Criticising Catholicism in Ireland through art

Richard Wall is an Irish artist.  This is a short film about his life and work, including (in the later part of the film) his artwork criticising the Catholic Church for its influence on his country. 

Ambassador's death result of political use of religion, not simple mob mentality

This isn't really a story about a trailer for a movie. It's a story about the use of religion as a violently divisive political tool.

The hate has a direction, and it has a political purpose, grander than a Youtube video.

Late at night on September 11, an apparent riot over a Youtube clip of a movie mocking the Islamic prophet Muhammad turned into a full-scale assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. By the time the night ended, four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chrisopher Stevens, lay dead.

It's easy to draft the narrative, 'Dumb Muslims freak out over dumb movie.' But there's a more complex narrative in these protests and all of them. Really, we're seeing a dangerous and all-too-frequent tactic by government and paramilitary groups: using people's most prized cultural beliefs about life and death and good and evil as a control and manipulation tactic. In these cases, hate has been fomented by agitators with distinct political purposes. The tool they used is an old one: religious belief.

Ansar al-Sharia is a militia with ties to former Libyan ruler Muammar Ghadafi. Its goal is to establish a government based in the political application of religious law.

It may have been wishful thinking on the part of the Muslims with whom Chris Stephen of the Guardian spoke, but the people who were there don't remember anything like a typical protest. [1]  What they remember is a deliberate attack. Individuals carrying military-grade weaponry slipped through a mob creating chaos in order to assassinate an ambassador whose career ran parallel to the Libyan revolution to overthrow Ghadafi in 2011.

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The increasing role of religion in state schools in German-speaking countries endangers secularism

Image from Spiegel Online

With schools in more German-speaking countries moving to teach religion, as well as religious interest groups applying pressure for the increased importance of religion, especially Christianity, in public schools, there is an increased pressure on the separation of church and state.

In general Europe can be considered a fairly tolerant region regarding the freedom of religion and the freedom to have no religion. Most people in Europe are free to follow whatever religion they wish, or none.

However, it is not quite as simple as that, especially for atheists, as each religion takes advantage of its freedom, and seeks to ensure its own place in society, for example through a presence in public schools.

People’s rights to religious belief are taken seriously in Europe. In some cases, great lengths are taken to ensure religious freedom, and also that religion remains an important part of children’s lives.

A previous Atheist Alliance International story highlighted the influence of religion in German schools, how students are expected to study religion unless written permission is given to study ethics instead, and in particular how the Islamic faith may soon be expected to be taught in all schools in Hesse with at least eight Islamic children. [1]

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Egyptian atheist arrested for posting ‘Innocence of Muslims’ on Facebook

Originally published in the Examiner.

27-year-old atheist activist, Alber Saber was arrested in Cairo, Egypt after he posted the now infamous 14-minute trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslims” on the Facebook wall of his group, “Egyptians.Atheists.” Neighbors in his mostly Muslim community of el-Marg in eastern Cairo gathered in protest outside Saber’s home on Thursday and Friday with many calling for his death. According to his mother, one person shouted, “Why are we standing down here? Let’s go upstairs and get him.”

The 14-minute trailer for “Innocence of Muslims” has been blamed for protests and rioting against US embassies in Cairo and in other cities throughout the Middle-East. In Libya, the attacks have led to the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Alber Saber was arrested on Friday after his mother called the police out of fear of the crowd outside their home. Saber was arrested under the rarely used law that prohibits insulting religion. He was allegedly thrown in a crowded jail cell and the officer allegedly told those in the cell that Saber had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. There are reports that Saber has been attacked in the jail cell and according to one blog, his neck was slashed with a razorblade.

A Facebook page has been created to demand for Saber’s release. The “Free Alber Saber” Facebook page has over one thousand “likes” at the time of the publication of this article.

Islamic religious education in German State Hesse soon to be mandatory

Thanks to the group German Atheists [1] for translating this from the German media Welt Online [2].

WEISBADEN, GERMANY - The introduction of Islamic religious education is approaching the finishing line in the German state of Hesse. These faith-oriented classes could begin in the 2013-2014 school year, Nicole Beer, minister of education and cultural affairs in Wiesbaden, said in March.
In their 2009 coalition agreement, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) introduced faith-oriented religious education into state schools.  Students in many public schools already are required to attend classes about Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism, unless they receive permission to take a civics class instead. [3]
 
Beer said the religious education would take place in German; also, it would become a compulsory subject, determining whether students could move up grades. The CDU opposed adding the Islam classes.
 
According to an expert report, two Muslim regional associations, Ditib and Ahmadiyya, fulfill the necessary requirements.  Jörg Uwe Hahn, minister of integration and Hessian FDP chairman, said in March he has always compared the introduction of such a religious education with a marathon.  “Now Ditib and Ahmadiyya have reached the stadium again, but there are two or three more laps to run,” he said.  The final decision could be made towards the end of the summer holidays. 

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