Campaign against #TwitterTheocracy on June 10th 2014

 Twitter has agreed to use its ‘Country Withheld Tool’ to block “blasphemous tweets” in Pakistan, thus becoming complicit in suppressing free speech, and in aiding Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Over the past month, Twitter accounts have been suspended and tweets have been blocked in Pakistan; a Twitter user has recently been jailed in Turkey for a “blasphemous” tweet. In Pakistan and other theocracy-based states, blasphemy laws are key tools used by those in power to actively persecute minorities. We urge Twitter and all other international companies and organizations to uphold human rights-based standards of conduct, particularly when it comes to freedom of expression.

We at Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) are committed to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19, pertaining to freedom of expression. Alongside AA, AHA, Black Non-Believers, Camp Quest, CFI, SHJ and other secular allies, we are organizing a day of protest on June 10th to highlight the role Twitter is playing in aiding and promoting anti-freedom, anti-human-rights, theocratic policies.

On June 10th, tweet hashtag #TwitterTheocracy and speak up about how Twitter has chosen to side with theocratic regimes instead of those who are trying to resist those regimes.

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Pregnant Woman Stoned by Family

25-year-old pregnant woman has been stoned to death by her own family members, with her father dubbing the atrocity an “honor killing.”

Farzana Parveen was killed in broad daylight by nearly 20 members of her family before a crowd of onlookers outside the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan.

As she walked up to the court’s main gate with her husband Mohammad Iqbal, relatives waiting for the couple’s arrival fired shots in the air and attempted to snatch her away. When she resisted, the attackers, who included her father, two brothers and her former fiancé, started beating her and her husband, before escalating the attack with bricks obtained from a nearby construction site.

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Twitter Agrees to Block ‘Blasphemous’ Tweets in Pakistan

At least five times this month, a Pakistani bureaucrat who works from a colonial-era barracks in Karachi, just down the street from the former home of his country’s secularist founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, asked Twitter to shield his compatriots from exposure to accounts, tweets or searches of the social network that he described as “blasphemous” or “unethical.”

All five of those requests were honored by the company, meaning that Twitter users in Pakistan can no longer see the content that so disturbed the bureaucrat, Abdul Batin of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority: crude drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, photographs of burning Qurans, and messages from a handful of anti-Islam bloggers and an American porn star who now attends Duke University.

The blocking of these tweets in Pakistan — in line with the country-specific censorship policy Twitter unveiled in 2012 — is the first time the social network has agreed to withhold content there. A number of the accounts seemed to have been blocked in anticipation of the fourth annual “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” on May 20.

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Dismantling an open letter from an American Muslim to Bill Maher

Opinion piece: Dismantling an open letter from an American Muslim to Bill Maher

WRITTEN BY FARAN J, AAI NEWS TEAM

It is no longer a surprise that after a horrible act is committed by violent Muslims, Muslim apologists and their friends on the left deny any link between Islam and the people who hold extremist or violent ideas and who justify their beliefs and actions by quoting Islam and Koran. Even some progressive Muslims are sick of it. Even after almost two decades of global terrorism by Islamic terrorists, we are still arguing whether the cause has anything to do with Islam or not! I came across one such piece in TIME magazine, written by an American Muslim who is addressing Bill Maher and his so called recent "Islamophobic rant" against Islam.

Frankly, Rabia Chaudry's letter to Bill Maher is so absurd that I decided to dismantle it completely. So here goes.

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Uphold secularism, says Catholic Bishops body to National Democratic Alliance

MANGALORE: Congratulating National Democratic Alliance, led by BJP, on its thumping win in the general elections, the top body of Catholic bishops in India hoped that the new government will uphold values and secularism in making India a great nation.

Let the new government led by BJP enable the India of Mahatma Gandhi stand tall among the world nations ensuring protection, security, welfare and sustained development of the people of all sections," Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), said in a statement.

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Pakistan media mughal booked under blasphemy, terrorist laws

Pakistan police registered a criminal case against against Geo TV owner Mir Shakeel-ur Rehman and Jang media group for showing a programme that allegedly contained blasphemous content, an official said. 

Geo channel on Wednesday staged a mock marriage ceremony of controversial actress Veena Malik as a religious song was played in the background. 

District and sessions judge of Okara in Punjab province yesterday ordered that a case be registered against Geo media group owner Rehman, anchor Shaistan Lodhi, actress Veena, her husband Asad Khatak and others over the programme. 

