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January 19 2013

mr-absentia
According to a story by Benjamin Weinthal for Fox News, a criminal court in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef handed out the shocking [15-year prison] sentence last week, according to the Arabic-language Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Nadia Mohamed Ali, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam when she married Mohamed Abdel-Wahhab Mustafa, a Muslim, 23 years ago. Fox News said he later died, and his widow planned to convert her family back to Christianity in order to obtain an inheritance from her family. She sought the help of others in the registration office to process new identity cards between 2004 and 2006. When the conversion came to light under the new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison. According to Fox News, Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, said conversions like Nadia's have been common in the past, but said Egypt's new Sharia-based constitution ‘is a real disaster in terms of religion freedom.’
Egypt Family Gets 15 Years For Christian Conversion (ASSIST News Service, Jan. 16 2013)

October 15 2012

mr-absentia
It seems as though many in the world are far more eager to use religion as a tool for consolidating power than are interested in protecting religious freedom and free speech. Countries such as Pakistan, Greece, and Egypt are imprisoning those who dare to speak their mind about religion and belief in general. This undemocratic crackdown on speech is worrying not only because it threatens the concept of religious freedom, but because real human beings around the world are suffering from the effects of this renewed tyrannical campaign that goes on where the attempts to impose blasphemy laws at the UN left off in 2011.
Roy Speckhardt: Religious Freedom on the Brink (Huffington Post, Oct. 12 2012)

September 26 2012

mr-absentia

Just One More Example

from Atheist Alliance International (Sep. 23 2012):

Recently, Atheist Alliance International was contacted by an atheist in an Islamic country. He had made a video criticising his government's position on human rights and posted it online. We received this email from him today and publish it with his permission, with identifying information redacted, to illustrate just one more example of the threat to freedom of expression and thought posed by Islamists.

Hi, I have previously contacted you and submitted a video on [redacted] government and its human rights violation. Unfortunately, after much pressure from my family and the prospect of my getting a heart attack because of my Atheism, I have decided to pull the video down. I have to close down all of my email and twitter account and Atheist Nexus account as well. I just wanted to apologize to you because I would have continue leaving the video up but the pressure is so much that I have succumbed. The lesson that I have learn[ed] is, Muslims will never tolerate Atheism, Atheist, Apostate even basic human rights - freedom of faith. I guess I really have no choice but to remain hidden and under the radar and just let my rights taken away from me. It is hard, especially when I am feeling all alone and I don't even have any real friends here in [redacted]. My family still hoping that I will repent and become a Muslim again but after our heated debate on human rights and Atheism, I don't think I will ever look at Islam the same way again. I apologize again for the trouble I have caused.

Obviously, it is not this man who should be apologising.

September 19 2012

mr-absentia
As Americans, we understand the dual nature of free speech: it serves us by allowing us to share our convictions with others, and it occasionally causes us offense by exposing us to differing perspectives. We must now remember that the right not to be offended isn't enshrined in our Constitution. Even if we abhor statements motivated by hate, the legality of religious critique isn't questionable. That's why we should act swiftly to protect the rights of religious freedom and freedom of speech that are explicitly guaranteed to us. By doing this we might expose ourselves to the forces of hate and terror, but we can't allow fear to rule the day if we hope to maintain our ability to live truly free lives.
Roy Speckhardt: What the Libyan Embassy Attack Teaches Us About True Religious Freedom (Huffington Post, Sep. 13 2012)

December 03 2011

mr-absentia

Persecution Blog: ChinaAid to European Parliament: Religious Freedom in China at Lowest Point Since 1989

ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu will be telling the European Parliament on Wednesday that the situation with human rights and religious freedom in China has deteriorated to its lowest point since the period after the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square student-led pro-democracy demonstration.
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