. The electoral exercise will continue till May 9. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Indian National Congress, and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are the major contenders for power. Congress has been in power many times since India gained independence. Over this period it lost some popular support and leaned on regional parties to help rule the country. When support from regional parties plummeted in 1998, a coalition led by the BJP emerged as the stronger and came to power in New Delhi that year. Its victory sparked a wave of anxiety amongst Muslims in India. Neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan and Bangladesh, felt concerned about their bilateral relations with India. The BJP is now poised to come to power again.

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US Government Promoting Islam in Czech Republic

More recently, Muslims in the Czech Republic have tried to ban a book they say is Islamophobic, and have filed a ten-page criminal complaint against its formerly-Muslim author.

The Czech government has approved a new project aimed at promoting Islam in public elementary and secondary schools across the country.

The project—Muslims in the Eyes of Czech Schoolchildren—is being spearheaded by a Muslim advocacy group and is being financed by American taxpayers through a grant from the US Embassy in Prague. (The US State Department is also promoting Islam in other European countries.)

The group says the Czech Ministry of Education has authorized it to organize lectures and seminars aimed at "teaching Czech schoolchildren about Islamic beliefs and practices" and at "fighting stereotypes and prejudices about Muslims."

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Croatian Bishop Says Godless PM Boosting Atheism

Catholic bishop criticizes atheist Prime Minister for not having gone to church on the day marking Croatian statehood on June 25.

Bishop Vlado Kosic of Sisak, said while presiding over a religious service that Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, a declared atheist, was deliberately promoting atheism.

“This is an attempt to violently promote atheism and anti-Catholicism in Croatian society,” Kosic said, referring to the Prime Minister's announcement that he and other non-religious ministers would not be going to church on the day marking Croatian statehood.

“They should be in church together with their religious people, since they are their representatives,” the bishop added.

Milanovic said that as an atheist he did not want to go to the church on state holidays, as Catholics in Croatia usually do, including all former Croatian presidents and prime ministers.

The Prime Minister's remarks made waves in Croatia, a predominantly Catholic country where almost 90 per cent of the population declare themselves as Catholics.

Death threats issued as Sharia Watch launches in London

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."

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Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster, with 'Pastafarian' followers, allowed to register as religion in Poland

'Pastafarians' in Poland unfurled a banner with the words ‘Do not fear the Monster!’ as a Warsaw court upheld their right to register as a religion. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is considered to be an atheistic caricature of orthodox religions.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, April 10, 2014, 4:12 PM
 

Poles Celebrate Religious Recognition of FSM

Pastafarians Pawel Ziemba, left, and Joanna Lewandowicz, right, pose with a knitted image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Pastafarians in Poland are rejoicing over a new ruling that lets their church apply to register as a religion.

Shouts of “pasta” filled the air outside a Warsaw court Tuesday as Judge Wlodzimierz Kowalczyk overturned a previous ruling that had banned the noodle worshippers from being recognized as an official faith community.

The judgment was based on a technicality, Polskie Radio reports. Kowalczyk said the group hadn’t been given a required two-month extension for submitting outstanding documents.

Despite the close call, the Pastafarians were happy about the win.

“Yesterday was filled with signs indicating the Monster’s goodwill,” the Polish group wrote, according to a translation obtained by Patheos. “The Monster’s followers spread out a banner on the stairs of the Court bearing the uplifting words “Do not fear the Monster!” and — following a tradition sanctified over centuries — repaired to a nearby restaurant for a bowl of spaghetti and a small beer.”

The Catholic Church in Poland has spoken out against the Pastafarians, claiming the movement is anti-Catholic provocation.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster started in the United States in 2005 as part of the backlash against the Kansas State Board of Education's decision to teach intelligent design in public schools.

Pastafarians say they believe the world was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster and take Friday as their religious holiday. Practioners insist their religious beliefs are genuine, although many consider the movement to be a caricature of orthodox religion.

Pastafarian prayers end with the word “R’amen,” a reference to both Japanese noodles and to the Christian “Amen.”

TOMASZ GZELL/EPA

Pastafarians in Poland are rejoicing over a new ruling that lets their church apply to register as a religion.

Shouts of “pasta” filled the air outside a Warsaw court Tuesday as Judge Wlodzimierz Kowalczyk overturned a previous ruling that had banned the noodle worshippers from being recognized as an official faith community.

The judgment was based on a technicality, Polskie Radio reports. Kowalczyk said the group hadn’t been given a required two-month extension for submitting outstanding documents.

Despite the close call, the Pastafarians were happy about the win.

“Yesterday was filled with signs indicating the Monster’s goodwill,” the Polish group wrote, according to a translation obtained by Patheos. “The Monster’s followers spread out a banner on the stairs of the Court bearing the uplifting words “Do not fear the Monster!” and — following a tradition sanctified over centuries — repaired to a nearby restaurant for a bowl of spaghetti and a small beer.”

The Catholic Church in Poland has spoken out against the Pastafarians, claiming the movement is anti-Catholic provocation.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster started in the United States in 2005 as part of the backlash against the Kansas State Board of Education's decision to teach intelligent design in public schools.

Pastafarians say they believe the world was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster and take Friday as their religious holiday. Practioners insist their religious beliefs are genuine, although many consider the movement to be a caricature of orthodox religion.

Pastafarian prayers end with the word “R’amen,” a reference to both Japanese noodles and to the Christian “Amen.”

In January, Pastafarian ‘minister’ Christopher Shaeffer was sworn into Pomfret, N.Y.’s Town Board while wearing a colander on his head.

 

An atheism association is founded . . . in Turkey

The locals of the association were opened in Istanbul's Kadıköy district. Agos Photo

The locals of the association were opened in Istanbul's Kadıköy district.

The first Atheism Association has been officially founded in Turkey, becoming a legal address in an effort to stand up for the rights of atheists in the country, daily Radikal has reported.

“No atheists will be alone anymore, either on the streets or in courts,” the association said via its official Twitter account.

It also invited “everyone who wants to meet or be a member” to its office, located in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district.

In an interview with daily Agos last month, the founders of the Initiative of Atheism Association, Tolga İnci and Ahmet Balyemez, said they thought there should be a place to provide legal support to people facing problems as atheists.

“Even saying ‘I am an atheist’ has begun to mean an insult to Islam in Turkey. The prime minister’s remarks that ‘every atheist is a terrorist’ are being taken as normal,” they said in the interview. “We need to say ‘we are here’ as atheists ... We are not related to any ideology. We want to approach atheism scientifically, not ideologically.”

'I have to help the people of Bangladesh'

Asif Mohiuddin is one of Bangladesh's most famous bloggers. As an open atheist in a mainly Islamic country, he has been attacked and thrown in jail for his beliefs. DW caught up with him after his recent move to Germany.

 In addition to being an active blogger, Asif Mohiuddin co-founded the Shahbag movement in Bangladesh, which has been arguing for the strict division of state and religion in the country, as well as justice for victims of Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence.

Mohiuddin recently arrived in Germany on a one-year scholarship. He says that living in Germany now means he can walk the streets safely. But still, he says, he has to keep his location secret.

DW: What did you write on your blog that was so offensive? Can you give us examples of what it might be that Islamists found so blasphemous?

Asif Mohiuddin: I wrote a blog entry about women's rights which caused problems. In the Koran, Chapter 4, Verse 34, it says that a man can beat his wife, if she doesn't obey her husband. I criticized that because in modern civilization there is no place for hitting anybody. Also, according to Sharia law, if someone leaves Islam, then that person has to be killed. I don't think that is a good thing, so I criticized that. And that is why people got angry.

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