Police officer Rana Aziz said Veena, her husband Asad and programme hostess Lodhi were also named in the case registered with Margalla police station in the capital Islamabad

"They have been charged under Section 295 A, 295 C and 298 A of Pakistan Penal Code, which deal with insulting the religion, and Section 7 of anti-terrorism act," he said. 

Veena has recently married and the channel was celebrating the event. 

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Govt not proceeding against TV for ‘obvious reasons’

BAHAWALPUR

MNA Jamshed Dasti has said that the nation will not tolerate blasphemy and Pemra should take stern action against the private TV channel for broadcasting sacrilegious content. He warned that if the government did not take action against the TV channel then it would itself responsible for the consequences. Addressing “Meet The Press” programme of Bahawalpur Press Club here on Monday, Dasti demanded the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the issue immediately. He accused both the PML-N and PPP backing the Geo and Jang group, saying that the government did not willing to take action against the media group.

He pointed out that the district administration and Principal Quaid-e-Azam Medical College should have played their role for the resolution of issues being faced by the doctors, adding that the Punjab Health Minister and the Health secretary for failure to tackle issues of the young doctor.

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Blasphemy, blasphemy everywhere

Sir: Whoever thinks that weaving a web of venom to entrap others will save them from getting poisoned needs to read the writing on the wall. Pakistanis are now entangled in a web of blasphemy wherein this poison is thundering day and night. This venomous disease is now entrapping its makers; no one can forget the unfortunate scenes of the governor of Punjab being shot dead by no one else than his own security guard, and later the same guard being garlanded by the so-called protectors of the law, the lawyers of Rawalpindi. Just recently, a human rights activist and lawyer, Rashid Rehman, who was representing a blasphemy victim in a court of law, was openly threatened by his fellow lawyers in the presence of a presiding judge. Later, Rehman was gunned down in his office. The lawyer who threatened Rehman and the judge who turned a blind eye are very much there in their chambers, doing roaring business.

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Pakistan: Investigate Killing of Rights Lawyer

(New York) – Pakistani authorities should conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the May 7, 2014 killing of human rights activist and lawyer Rashid Rehman, Human Rights Watch said today. Those responsible should be fully and promptly prosecuted.

Rehman’s killing, an apparent reprisal for his willingness to represent people charged under Pakistan’s blasphemylaw, underscores the urgent need for the government to repeal that law, Human Rights Watch said.

Two unidentified gunmen killed Rehman in his office in Multan, Punjab province. Several weeks earlier, Rehman had been threatened with “dire consequences” for defending Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University who was facing prosecution under Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Hafeez allegedly disseminated blasphemous statements via his Facebook account, though it is not known what he said, since republishing the statement could lead to blasphemy charges against those who republish it.

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Pakistani police charge 68 lawyers with blasphemy over protest

By: Syed Raza Hassan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani police have registered a case of blasphemy against 68 lawyers who made a public protest after a police officer detained one of their colleagues, officials said on Tuesday, the latest in a tidal wave of such accusations flooding the country.

Analysts say the surge in accusations is a worrying sign the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people is becoming less tolerant as militant ideas enter mainstream politics.

The colonial-era law does not define blasphemy, but the charge carries the death penalty. Presenting evidence can be considered a new infringement, so judges are reluctant to hear cases.

Judges who free those accused of blasphemy have been attacked and two politicians who suggested reforming the law were shot dead. Those acquitted have often been lynched.

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Being gay in Pakistan: Where anti-gay serial killers are applauded

LAHORE, Pakistan — Sitting at a coffee shop in a posh Lahore neighborhood, two young men hold a heated debate over the serial killer caught killing gay men in their city last month.

“Gay rights are human rights,” says one, arguing that gays have the right to live openly here. This is Pakistan, the other countered. “It is best to let these things stay unsaid, and underground – it's not okay in this society.” It’s a debate so fundamental that it might, at this point, sound hackneyed to a Western audience — yet in Pakistan it’s rare to hear such openness even in a private discussion. 

In late April, a young man named Muhammed Ejaz confessed to killing three gay men over the past two months because he wanted to send a warning about the “evils” of homosexuality.

The 28-year-old paramedic from Lahore said he had lured his victims through a gay social networking site manjam.com and killed them following a sexual encounter in their own homes.

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