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'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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The Vatican struggles to address child abuse allegations

Last week Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the damage done to children who have been abused by members of the clergy and asserted that sanctions must be imposed to tackle the problem of child abuse within the Church. It is the first time a pope has ever taken personal responsibility for the abuses committed by the Church’s priests.

In a speech made during a meeting with the International Catholic Child Bureau, a non-governmental child rights group, Pope Francis stated, “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children.”

The statement is being described as Pope Francis’ strongest stance on the issue thus far. It comes after a scathing United Nations report lambasted the Vatican earlier this year for failing to protect children from child abusers within its ranks and for turning a blind eye or covering up cases of molestation and rape over the decades.

Measures taken by the Church to stop child abuse

The Vatican confirmed in January that Pope Benedict XVI had defrocked almost 400 priests in a two-year period due to child abuse allegations. Since taking over the papal office Pope Francis has vowed to continue the changes instigated by his predecessor.

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Hate speeches in India expose Hindu nationalism's violent and fascist agenda

Indian American coalition calls on India's Election Commission to take decisive action; urges Hindu American Foundation to condemn hate speeches

Maryland, USA (April 22, 2014): The Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) today condemned statements by senior leaders of Hindu nationalist organizations, collectively known as the Sangh Parivar, openly inciting people to violence against religious minorities. These leaders also claimed that all Indians who are opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will be driven out of India into neighboring Pakistan after the ongoing parliamentary elections.

Hindu nationalism, also known as Hindutva, is a supremacist ideology that aims to establish a theocratic Hindu state in India. It is different from the religion of Hinduism which espouses pluralist traditions. The founding fathers of Hindutva visited Mossoulini's Italy to study Fascism and borrowed the concept of religious nationalism from Fascism and Nazism.

In a clear manifestation of the outlines of fascism driving the Hindutva supremacist movement, four senior Hindutva leaders - two from the BJP, another from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and the fourth from the Shiv Sena, unambiguously stated their position with regard to the fate of Modi's critics and that of India's 200 million religious minorities.

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Call to cut millions spent by NHS on religion

THE NHS is spending millions of pounds a year on running ­chaplaincy services which offer spiritual care and religious support to patients.

Health boards collectively spend about £3.7m a year on the internal departments, including paying salaries of full-time "generic" NHS chaplains who are tasked with providing support to all who ask for it.

In addition, the NHS has made payments of almost £600,000 to churches to attend to the religious needs of individual patients in the past three years, figures obtained by The Herald under Freedom of Information laws revealed.

More than 85% of spending on the external bodies went to the Roman Catholic Church, largely in exchange for priests to come in to hospitals and perform sacraments such as the last rites, which NHS chaplains are not able to carry out.

Scotland's largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said its in-house chaplaincy department was allocated a budget of £632,665 in 2013/14, with the service "providing non-denominational support to our 38,000 staff and all our patients".

It also pays £75,000 per year to the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Diocese of Paisley in exchange for "on-call" priests, "to provide the Sacramental ministry that Roman Catholic patients and families expect".

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UGANDAN CATHOLIC EASTER MESSAGE CALLS FOR GENOCIDE OF GAYS

CATHOLIC CHURCH MESSAGE IN UGANDA -  blessings to all Christians who have been working so hard to make Jinja a land free of gay persons

by Melanie Nathan, April 20, 2014.

The Bishop of the Jinja Diocese of the Catholic Church, Bishop Rt. Rev. Fr. Charles Wamika, in today’s Easter Message  delivered at St. Chalres Lwanga Catholic Church, praised the Members of Parliament for the Anti-Homosexuality Act that provides life in prison for gay (LGBTI) people in Uganda. The Bishop called for a blessing for Uganda’s Christians who worked so hard to ‘free the land of gays.’  The Bishope also asked for parents to hand over their gay children to authorities, so they would be rewarded in heaven. I would call that a statement praising and calling for a genocide.

