Denmark bans face veils as anti-Muslim sentiment increases
- The Danish Parliament passed legislation effectively banning burqas and niqabs, imposing up to a 10,000 kroner fine on anyone found in repeated violation.
- Just over three dozen people are thought to be currently affected by the legislation, prompting Muslims and advocates to argue the bill’s greater purpose is to stir Islamophobic attitudes.
- The ban comes amidst a wave of anti-Muslim remarks and proposals, including the Immigration Minister’s touting of falling Muslim citizenship approval numbers, a 50,000-signature petition to ban the circumcision of boys, and calls for the closing of Muslim schools.
“Danish parliament bans the wearing of face veils in public” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Denmark swings right on immigration – and Muslims feel besieged” (The Guardian | June 2018)
“Unsurprising that stricter Danish rules give fewer Muslims citizenship: immigration minister” (The Local | May 2018)
Austrian government announces Islam crackdown, shutters mosques
- Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that it would be dissolving the Arab Religious Group, which runs six mosques, along with a Turkish mosque and would be shut down.
- The Interior Chancellor also announced that the residence permits of dozens of foreign-born imams associated with Turkish organization ATIB were under review, which could lead to their deportation if revoked.
- Implementing its pledge to restrict immigration and monitor assimilation, the government, a conservative coalition that includes the far-right Freedom Party, is using as justification a 2015 law prohibiting the foreign funding of religious groups and for Muslim organizations to support the Austrian state and society.
“Austria to shut 7 mosques and could expel dozens of imams” (Al Jazeera | June 2018)
“Austria shuts down seven mosques in what it says is ‘just the beginning’ of a crackdown” (The Washington Post | June 2018)
“Erdoğan warns of ‘crusader-crescent war’ after Austria’s shutting of mosques” (Hurriyet Daily News | June 2018)
More than 10 killed, dozens wounded in Indonesian church bombings
- A family of six—including young children—launched coordinated suicide bombings at three church sites in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city.
- Targeting a Catholic church, a Pentecostal church, and the Indonesian Christian Church, the attacks left at least 13 dead and 40 wounded.
- The attack came as the Islamic State has stepped up recruitment in the Southeast Asia region, with police reporting that the family was among the 500 Islamic State sympathizers returning from Syria.
“IS-linked family responsible for Surabaya bombings, police say” (The Jakarta Post | May 2018)
“Family of IS-inspired suicide bombers attack Indonesian churches, at least 13 dead” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Indonesia attacks: How Islamic State is galvanising support” (BBC News | May 2018)
Evidence of Rohingya massacre by security forces deepens crisis in Myanmar
- The Associated Press uncovered evidence of a military-led mass killing of a Rohingya community in late August that left at least 75 and as many as 400 dead.
- The report detailed documentary evidence of at least five mass graves in and near the village of Gu Dar Pyin along with videos and survivor reports of acid use to attempt to cover up the massacre.
- While the Burmese government insists it is only targeting “terrorists” and denies mass killings, the international community is facing growing pressure to declare ongoing state violence against the Rohingya a genocide.
“AP finds evidence for graves, Rohingya massacre in Myanmar” (The Associated Press | February 2018)
“Evidence of Rohingya mass graves uncovered in Myanmar” (Al Jazeera | February 2018)
“Myanmar denies report of new mass graves in Rakhine” (Reuters | February 2018)
The Global Effort to Rescue Persecuted Atheists
Source: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science/YouTube (September 2016)
With more than a dozen countries criminalizing atheistic expression and anti-atheist sentiment widespread even in purportedly secular countries, organizations have popped up around the globe to rescue persecuted atheists, lobby for civil rights, and promote community and security for atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers. Secular Rescue was launched by the Center for Inquiry in 2016 in response to the recent spate of murders of secularist Bangladeshi writers and intellectuals, and its efforts have drawn attention to the plight of freethinkers living in the Global South in need of asylum. The Atlantic recently profiled the organization as well as the conditions contributing to the greater visibility of atheists in regions conventionally assumed to be inhospitable to the growth of secularism and freethought.
“The ‘Underground Railroad’ To Save Atheists” (The Atlantic | January 2018)
“Center for Inquiry Launches ‘Secular Rescue’ to Save Lives of Threatened Activists” (The Center for Inquiry | September 2016)
Atheist Asylum Program
French hospital dismisses Egyptian trainee doctor from program for beard
- The administrative court of appeals ruled in favor of the hospital after the surgery trainee sued as the result of termination by hospital managers at a Saint-Denis hospital for failing to trim his beard.
- The trainee’s lawyer argued that the termination was discriminatory as a similarly long beard worn by someone who wasn’t Egyptian and named “Mohamed” would likely not have been asked to prove it was not of religious orientation.
- French law dictates that religious expression is forbidden in state institutions like public hospitals, including personal symbolic displays that could be construed as religiously motivated.
“Un médecin renvoyé pour une barbe trop longue, la justice donne raison à l’hôpital” (Agence France-Presse, via Libération | December 2017 – in French)
“‘C’est une décision complètement discriminatoire’ : un médecin stagiaire renvoyé à cause d’une barbe trop longue” (franceinfo | December 2017 – in French)
“French hospital rejects trainee doctor due to ‘religious’ beard” (The Telegraph | January 2018)
Suicide bombing attack on Shia cultural center in Kabul kills dozens
- A single suicide bomber infiltrated the Tabian Social and Culture Centre in Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood, leaving more than 40 dead and at least 80 injured.
- The attack took place as a crowd of more than 100 gathered to mark the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of more than a dozen since 2016 targeting Shiites that have left more than 700 dead.
“Suicide bombers kill dozens at Shi’ite center in Afghan capital” (Reuters | December 2017)
“ISIS suicide bombing in Kabul kills dozens” (CNN | December 2017)
“Why is ‘Islamic State’ targeting Shiites in Afghanistan?” (Deutsche Welle | December 2017)