• "Turkey: Concert pianist Fazil Say convicted of blasphemy against Islam"


    In Turkey, Fazil Say, celebrated pianist, composer and atheist, has been convicted of “explicitly insulting religious values” for posting a series of tweets critical of Islam.
    The popular international music star was given a suspended 10-month jail sentence for insulting Muslim values on Monday, April 15.
    In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Say said:

    "Although I am innocent and have not committed any crime, this decision I received is more worrisome for the freedom of expression and belief in Turkey than it is to me as a person."
    In April of 2012, Say came under investigation by the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office over statements made on Twitter, declaring himself an atheist and retweeting a message poking fun at the Islamic conception of paradise. Say’s so-called “blasphemous” tweets included the following:

    You say rivers of wine flow in heaven: is heaven a tavern to you?/ You say two hours await each believer there: is heaven a brothel to you?”


    The muezzin finished the call to prayer in 22 seconds. What’s the rush? A lover? A raki [alcoholic drink] on the table?”

    Read more here:
    "Fazıl Say (Turkish pronunciation: [faːˈzɯl saj]; born January 14, 1970), is a Turkish pianist and composer born in Ankara, Turkey.
    In April 2012, Say came under investigation by the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office over statements made on Twitter, declaring himself an atheist and retweeting a message poking fun at the Islamic conception of paradise. Say then announced that he was considering leaving Turkey to live in Japan because of the rise of conservative Islam and growing intolerance in his home country. On 1 June 2012, an Istanbul court indicted Say with the crime of "publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation", a crime that carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison. According to Anatolia news agency, Say told the Istanbul court he did not seek to insult anybody, but was merely expressing his uneasiness. The court adjourned the case to February 18 after rejecting his lawyers’ request for an immediate acquittal. On April 15, 2013, Say was sentenced to 10 months in jail, reduced from 12 months for good behavior in court. The sentence was suspended, so he will be allowed to roam provided he does not commit the same offense in 5 years."

  • "Missouri bill redefines science, gives equal time to intelligent design"

    The Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture used banners based on 'The Creation of Adam' from the Sistine Chapel. Later it used a less religious image, then was renamed the Center for Science and Culture. - Wikipedia

    "Each year, state legislatures play host to a variety of bills that would interfere with science education. Most of these are variations on a boilerplate intended to get supplementary materials into classrooms criticizing evolution and climate change (or to protect teachers who do). They generally don't mention creationism, but the clear intent is to sneak religious content into the science classrooms, as evidenced by previous bills introduced by the same lawmakers. Most of them die in the legislature (although the opponents of evolution have seen two successes).
    The efforts are common enough that we don't generally report on them. But every now and then a bill comes along that veers off this script. Late last month, the Missouri House started considering one that deviates in staggering ways. Instead of being quiet about its intent, it redefines science, provides a clearer definition of intelligent design than any of the idea's advocates ever have, and it mandates equal treatment of the two. In the process, it mangles things so badly that teachers would be prohibited from discussing Mendel's Laws."

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    "Intelligent design (ID) is a form of creationism promulgated by the Discovery Institute, a politically conservative think tank. The Institute defines it as the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God, presented by its advocates as "an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins" rather than "a religious-based idea" All the leading proponents of intelligent design are associated with the Discovery Institute and believe the designer to be the Christian deity.
    Scientific acceptance of Intelligent Design would require redefining science to allow supernatural explanations of observed phenomena, an approach its proponents describe as theistic realism or theistic science. It puts forth a number of arguments in support of the existence of a designer, the most prominent of which are irreducible complexity and specified complexity.The scientific community rejects the extension of science to include supernatural explanations in favor of continued acceptance of methodological naturalism, and has rejected both irreducible complexity and specified complexity for a wide range of conceptual and factual flaws. Intelligent design is viewed as a pseudoscience by the scientific community, because it lacks empirical support, offers no tenable hypotheses, and aims to describe natural history in terms of scientifically untestable supernatural causes."

  • "Catholic Bishops Reject Obama Offer on Contraceptive Coverage"

    'And the villain still pursues her', a satirical Victorian era postcard. - Wikipedia

    "U.S. Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the Obama Administration's latest bid for compromise over a hotly disputed health policy that requires employees at religiously affiliated institutions to have access to insurance coverage for contraceptives.
    Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said his group would redouble efforts to reach an agreement on the contraceptives issue after more than a year of protest and scores of federal lawsuits from Catholics groups and other social conservatives.
    But the cardinal, one of the most prominent voices in the American Catholic Church, said new federal rules proposed last week offer only "second-class status" to church-affiliated universities, hospitals and charities by failing to grant them the same full exemption afforded to houses of worship."

