A knife-wielding mob has hacked to death a US-Bangladeshi blogger whose writing on religion had brought threats from Islamist hardliners.
Avijit Roy, an atheist who advocated secularism, was attacked in Dhaka as he walked back from a book fair with his wife, who was hurt in attack.
No-one has been arrested but police say they are investigating a local Islamist group that praised the killing.
Hundreds of students gathered in Dhaka to mourn the blogger’s death.
On Friday a Religious Right legal group called the Liberty Institute published an article titled “5 Dangerous Enemies Against Your Christian Faith” on the site Charisma News.
Americans United made the top five! There we are, right alongside American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. (Sounds like good company to me -and don’t be sad that we’re number four; the list is alphabetical.)
Liberty Institute correctly reports that Americans United was founded in 1947. Pretty much everything else they say is a lie, a half-truth or an inflammatory distortion. This is not surprising, as the Liberty Institute has a habit of stretching the truth.
Dr, Mehnaz M. Afridi, a scholar and observant Muslim, describes how a visit to Dachau in 2007 as a doctoral student became a defining moment in her professional (and I assume also in her personal) life:
Early in the summer of 2007, a doctoral student named Mehnaz M. Afridi traveled from her California home to a conference in southern Germany. Her official role was to deliver a paper on anti-Semitism in Egyptian literature, a rather loaded subject for a Muslim scholar. Seventy miles away, she had another appointment, and an even riskier agenda.
After the conference concluded, Ms. Afridi drove to the former concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. As she stood before the dun bricks of a crematorium, she prayed. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un,” she said in Arabic, meaning, “Surely we belong to God and to him shall we return.”
“I didn’t know that moment would be defining my role,” Dr. Afridi, 44, said a few weeks ago. “I didn’t even realize then that I was at a crossroads. People see the Holocaust and Islam as two separate things, but these stories of faith and catastrophe are not opposites. They are companions.”
Dr. Afridi has made these seeming irreconcilables into companions in her life’s work. An assistant professor of religion at Manhattan College, she teaches courses about both Islam and the Holocaust, and she is director of the college’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center. Her book “Shoah Through Muslim Eyes,” referring to an alternative term for the Holocaust, will be published in July, and she is a member of the ethics and religion committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. […]
As you can probably imagine, her stance has also made her a target in some circles, both Muslim and Jewish. Read the rest of her story to find out more:
Muslim Scholar, Looking to ‘Speak the Truth,’ Teaches the Holocaust and Islam
Wait a minute… watching Fox News and the Republican talking heads I learned that all Muslims are bad bad bad and in no way can Islam be interpreted as any sort of peaceful religion.
OSLO (Reuters) - More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.
You mean none of this stuff Fox News or GOP/Tea Party ideologues is true? My world view is crushed. Absolutely crushed. Can’t be true. Fox News never lies.
A former Indiana Catholic school teacher who was fired after she sought in vitro fertilization (IVF) has won a $1.9 million judgment.
A jury ruled that the Roman Catholic diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend had discriminated against Emily Herx, who until 2012 worked as an English teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School.
Herx was terminated just two weeks after she requested time off for an IVF procedure. In response, Herx decided to sue both the school and the diocese, claiming gender discrimination. Herx’s attorneys provided evidence that the school had never fired a male teacher for using infertility treatment.
In a surprising move, the diocese responded with a novel argument: Its attorneys asserted that even being forced to defend itself in court would be a violation of the church’s “religious freedom.”
“[If] the diocese is required to go through a trial,” it would “irrevocably” deny the diocese’s religious protections, the church’s attorneys argued.
The judge declined to buy into that rather sweeping claim, and the case proceeded. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported that during the four-day trial, which concluded in December, the diocese worked hard to discredit Herx. Church attorneys portrayed her as a possible drug addict who is emotionally unstable, and priests who testified expressed contempt for Herx’s lack of remorse over her choice to undergo IVF.
Another GOP legislator sets their home state up for a ridiculously expensive court case that they will eventually lose. This bill is clearly unconstitutional and furthermore just plain wrong. Since the legislator can’t separate his religion from his lawmaking I have to call into question his suitability for office.
“Since the state contracts with hundreds of religious institutions that provide millions of dollars of important public services, it was important to make this change,” Holdman said in a statement. “Otherwise, Indiana may jeopardize many of these agreements and the services they provide for Hoosiers. This legislative action merely restores the state contract practice in Indiana that has been going on for decades.”
Maggie Garrett, legislative director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said she has a big problem with this bill.
“It’s one thing when churches and religious organizations use their own private money and discriminate and hire on basis of religion,” Garrett said. “It’s another thing when it’s taxpayer-funded discrimination, which is exactly what this bill would allow.”
Garrett said for her, religious freedom doesn’t mean religious organizations get profit from taxpayer dollars and use that money to discriminate hiring.
