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A country where liberal journalists risk death

According to BBC, the life of a liberal journalist in Pakistan is not an easy one. Write about someone fighting a blasphemy case, or someone whose faith is considered heresy, and you may very soon find yourself in deep trouble.

Shoaib Adil, a 49-year-old magazine editor and publisher in Lahore, has many well-wishers and they all want him to disappear from public life or, even better, leave the country.

Since blasphemy charges were filed against him last month, the police have told him that he can't return home, he can't even be seen in the city where he grew up and worked all his life. It wouldn't be safe.

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Egypt campaigns against atheism

According to Al-Monitor, the Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowment), in partnership with the Ministry of Sports and Youth in Egypt, has begun a national campaign to fight the presumed spread of atheism among youth.

Thus, those state departments decided to break into the world of atheists without having the slightest information that would allow them to control this phenomenon in any possible way.

Both Sheikh Ahmad Turk, director of mosques at the Ministry of Awqaf and in charge of the campaign against atheism, and Nuamat Sati, who is in charge of the campaign at the Ministry of Youth, told Al-Monitor that the spread of the phenomenon of atheism, specifically among youth, is what pushed the ministries to undertake this campaign today.

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An Iraqi Group Helping Women and Gays Is Receiving Death Threats

By Jacob Siegel

According to The Daily Beast, Religious groups are threatening to kill the members one of the few Iraqi organizations dedicated to helping women and gays.

Dalal Jumaa, member of  the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq said “This morning they called and said if you do not move from this house we will kill you.”

It was the police who phoned the organization Sunday morning, she said. They told her they had heard she harbored gay men and runaway girls. But the threat, which the police were relaying, came from Asaib Ahl al Haq, a powerful and notoriously brutal Shia militia in Baghdad. “I cannot stop Asaib Ahl al Haq,” the policeman told her, “they received this information and will kill you if you don’t leave.”

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Children Exposed To Religion Have Difficulty Distinguishing Fact From Fiction, Study Finds

The Huffington Post  | By Shadee Ashtari

Young children who are exposed to religion have a hard time differentiating between fact and fiction, according to a new study published in the July issue of Cognitive Science.

Researchers presented 5- and 6-year-old children from both public and parochial schools with three different types of stories -- religious, fantastical and realistic –- in an effort to gauge how well they could identify narratives with impossible elements as fictional.

The study found that, of the 66 participants, children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school were significantly less able than secular children to identify supernatural elements, such as talking animals, as fictional.

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Islamic State takes up stoning in Syria

Activists say the Al-Qaeda breakaway group stoned a woman to death for adultery in an incident shrouded in 'mystery'

According to aljazeera, fighters from Al-Qaeda-breakaway group the Islamic State have stoned a woman to death for adultery, in the first such execution of its kind in rebel-held northern Syria.

The stoning, first reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and confirmed to Al Jazeera by two activists, took place in a public square Thursday evening in the town of Tabaqa, Raqqa province. Activists said the woman was tried in an Islamic sharia court, but that witnesses to her alleged offense were never identified and that the man involved was not charged with any crime.

“Mystery surrounds the whole thing,” said Abu Khalil, an activist in Raqqa who runs the anti-Islamic State group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, which obtained a cell phone photograph that purports to depict the incident.

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Pakistani Man Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy

Photo: AP

According to VOA, a court in Pakistan has sentenced a man to death on blasphemy charges.

Lawyers say a judge in the eastern city of Lahore rejected Mohammad Zulfiqar's defense of mental illness and convicted him for violating the country's blasphemy laws of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Zulfiqar was arrested for reportedly writing derogatory language against the Prophet on the walls of a public park in the Islampura area of Lahore in April of 2008.

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China’s Ambiguous Atheism

WRITTEN BY MICKEY KEENAN AND MARK KOLSEN, GUEST WRITERS OF AAI NEWS TEAM

In a country that suppresses all forms of religious discussion, “scientific” studies about religion in China are almost impossible to conduct. The internet does, however, permit some measurement of Chinese religious sentiment, though even on the net Chinese citizens may be reluctant to speak openly.

What follows is one recent non-scientific study conducted by a courageous Chinese citizen who also interviewed several local experts on the subject. Her findings seem consistent with available sources on the subject.

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Creationist Ken Ham calls to end space program because aliens are going to hell anyway


Creationist Ken Ham has said that the U.S. space program is a waste of money because any alien life that scientists found would be damned to hell.

“I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life,” Ham wrote in the Christian website called Answers in Genesis.

According to The Raw Story, Ham argued that “secularists are desperate to find life in outer space” as a part of their “rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution.”

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Muslim group seeks blasphemy charge against Indonesian newspaper

According to UCA News, an Indonesian Muslim group filed a complaint yesterday against an English-language newspaper which it has accused of blasphemy for an editorial cartoon in its July 3 print edition.

The Jakarta Post cartoon criticized the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has reportedly committed executions and other acts of violence in Iraq. The cartoon's phrase "La ilaha illallaah" (there is no God but God) was presented on a flag with a skull, which is typically identified with pirates.

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“Africa Has Too Much Religion”: the Amazing Journey of John Adewoye

WRITTEN BY MARK KOLSEN, GUEST WRITER OF AAI NEWS TEAM

John Adowye’s story is almost unbelievable. A gay Catholic priest who could never overcome his fear of hell, he left Nigeria for the United States, hoping he could turn straight. After three futile years, John not only has accepted his sexual orientation but has become a strong, critical voice of religious oppression.

A gay Nigerian boy who enrolled in seminary and became a priest to escape bullying? Who didn’t grasp Catholicism’s anti-gay doctrine until the age of 22? And who, fearing the fires of hell, immigrated to the United States after reading an Exodus pamphlet promising him he could “convert” from gay to straight? Yet, a Nigerian who today says, “Africa has too much religion”?

John Adewoye’s life story includes these, and many other, remarkable events.

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The Catholic Church still does not get child abuse

By Jacky Jones

The conviction of Rolf Harris is a reminder that child abuse is an abuse of power. The crime persists because perpetrators are not challenged and dealt with speedily by the criminal justice system. Children are still abused in Ireland every day.

According to the article by Irish Times, the HSE Annual Report 2013 shows that 6,462 children were in care at the end of 2013 and 1,547 children were on the Child Protection Notification system.

The HSE expects to receive about 40,000 referrals to the Child and Family Agency in 2014. Between April 2013 and the end of March 2014, 164 allegations were made against priests and religious to the National Board for Safeguarding Children.

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