 Since the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people have gone into hiding. The law, which institutionalizes homophobia and affirms the persecution of LGBTI people, has been held in esteem, the highest reverence and praised by Christian leadership in Uganda, to the point of holding rallies to reward parliamentarians and the President, Yoweri Museveni. The Ugandan Churches and Christian community, (except for a handful, who have been banished and shamed for their compassionate and affirming stance,) have led the assault against gays.

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Pope Francis asks forgiveness for child abuse by clergy

Pope FrancisPope Francis has asked for forgiveness for the "evil" damage to children caused by sexual abusers in the clerg

He said the abuse was a "moral damage carried out by men of the Church", and that "sanctions" would be imposed.

The statement, made in a meeting with a child rights group, is being described as his strongest the issue so far.

Last month, Pope Francis strongly defended the Roman Catholic Church's record on tackling sexual abuse by priests, following UN criticism.

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Atheists Classified As Terrorists Under New Saudi Arabian Laws

 

Atheist are being defined as terrorists under a raft of new Saudi Arabian laws, a report from Human Rights Watch states.

The new laws are accompanied by a series of related royal decrees which appear to criminalize virtually all dissident thought or expression as terrorism.

“Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.

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Irish Minister of Education 'Quinn' challenges church over patronage of schools

Minister suggests teaching of religion at either end or start of school day

Irish Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has thrown down a challenge to the Catholic Church to give concrete examples of how its schools can be “genuinely inclusive” for children of all faiths and none.

In an address to be delivered at a teacher union conference this morning, Mr Quinn says is it “disappointing” that the church has failed to provide such information to his department as had been promised in previous discussions.

He also suggests that, in developing policies on inclusivity, Catholic schools in areas where there is no alternative patronage should consider timetabling faith formation at the start or end of the day to minimise disruption to class.

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Religious people invited to Turkey’s first atheism association

The top official of the first ever Atheism Association founded in Turkey has invited religious people to become members too, ruling out atheist proselytizing.

Tolga İnci, interim chair of the association based in Istanbul’s Kadıköy neighborhood, told daily Hürriyet that they had 11 founders and 90 supporting members so far. He said their doors “are open to everybody.”

“You don’t have to be an atheist to come. Anybody who understands and accepts the charter of our association can become a member. Even religious people should come and see what kind of people atheists are,” İnci said, stressing that his association would not get involved in politics. 

In an interview with daily Agos last month, the founders had said their main goal would be providing legal support to people facing problems as atheists in Turkey.

Speaking to Hürriyet, İnci said they also “wanted to be understood.” 

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British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran for criticising Islam on Facebook


The situation of a British woman who has been locked up in Iran for five months over claims she posted derogatory comments about the country’s government on Facebook is “very worrying”, her local MP has said.

Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, 47, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was arrested in the south-western city of Shiraz last year for “insulting Islamic sanctities”, a crime which can be punishable by death. According to her husband, who is also British, she made a series of statements online about life in Iran before being detained.

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BELIEF THAT GOODNESS REQUIRES GODLINESS LINKED TO POVERTY, EDUCATIONAL DISADVANTAGE AND AGE

A new worldwide study by Pew Research demonstrates a strong correlations between poverty, age and educational disadvantage with the assumption that belief in a god is necessary for morality.
 
The study analyses data from more than  than 40,000 people in 40 countries who were asked: “Do you need God to be moral?”. It found that citizens of poorer countries are far more likely to assume that belief in a god is a requirement for morality. In the wealthier countries of Europe and Asia high proportions of people reject the notion that God is necessary for morality, while Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East (with the exception of Israel) show much stronger opinions that goodness requires godliness. Much of Latin America is also in line with this view. The US however remains an exception and an enigma.  53% of Americans surveyed consider belief in god necessry for morality, this being far more than the citizens of any European country surveyed and far more than the Canadians surveyed, of whom only 31% felt goodness requires godliness.
 
Not surprisingly, the study also found significant divides based on age and education, particularly in Europe and North America. In general, individuals age 50 or older and those without a college education are much more likely to link morality to religion.  In the U.S. for example, a majority of individuals without a college degree (59%) say faith is essential to be a moral person, while only 37% of college graduates say the same.

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