Iceland makes blasphemy legal

According to The Telegraph, Iceland's parliament on Friday voted widely in favour of decriminalising blasphemy, in the name of freedom of expression in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.
The bill was adopted after 43 of 63 members of parliament voted in favour. One lawmaker voted against, 16 were absent and three abstained.
The bill had been put forward by the Pirate Party in February, after the January attacks in which 12 people were gunned down in the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
"Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of democracy. It is a fundamental point in a free society that people can express themselves without fear of punishment of any kind, whether on behalf of the authorities or others," the Pirate Party said in presenting its bill.

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Islamic State 'murders 25 men in Palmyra'

A video apparently released by the Islamic State group shows 25 men being shot dead in the ancient city of Palmyra, in Syria.
150704184824 f 624x351 afpAccording to BBC, IS said the men were soldiers captured in the city of Homs. They were shot dead inside Palmyra's amphitheatre.
Stills from the video showed the killers to be young males, possibly even as young as 13 or 14.
IS captured Palmyra and the neighbouring modern city, locally known as Tadmur, in late May.
The video was distributed by accounts known to be linked with Islamic State militants. It is not clear when it was filmed.
The killings took place on a stage in the amphitheatre in front of a large black IS flag.

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Catholic Church in Norway ordered to pay $5.1 million for fraud

OSLO, Norway, According to UPI, The Catholic Church is appealing a claim from government officials in Oslo, Norway that the church pay $5.1 million in compensation for participating in fraudulent practices.
The Oslo diocese, its bishop and its financial officer are accused of fraudulently registering thousands of people on its membership lists as to receive greater subsidies from the government.
Norway, predominantly Protestant, permits religious organizations to apply for andreceive federal subsidies based on their membership amounts.
The Olso diocese registered about 65,500 new members between 2010 and 2014 and more than 56,500 people of that total were registered under disputed methods, according to Olso government officials. The diocese received more than $6 million in national subsidies during that time.

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Iranian actor apologises after tweeting support for US gay marriage ruling

Bahram Radan deleted tweet in support of US supreme court decision after criticism from hardline media and homophobic abuse
According to The Guardian, a leading Iranian actor has apologised after coming under pressure over a tweet he posted in support of a historic US supreme court ruling on gay marriage.
Bahram Radan, who is known as the Iranian Brad Pitt, created controversy in the country when his tweet hailed a verdict last week which made same-sex marriage a legal right across the entirety of the US. Homosexuality remains a taboo subject inside the Islamic republic and is punishable by death.
"The US supreme court's ruling that same-sex marriage is legal was historic, perhaps on the scale of the end of slavery ... from Lincoln to Obama," the award-winning actor tweeted in Persian at the weekend.
But within a few hours, after many users bombarded him with homophobic abuse and hardline media criticised him, Radan deleted the tweet.

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South Sudan conflict: Army 'raped and torched girls'

South Sudan's army and allied militias "abducted, torched and gang-raped girls" during fighting against rebel forces, a UN report says.
 83945914 dbfaf022-4c21-418b-9abb-10e7b9e3399bAccording to BBC, investigators found that at least 172 women and girls were abducted and subjected to sexual violence, it added.
One woman was "dragged out of her hut and gang-raped in front of her three-year old child", the report said.
The government denies its army has committed atrocities but says it will study the report.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) said abuses during the 18-month civil war had reached a new scale of intensity and horror in recent fighting in the oil-producing Unity State.

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"I know that not all Christians are right-wing extremist terrorists, but why are all right-wing extremist terrorists Christians?"
This is the question I'm never asked. But as somebody who actually knows something about Islam and about the complex history of Muslim relations with Jews and Christians, I am often asked the following: "I know that not all Muslims are terrorists, but why are all terrorists Muslim?"
Last week, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Columbia, walked into a study session at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. After sitting for an hour he shot nearly everybody at the meeting. That was an act of terror. He was not a Muslim. As far as we know he was acting alone, like the Tsarnaev brothers, though both were undoubtedly influenced by organized groups through social media and other electronic sources. Was Christianity the motivation for Roof's brutal violence?
One could make the case. The Christian Crusades were a violent European military movement directed not only against infidels, but against people of color living outside the boundaries of Europe. That's a parallel to the argument that I often hear among non-Muslims that Muslims were bent on a violent conquest against all infidels. But more to the point, many of the white supremacist groups in the US are united under the banner of "Christian Unity," while the Ku Klux Klan websiteclaims that its "better way" is "the Christian way."

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Texas pastor threatens to set himself on fire to stop gays from marrying

According to Pink News; a US pastor has threatened to set himself on fire to stop loving gay couples from being legally recognized.
Texas pastor Rick Scarborough made the claim ahead of an anticipated ruling from the Supreme Court later this month – which could bring same-sex marriage to all 50 states including Texas.
One-upping the Australian Christian couple who have threatened to divorce if the ban on same-sex marriage is lifted, the Texan appeared to threaten to burn himself alive.
He said: "We're simply being pre-emptive and saying, no matter what the cost, we are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and we will burn."
The preacher also claimed that religious leaders should offer themselves up to be shot dead.

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More details about France beheading attack: Police question suspect

Police in France are still questioning a man suspected of carrying out an attack on a factory near Lyon, in which a man was found decapitated.
According to BBC, Yassin Salhi, 35, caused an explosion by ramming his car into an area containing flammable liquids, prosecutors say.
His boss, the owner of a delivery firm, was found beheaded alongside flags with Arabic inscriptions.
President Francois Hollande is holding a security meeting with ministers.
Yassin Sahli had been investigated in the past about his alleged links with Islamist militants.
France is on its highest state of alert after the attack in the small town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier some 40km (25 miles) from Lyon.

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