Eddie Izzard will run for London mayor as fearless atheist

By DOUG ELFMAN - LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

American politicians who aren’t religious may claim they are, out of fear or pandering. But comedian Eddie Izzard will run for mayor of London an an atheist, and he expects no fallout.

That’s because Brits aren’t so religiously punishing to candidates now, partly because World War II killed millions of people and many people’s faith, Izzard said.

“We had a Second World War happen on our land mass. Of the 50 million that died, probably about 35 million died” in the region, he said. “And I think we noticed God wasn’t there or didn’t care.”

What happens when atheists (including me) don’t believe in deities?

“We still believe in people. I believe in human beings. Whenever there’s a disaster, human beings stand up. (Charities) stand up,” Izzard said. “Zero gods have ever stood up for a disaster.”

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British tourist Eleanor Hawkins arrested for naked photo on top of Malaysian mountain

According to Telegraph, a British woman arrested in Malaysia for posing naked on top of a sacred mountain has been named as Eleanor Hawkins, a former independent school head girl.

The 24-year-old, who had recently graduated with a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from Southampton University, was detained on Tuesday at Tawau airport, as she was flying out from the island of Borneo to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Three others were also arrested on Tuesday after handing themselves in: 23-year-old Canadian Lindsey Peterson and his sister Danielle, 22, and a 23-year-old Dutch man, Dylan Snel.

Other members of the group were being sought by Malaysian police.

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Saudi Arabia hosts UN-backed human rights summit 'on combating religious discrimination'

saudi-conference-v2According to Independent, Saudi Arabia has hosted an international conference on human rights, attended by the president of the UN Human Rights Council, and resolved to combat intolerance and violence based on religious belief.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) - which has its headquarters in Jeddah - convened the fifth annual meeting of the Istanbul Process as the kingdom's Supreme Court preparedto rule on the case of blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through religious channels”. It later upheld the sentence.

The UN HRC recently faced criticism over Saudi plans to head up the council from 2016, in what critics said would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the international body.

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Egypt’s Council of Churches organizes conference to ‘counter atheism’

According to the Cairo Post, the Council of Churches will organize a Cairo conference to “counter atheism in Egypt” June 16, Youm7 reported Tuesday.

 

Under the slogan of “Church Facing Atheism,” the council has invited all Egyptian churches’ patrons and priests to the conference, which will be held in the Jesuits’ Saint Family school in Cairo.

 

Representatives from the Orthodox and Catholic churches will deliver speeches at the conference, including a speech on atheism from a scientific perspective. Workshops for priests will be organized to conclude recommendations after the conference.

 

Egypt’s Council of Churches was established in February 2013 and includes five churches; the Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical (Presbyterian), Greek Orthodox and Anglican Churches.

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott...

Australia Atheists
Dear Prime Minister Tony Abbott,
 
I just read an article about how you want to cut funding to universities by 20% and spend more money training priests. Under your proposed higher education reforms:
 
"Religious teaching, training and vocational institutes would be eligible for a share of $820 million in new Commonwealth funding over three years". 
 
I'm not sure how much it costs to educate a man of God, but $820 million sounds like quite a lot. Now, I know you guys are in a fair bit of debt at the moment, so I've come up with a solution to help you out. 
 
Read Full Open Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott by Rich Wisken:

India: Man beheaded in ritual sacrifice for a better harvest

According to International Business Times, the Indian police are investigating the death of a 55-year-old man beheaded in what is thought to be a ritual sacrifice intended to conjure up a better harvest. 

The headless corpse of Thepa Kharia was found in his house in a remote village in the state of Jharkhand, eastern India. 

 Kharia's brother told police that a group of occultists, known as Orkas, decapitated the man after breaking in his house in order to carry out a sacrifice calling for more rain and better crop yields. 

The Hindustan Times quoted Khana's brother as saying: "Orkas can be anyone, from farmers to tantriks. They bury the head in the field and expect that the sacrifice will yield good harvest for the community."

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Uneasy neighbors in Turkey: atheism and Islam

With the Islamic-conservative AKP set to lose its majority in Turkey's upcoming elections, dissenting voices have started to speak up. One of those is the country's only atheists' league. Sertan Sanderson reports. 

According to DW, the latest polls show that Turkey's President and former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may have to form a coalition government following the June 7 elections. In its unlucky 13th year in rule, Erdogan's AKP has suffered several image attacks in recent months, triggering defections among erstwhile supporters to other parties, especially within Turkey's minorities.

Among his opponents, a newly-formed group of "Istanbullu" - those born and raised in Istanbul - has grown steadily over the past year and now numbers around 150 individuals across Turkey. Without a party-political agenda, the country's first official atheism league, Ateizm Dernegi, says that it wants to create a platform for like-minded people amid the AKP-driven climate of political Islam.

"Being an atheist in Turkey is not exactly a desirable label. We few are wearing it proudly and we refuse to be silenced by the fear and threats," Morgan Romano, vice-president of the association, said at the group's first public conference in Germany on Sunday.

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سياسة واقتصاد طبول حملات دينية رسمية تُقرع على "الإلحاد" في مص

هم فئة من المصريين الذين لا يؤمنون بالدين، يعتبرون أنفسهم "ملحدين"، صفة جعلتهم في مهب حملات دينية تصدرتها الجماعات الإسلامية إثر ثورة 25 يناير.والآن في ظل حكم السيسي يبدو أنهم باتوا "خطرا" لا يقل عن الإخوان المسلمين!
 

أحمد حرقان، في الأربعينات من عمره، أمضى أكثر من نصف حياته في دراسة الشريعة الإسلامية والتخصص فيها، وهو يعتبر نفسه"ملحدا"، يفضل أحمد كما يقول في كثير من الأحيان إخفاء أفكاره وتفادي الدخول في جدل مع أصدقائه وزملائه في العمل حول القضايا الدينية، لأنه كما يقول يخشى على حياته، فقد تعرض أكثر من مرة للتهديد بالقتل، كما يؤكد.

يقول حرقان، إنهم كثيرون وربما يصل عددهم الملايين في مصر، الذين يمكن اعتبارهم ملحدين ولا يؤمنون بالدين. وهو رقم يصعب التحقق منه في ظل غياب إحصاءات علمية حول الموضوع. ومنذ ثورة 25 يناير بدأت ملامح حياة هذه الفئة تتغير بشكل جذري، نتيجة عوامل كثيرة، أبرزها جرأتهم على التعبير عن أفكارهم وبالمقابل تسليط الأضواء عليهم من قبل جماعات إسلامية متشددة، وسرعان من يتحول الجدل حولهم إلى حملات تكفير تستهدفهم. كما يقول نشطاء يعتبرون أنفسهم ملحدين على غرار حرقان.

TV presenter given 5 years imprisonment for blasphemy

According to Daily News Egypt, The Old Cairo Misdemeanour Court handed Saturday a five year prison sentence to TV presenter Islam El-Behiry for blasphemy.

A lawyer filed a lawsuit against El-Behiry, saying he led a campaign through his TV show to attack Muslim scholars and Islamic teachings’ textbooks.

El-Behiry has been hosting a programme that questions the teachings of Salafi preachers. In many of his episodes, he provides clips of famous and much respected Salafi preachers, and criticises their religious arguments.

The independent researcher also calls for disregarding ancient interpretations of the Qur’an and preaches individual understanding of the text.

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