Some taxi cab drivers who work the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport have told their companies that they do not want to drive cabs that include signs for the upcoming Gay Games in Cleveland.
According to the Associated Press, 10,000 athletes are expected to be part of the Gay Games in Cleveland Aug. 9 – 16.
Several drivers who work for Ace, Americab, and Yellow Taxi objected to the signage on their rooftops based on their religious beliefs.
Patrick Keenan, general manager of Americab, claims two Muslim taxi cab drivers objected to the cabs with the signs.
"We don't have any objections to the signage," Keenan told Cleveland.com. "We're fully supportive of the games. We're not in concert with [the protesting drivers] on that. We don't share those views."
The Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, which sells the ad space on the cabs, has made a deal with the cab companies to replace those drivers who are offended by the Gay Games signs.
Two politicians in India’s largest, most influential state sparked outrage by suggesting men who commit rape should be forgiven because “boys will be boys,” but women who have sex outside of marriage, even if raped, should be hanged.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, the head of the socialist Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of over 200 million people, said it’s not uncommon “for boys to make mistakes.”
"Boys will be boys. Following a girl-boy fight, the girl complains she was raped," he told a crowd in Moradabad.
Yadav, 74, was referring to a Mumbai case in which three men were sentenced to death for participating in two gang rapes.
"Many people said that my comments were right,” Yadav defended his comments on Friday at another rally. “I am against rape. Rapist should be given the most severe punishment. Innocent people should not be hanged. Rape is being debated in half the world. If I said this, what was wrong?"
Another senior leader in the UP Socialist party, Abu Azmi, defended Yadav’s comments, adding that women who are raped should be hanged along with the rapist.
"Rape is punishable by hanging in Islam,” Azmi told NDTV News when he was asked about Yadav’s comments. “But here, nothing happens to women, only to men. Even the woman is guilty."
Uttah Pradesh is largely impoverished and draws much of its support from Muslims.
"Any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged,” Azmi continued. “Both should be hanged. It shouldn't be allowed even if a woman goes by consent."
Azmi’s son, Farhan Azmi, who is running for a local seat in Mumbai, denounced his father’s comments.
"I believe a rapist should be hanged a hundred times," Farhan Azmi said. "I have five sisters and everyone in my family believes the same."
The general election in India has already begun and will continue until May 16.
Saudi Arabia’s new terrorism laws officially say that atheists and others who commit thought crimes are the same as terrorists.
“The interior ministry regulations [introduced over the last three months] include … sweeping provisions that authorities can use to criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam,” according to Human Rights Watch.
Included under the terrorism provisions is the ban on “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”
In Saudi Arabia, even if you’re not an atheist or a dissident, severe punishment can still be inflicted on you just for saying what’s on your mind. Even giving support to freethinkers is considered a crime in the kingdom.
Article 4 of the kingdom’s Basic Law states: “Anyone who aids [‘terrorist’] organizations, groups, currents [of thought], associations, or parties, or demonstrates affiliation with them, or sympathy with them, or promotes them, or holds meetings under their umbrella, either inside or outside the kingdom; this includes participation in audio, written, or visual media; social media in its audio, written, or visual forms; internet websites; or circulating their contents in any form, or using slogans of these groups and currents [of thought], or any symbols which point to support or sympathy with them.”
In a blog post, Brian Whitaker at al-bab.com writes: “Since the entire system of government is based on Wahhabi interpretations of Islam, non-believers are assumed to be enemies of the Saudi state.”
Under the new decree by King Abdullah, anyone who participates in conflicts outside Saudi Arabia will spend up to 20 years in prison.
“Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW. “These regulations dash any hope that King Abdullah intends to open a space for peaceful dissent or independent groups.”
Dissent continues to be a big concern in the kingdom because, as The Independent notes: “The new laws have largely been brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis travelling to take part in the civil war in Syria, who have previously returned with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.”
An Afghan refugee living in Australia had all charges against him dropped after a Geelong judge said that “cultural differences” made it difficult to find the registered sex offender guilty of attempted kidnapping.
Ali Jaffari, 35, faced a judge in Australian court on charges of child stealing, attempted child-stealing, and unlawful assault. The Muslim man stated during the proceedings that his attempt to kidnap a 4-year-old girl would have been acceptable in his native Afghanistan, so he wasn’t aware he was doing anything wrong. Jaffari was already found guilty of two separate indecent assault charges this past August, stemming from a November 2012 incident, and had to register as a sex offender.
This attempted kidnapping happened in January 2013 when Jaffari tried to steal a four-year-old girl at a park in front of her father and brother. According to reports, Jaffari approached the young girl, took a cricket bat out of her hand, and started to drag her away from where she was playing.
“He then grabbed the child’s hand and began to lead her away before she looked up, saw it wasn’t her father, started crying and pulled her hand away,” said Sergeant Brooke Shears. “The victim’s father turned, saw what was happening and yelled at Jaffari, “What do you think you’re doing? The victim ran crying to her father and he comforted her while Jaffari walked off around the oval.”
Shears said that despite Jaffari’s claims that cultural differences were the reason behind the attempted kidnapping, it’s clear that he knew exactly what he was doing.
“He took the child by the hand and led her four or five steps away from her father before the child realized [sic] and started crying,” said Shears.
The judge said that there was reasonable doubt in this case, and even though Jaffari is already a convicted sex offender, anyone would have a hard time proving that he was guilty.
The ABC Family channel has dropped a proposed new TV series “Alice in Arabia," which reportedly mocked Muslim cultures.
The series pilot (first episode) was recently approved by ABC Family, which suddenly changed its mind, noted Deadline.com.
According to ABC Family, the series was about an American teen who is "unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian… Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.”