The headlines have been grim. Europe’s Jews face “rising anti-Semitism”; in some countries, many are leaving in “record numbers.” In separate incidents in recent months, gunmen have targeted Jews and Jewish institutions in Paris and Copenhagen. Even the Jewish dead have not been left in peace, with reports of graves being desecrated.
But the future of tolerance and multiculturalism in Europe is far from bleak. The bigotry on view has been carried out by a fringe minority, cast all the more in the shade by the huge peace marches and vigils that followed the deadly attacks. And some communities are trying to build solidarity in their home towns and cities.
One group of Muslims in Norway plans to form a “ring of peace” around a synagogue in Oslo on Saturday. On a Facebook page promoting the event, the group explained its motivations. Here’s a translated version of the invite:
Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other. Muslims want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews, and that we are there to support them. We will therefore create a human ring around the synagogue on Saturday 21 February. Encourage everyone to come!
Here’s an “in case you missed it” recommended long read on changing tones in the US in regards to religion.
Somewhere on the lower level of the Cloisters in New York is a small but striking 16th century stained-glass windowpane that depicts a robed monk casting a bound book into a burning pile of wood and manuscripts. A scroll, blown by the wind, not yet consumed, reaches out of the flames and displays a line from Sextus Propertius’s Elegies. “Olim gratus eram,” I was once acceptable. Since first coming across this pane, I’ve often wondered what the people who made it thought upon beholding it. Were they celebrating or mourning the scene depicted? Or perhaps it was something in between?
In a New Yorker essay after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Teju Cole invoked Menocchio, the 16th century miller who is the hero of Carlo Ginzburg’s groundbreaking micro-history, The Cheese and the Worms. Cole uses Menocchio to show that intolerance, iconoclastic intolerance, is definitional to the formation of The West; the anecdote serves to show that this intolerance has always been present and cannot be gotten rid of. Cole comes to the conclusion that:
The West is a variegated space, in which both freedom of thought and tightly regulated speech exist, and in which disavowals of deadly violence happen at the same time as clandestine torture. But, at moments when Western societies consider themselves under attack, the discourse is quickly dominated by an ahistorical fantasy of long-suffering serenity and fortitude in the face of provocation. Yet European and American history are so strongly marked by efforts to control speech that the persecution of rebellious thought must be considered among the foundational buttresses of these societies. Witch burnings, heresy trials, and the untiring work of the Inquisition shaped Europe, and these ideas extended into American history and took on American modes, from the breaking of slaves to the censuring of critics of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This is obvious from the ending of Menocchio’s account: he, like the books in the stained glass from the same era at the Cloisters, is burned at the stake.
Tax breaks for puritan parents that also rob our public schools of funds are what you get when you elect zealots to office.
A Kansas lawmaker introduced a bill this week that would pay foster parents “substantially” more public money if they are a churchgoing “husband and wife team” who do not smoke or drink, do not send the child to public schools, and one of whom stays at home.
State Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, who introduced Senate Bill 158 on Tuesday, wants to promote foster parents who are like a “Leave it to Beaver” family, The Associated Press reported.
Senate Bill 158 creates a “special category” known as licensed CARE families, who would receive “substantially higher” pay from the state than foster families deemed unacceptable to the CARE program.
More: Courthouse News Service
The Christian Examiner, a California based Christian periodical published by the Christian Media Corporation International Group, just filed a report attacking the son of Alabama District Court Judge Callie Granade. Granade has risen to prominence recently due to her ruling that struck down Alabama’s Gay marriage ban, and her rulings to county clerks and probate judges enjoining them to follow the Court’s decision.
The report, based off an unverified Facebook post, attempts to attack the Judge through her son, who may or may not be gay:
…at least one Facebook poster is questioning whether Judge Granade had a conflict of interest in making her ruling.
A person who self-identified as Ashton Harrington—with a profile description of “studied at the University of Alabama”—posted a screen capture with the note “Judge Ginny Granade appears to approve of her son Milton Granade’s Facebook profile picture.
Judge Granade expresses “Great photo of you two!” in the comment stream.
“I would like to know if her decision was based on law or family preference,” he asked, suggesting her son may be gay
None of the public postings on Facebook indicate her son Milton Grenade has children or is seeking them.
There is no evidence her son is a public figure, nor any evidence he is gay, beyond this Facebook post. The question of her son’s sexuality is irrelevant - judges are expected to rule dispassionately per the constitution and judicial precedent. She would be just the most recent in a line of judges across the country to strike down gay marriage bans, following precedent and using the constitution’s supremacy and equal protections provisions.
Lamar Keener, publisher at Selah Media Group, when contacted for comment informed me Selah sold The Christian Examiner to CMCI Group last year. Neither CMCI nor Christian Examiner have returned requests for comments at posting time.
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