Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, critics debate 'path to heaven'

By Shahir ShahidSaless

President Hassan Rouhani's public battle with hard-line clerics over Iranians' route to heaven is symptomatic of the broader war he faces over his reform efforts.

In the last two weeks, the tit-for-tat exchanges between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his hard-line opponents have grabbed the headlines, not only inside Iran but around the world. Triggered by the arrest of six young Iranian men and women who had created a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy,” Rouhani remarked May 24 in a speech, “Do not interfere so much in people’s lives, even out of compassion. … Let people choose their own path to heaven. We cannot send people to heaven by force or a whip.”

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Turkey’s intra-Islamic witch hunt

 “If this is called a witch hunt, then yes, we perform a witch hunt,” said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a May 10 “consultation and assessment meeting” of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

He was referring to the purge and reshuffling within the Turkish judiciary and police with the clear aim of dismantling the “parallel state” allegedly formed by the Fethullah Gulen movement.

“In order to sterilize this dirty water that contaminated the milk, we will either boil or molecularize it,” Erdogan added, using a biological reference to justify an operation on state and society.

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Egyptian Writer ‘Karam Saber’ Sentenced to Five Years in Jail for Atheist Book

Activist and writer Karam Saber has been sentenced to five years – the maximum sentence – in jail in Egypt for writing a book considered by the authorities as promoting atheism in the country.

When the author published "Where Is God?" -- a collection of short stories about poor farmers in Egypt -- in 2011, some citizens from Beni Sueif filed a legal complaint alleging the work promoted atheism and contradicted religious precepts.

Hamdy Al-Assiuti, one of the members of Saber's defence team, said the court disregarded the evidence submitted by Saber's lawyers.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Egyptian government to revoke the sentence and repeal laws violating freedom of expression.

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Israeli Public Schools to Teach the Theory of Evolution

Israel ministry of education has decided to introduce Darwin’s Theory of Evolution into the state curriculum.

According to the YNET report, the theory of evolution will be a part of the 5775 school year curriculum in religious and secular public schools alike. It will be taught in eighth and ninth grades as part of the science curriculum, the same core subjects Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron insists must be a part of chareidi chinuch to become eligible for equal state funding as public schools.

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Saudi Arabia amending laws to monitor social media

The Saudi authorities are reviewing the Anti-Cybercrime Law to amend it so as to initiate legal proceedings against social networking sites such as Twitter for allowing accounts which promote adultery, homosexuality and atheism, according to a report published in a section of the Arabic press on Sunday.

according to Alarabiya, Researcher and consultant of new media uses and Shoura Council member Dr. Fayez al-Shehri told Al-Hayat Arabic daily that there are around 25,000 accounts on Twitter targeting Saudis. There are around 4,500 accounts that promote atheism. Around 15,000-25,000 of such accounts are in Arabic language.

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Total 123 Years of Imprisonment For 8 People Active On Facebook In Iran

The Tehran Revolutionary Court, sentenced 8 men and women, active on Facebook to more than 123 years of imprisonment.

These 8 people were charged with assembly and collusion against the national security, insulting the Supreme Leader, insulting the authorities, propaganda against the regime, blasphemy, and spreading lies and disturbing the public’s peace.

According to the Kaleme website, these people who were arrested last year and were interrogated at the IRGC Ward 2-A in Evin prison, were tried and sentenced collectively to more than 123 years of imprisonment in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Moghayeseh,.

The sentences issued by lower court are as follows:

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Turkey sentences Twitter user to jail for blasphemy

A Turkish court on Thursday sentenced a teacher to 15-month jail term over Twitter posts deemed religiously offensive,  Hurriyet newspaper reported on Thursday.

The court in the eastern city of Mus ruled that the man, identified as Ertan P., insulted Islamic values with his Twitter handle -- @allah (cc) -- and a series of tweets he posted.

He pretending to tweet as god: "In my present state of mind, I would not have created the little finger of human beings".

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