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    "The Catholic Church is opposed to artificial contraception and orgasmic acts outside of the context of marital intercourse.This belief dates back to the first centuries of Christianity. Such acts are considered intrinsically disordered because of the belief that all licit sexual acts must be both unitive (express love), and procreative (open to procreation). The only form of birth control permitted is abstinence. Modern scientific methods of "periodic abstinence" such as natural family planning (NFP) were counted as a form of abstinence by Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. The following is the condemnation of contraception:
    "Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means."
    A number of other documents provide more insight into the Church's position on contraception. The commission appointed to study the question in the years leading up to Humanae Vitae issued two unofficial reports, a so-called "majority report" which attempted to express reasons the Catholic Church could change its teaching on contraception, and a "minority report" which explains the reasons for upholding the traditional Christian view on contraception. In 1997, the Vatican released a document entitled "Vademecum for Confessors" (2:4) which states "[t]he Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception."
    The 1987 document Donum Vitae opposes in-vitro fertilization on grounds that it is harmful to embryos. Later on, the 2008 instruction Dignitas Personae denounces embryonic manipulations and new methods of contraception."

  • BBC: "Kashmir girl band Pragaash gives up after threats"


    "Just tell everyone we have quit. We are no more a band," one of the members of the group Pragaash told the BBC.
    The three teenage members say they have received threats since they appeared at a Srinagar music event in December.
    On Sunday the Muslim-majority state's grand mufti criticised them for what he said was indecent behaviour.
    "When girls and young women stray from the rightful path... this kind of non-serious activity can become the first step towards our destruction," Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad said in a statement, quoted by AFP news agency.

    Read more at:
    "Pragash (translation: Band of Lights) was an all-girl Kashmiri rock band formed by three teenage Muslim girls. The band was formed in December 2012 and received controversy from Islamic militants, who claimed that the band members allegedly broke the codes of Islam. The band members all received threats of death, rape, and other physical harm, as well as a fatwa from Grand Mufti, which prompted them to quit the band.
    The band made their first public appearance on December 10, 2012 when they participated in a Battle of Bands competition in Srinagar, where they received the award for "Best Performance".
    Shortly after their win at the Battle of Bands, the group began to receive death and rape threats via their cell phones and Facebook profiles.
    The Grand Mufti publicly criticized the band, stating that they were exhibiting "indecent behaviour" and that "this kind of non-serious activity can become the first step towards our destruction".
    On February 3, 2013 he issued a fatwa against the group, stating that music was "not good for society" and that all of the "bad things happening in the Indian society are because of music".
    Later that same month the police registered a First Information Report against the online attackers and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah ordered a probe in the matter.
    The band has received a large amount of global online support. The group initially received expressions of support and offers of security for the band from Chief Minister Omar Abdullah via Twitter, but he later deleted his tweets."

    Like Pragaash in Facebook at:

  • "Popular Atheist Blogger Stabbed Repeatedly by Suspected Islamist Fundamentalists in Bangladesh"


    "An atheist blogger in Bangladesh has been stabbed repeatedly by three suspected Islamist fundamentalists and is currently in critical condition in a local hospital.
    Asif Mohiuddin, 29, was attacked earlier this week as he was leaving work at night in Dhaka, when a group of unidentified men jumped him and stabbed him repeatedly. Mohiuddin is one of the nation's most well-known atheists, and runs a Bengali blog titled "Almighty only in name, but impotent in reality," which is one of Bangladesh's most visited websites.
    "We operated on him for more than three hours. He is improving but still not out of danger. He has six deep cuts including two grave ones in the shoulder," Haridas Saha, a surgeon at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told AFP News agency."

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    "During the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan opposed the independence of Bangladesh, but established itself there as an independent political party, the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami after 1975.
    Bangladesh Nationalist Party is second largest party in the Parliament of Bangladesh and main opposition party. The BNP promotes a center-right policy combining elements of conservatism, Islamism, nationalism and anti-communism. The party believes that Islam is an integral part of the socio-cultural life of Bangladesh, and favors Islamic principles and cultural views. Since 2000, it has been allied with the Islamic parties Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and Islami Oikya Jote."


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