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
Christmas for the Vulnerable Christians of the World
Source: Al Jazeera YouTube
One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas
Mosul conflict displaces more than 68,000 in Iraq
- The battle between the Islamic State and a coalition of Western, Arab-Iraqi, and Kurdish-Iraqi forces over one of Iraq’s largest cities has further fueled the migration crisis in the Middle East, with more than half of the displaced from Mosul children.
- While Syria has borne the brunt of media myopia regarding migration coverage, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees have poured into the migration flows between the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.
- Regardless of the outcome, analysts anticipate the fight for Mosul will create a migration surge that European countries will have to prepare for, either in accepting disaffected IS-affiliated citizens or refugees escaping the turmoil of the violence.
“UN Reports Steady Increase in Mosul Displaced” (Voice of America)
“The Latest: UN says over 68,000 displaced by Mosul operation” (The Washington Post)
“How Mosul’s Liberation Could Send Shockwaves Across Europe” (TIME)
The Unweaving of Mosul
As the battle rages between the Islamic State and a coalition of forces led by the Iraqi government for control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, many of the ethnic and religious minorities who called it home for generations fear the city will never again be the tolerant, culturally rich home it once was. Sunnis, Shiites, Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, Arabs, and others all coexisted in the vibrant cultural landscape of a city with both historical and contemporary significance, but the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq and the recent occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State have all but decimated the minority communities that called the city home. The New York Times takes a look at the city’s decline, the uncertainty of its future, and the stories of those who once flourished in a cosmopolitan city known for its diversity and tolerance.
“In Once-Tolerant Mosul, a Social Unraveling That Feels Permanent” (The New York Times)
“Iraq: Can Mosul survive ISIL?” (Al Jazeera)
(Image Credit: Felipe Dana/Associated Press, via The New York Times)
Thousands of Yazidis remain in captivity on anniversary of massacre
- The U.N. reported that around 3,200 Yazidi women and girls are being held in sexual slavery and thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing, many presumed dead.
- August 3 marks the second anniversary of the Islamic State’s attack on Sinjar, Iraq, which left 10,000 Yazidis dead or enslaved in what observers have increasingly called a genocide.
- Prior to the attack, Sinjar had been home to the largest Yazidi community in the world.
“Thousands of Yazidis missing, captive, two years after start of ‘genocide’: U.N.” (Reuters)
“Yazidis Mark Second Anniversary of Islamic State Massacre” (Voice of America)
“Yazidi Activist Nadia Murad Speaks Out on the ‘Holocaust’ of Her People in Iraq” (TIME)
(Image Credit: Z. Yasar/Voice of America)
Islamic State attack on Shiite mausoleum leaves dozens dead
- At least 35 people were killed and 60 wounded after a triple suicide attack near the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi near Balad north of Baghdad.
- Worshipers were marking Eid al-Fitr when a suicide bomber detonated himself at the shrine, allowing IS militants to storm in and shoot visitors and a second suicide bomber to detonate in the middle of the crowd.
- The attack comes at the end of a global Ramadan that has been particularly bloody with attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, and Iraq.
“At least 35 killed in attack on Shi’ite mausoleum north of Baghdad” (Reuters)
“Iraq says Balad suicide blast is Isis attempt to stir up sectarian war” (The Guardian)
“Iraqi PM fires head of security after shrine attack” (AP via Al-Arabiya)
(Image Credit: Stringer/Reuters)
IS bombing of predominantly Shia neighborhood in Baghdad leaves nearly 300 dead
- A truck bombing ripped through the Karrada shopping district of central Baghdad, many of the victims children out with their families to celebrate the end of the school year .
- The attack was claimed by the Islamic State, the fourth such global attack coordinated or inspired by the group within the last month (following Orlando, Istanbul, and Dhaka).
- IS, a Sunni extremist group, claimed to have attacked Shiite Muslims, also taking credit for a second bombing in the predominantly Shia neighborhood of al-Shaab that left at least two dead.
“Bombing Kills More Than 120 in Baghdad” (The New York Times)
“Nearly 120 killed in overnight Baghdad bombings claimed by Islamic State” (Reuters)
“Iraq: Baghdad bombings kill dozens” (Al Jazeera)
(Image Credit: Reuters, via Al Jazeera)