Humanists have today warned the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva that authoritarian states across the world are increasingly using blasphemy laws to assert greater control over the rights of citizens.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) representative to the Council, Amelia Cooper, highlighted the invocation of ‘blasphemy’ in the recent incarceration of bloggers in Saudia Arabia, Tunisia, Bangladesh and Mauritania, as well as the suppression of tweets and user accounts in Pakistan, which were later unblocked by Twitter following the online #TwitterTheocracy campaign. Ms Cooper demonstrated the inadequate access to justice for those accused of blasphemy, citing the arbitrary imprisonment of a Saudi lawyer and the extra-judicial murder of Pakistani lawyer Rashid Rehman as part of a broader trend of the intimidation of those working on blasphemy cases.
Parents of Teo City Reject Inclusion of Religion in Academic Curricula
87% of parents in the city of Teo rejected this subject in the curriculum count after holding a referendum.
For Galicia Confidential | Teo | 06/13/2014
More than 800 parents of the public schools of the municipality of Teo took part in a referendum on the value of including religion in the academic curricula. And 690 of them, or 87.6% refused the proposed action of basing school grants or access to higher education on the passing of such classes. In addition, 65% believed that it should not share teaching time with other subjects of general knowledge.
By Tim Johns and Emma Hallett, BBC News
The Trojan Horse investigation has focused on an alleged plot to take over some Birmingham schools and run them according to Islamic principles. But while the role of Islam in education has come in for scrutiny, across the UK many students also follow a strict "fundamentalist" Christian curriculum.
For 29-year-old Jonny Scaramanga, who attended Victory Christian School in Bath until he was 14, the experience was "horrendous".
"At 8:15 I would arrive at my 'office' - a desk 2ft wide, with dividers 18 ins tall, designed to remove 'distractions'," he said.
By Mary Elizabeth Williams
One week after revelations of how over the span of 35 years, a County Galway home for unwed mothers cavalierly disposed of the bodies of nearly 800 babies and toddlers on a site that held a septic tank, new reports are leveling a whole different set of charges about what happened to the children of those Irish homes.
In harrowing new information revealed this weekend, the Daily Mail has uncovered medical records that suggest 2,051 children across several Irish care homes were given a diphtheria vaccine from pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome in a suspected illegal drug trial that ran from 1930 to 1936.
A ComRes survey for the BBC that has been published today has implied that people who are religiously practicing are more likely to donate to charitable causes than those who are not. The study, carried out via telephone with 2,606 English adults, reports that 77% of those who claim to be religiously practicing gave to charity in the month preceding the study, compared to 67% of other respondents. However, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has questioned the nature of this giving, and noted that these recent findings are contradicted by previous research into volunteering. For example, a 2007 study undertaken by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations found that ‘religious affiliation makes little difference in terms of volunteering’, and that six sevenths of registered charities are not religious in nature.