However, after a script for the series leaked on the web, it was condemned by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“We are concerned that, given media references to the main character ‘surviving life behind the veil,’ the pilot and any resulting series may engage in stereotyping that can lead to things like bullying of Muslim students,” CAIR Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said in a statement.
The show was also slammed on Twitter for being racist.
An ABC Family spokesperson tried to downplay the outrage over the show and told The Hollywood Reporter: “The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project.”
A New York family filed a lawsuit this week after they were forcibly escorted out of the Empire State Building when they began kneeling on the observation deck to pray to Mecca.
Fahad Tirmizi, his wife, and their two young children were on the observation deck on July around 11 p.m., when the family’s "religious beliefs require them to recite the evening prayers wherever they may be at the time," according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan District Court.
The couple knelt in an isolated area of the deck, where they claim there was little foot traffic.
No one disturbed his wife, Amina, but a guard interrupted Fahad’s prayer. The claim says the guard “menacingly poked” him "with his hands and feet several times in various parts of his body.”
The guard told Fahad he wasn’t allow to pray on the observation deck, which hosts annual wedding ceremonies on Valentine's Day and even acrobatic performances from Cirque du Soleil.
The family was then “forcibly” escorted to the ground floor exit. The lawsuit says they were "shamed, humiliated and embarrassed in front of each other, their children, and the general public.”
The family is suing the publicly owned Empire State Building management company, two security guards and the security firm that employs them.
The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages for multiple civil rights violations and violations of the first and 14th Amendments.
"The claims are totally without merit and we will respond to them in court,” Empire State Realty Trust spokeswoman, Brandy Bergman, told CNN.
The family’s attorney, Phillip Hines, told CNN that removing people who pray is evidence of an “unwritten rule or policy being enforced.”
"They weren't bothering anybody, they were out of the way, and for them to be thrown out of the building is just an ignorant and shameful exercise in discriminatory conduct," Hines said.
Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, released a statement Wednesday supports the Tirmizi’s.
“Muslims who pray in public, including in public accommodations, are simply exercising their constitutional rights,” the statement said. “In play are two First Amendment rights: freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We hope that Hines investigates the extent to which security guards are expected to censor religious speech. We wish him, and this innocent Muslim couple, well."
Dozens of women gathered in Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday to protest a proposed law that would allow girls in the country to be married off at just nine years old. The law would also grant full custody of children to fathers, robbing mothers of the ability to make decisions regarding their children.
“On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning,” human rights activist Hanaa Eduar said during the protest. “We believe that this is a crime against humanity. It would deprive a girl of her right to live a normal childhood.”
The proposed bill was put forward by Justice Minister Hasaan al-Shimari, a member of the country’s Shi’ite Islamist Fadila party. Shi’ite parties in Iraq first tried to pass a similar law in 2003 after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Shi’ite leaders who defend the law say it is in line with the freedom granted in the country’s constitution to enforce religious morality through legislation.
“This is the core of the freedom,” Shi’ite lawmaker Hussein al-Mura’abi argued. “Based on the Iraqi constitution, each component of the Iraqi people has the right to regulate its personal status in line with the instructions of its religion and doctrine.”
Iraq’s current laws grant women extensive rights regarding marriage, inheritance, and child custody. Together, the current statutes have been hailed as some of the most progressive in the Middle East.
The proposed law would change all of this. Among other things, the bill claims girls reach puberty at age nine and can be married off accordingly. It grants fathers complete custody of children at age two, and legally allows men to demand sex from their wives at any time.
Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations representative to Iraq, says the bill “risks constitutionally protected rights for women and international commitment.”
It is not clear if the bill will pass in Iraq’s parliament amongst strong opposition from secular representatives.
A Legoland theme park in the U.K. was supposed to host a "Muslim family fun day" for 1,000 Muslim families this weekend, but has cancelled the event because right wing extremists made threats.
The Muslim Research and Development Foundation had scheduled the private event at Legoland, but the Windsor, England amusement park received abusive and threatening messages on its Facebook page, noted The Guardian.
According to AFP, before the Muslim fun day was cancelled, a member of the right-wing British National Party said Legoland should be "ashamed of themselves for bowing to these Muslims."
"The Legoland Windsor resort has had to close the hotel on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 March 2014 after threats from right-wing groups," a Legoland spokeswoman said in a statement. "The safety and security of our guests and our members of staff has to be our number one priority, which is why we've made the difficult decision to close the hotel."
The right-wing English Defence League applauded the decision on its website:
"We are pleased to hear that Legoland Windsor Resort has listened to the complaints of the EDL, its members and concerned members of the public and decided to cancel this event," the website reads.
In response to the cancellation, the Muslim Research and Development Foundation posted on its website:
"Together with these threats, publication of several articles in the national press helped fuel further hatred and resentment towards the event, resulting in further negative impact on the security of the event," the response reads. "It was evident from these hate articles and threats that this was not an attack on MRDF alone but was an outright attack on Islam and Muslims in the UK."
A petition to ban Katy Perry’s "blasphemous" music video “Dark Horse” from Youtube has more than 35,000 signatures.
Released on YouTube Feb. 20, Perry’s video, set in ancient Egypt, shows a man wearing an Allah pendant gradually disintegrating into a pile of sand.
“Such goes to show, that blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video, since Katy Perry (who appears to be representing an opposition of God) engulfs the believer and the word God in flames,” says the Change.org petition.
“This is the reason for lodging the petition so that people from different walks of life, different religions and from different parts of the world agree that the video promotes blasphemy, using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful manner would be considered inappropriate by any religion," it states.
Supporters of the ban appear to be from all over the world.
“We are Muslims and that is Allah's name on his neck and she burns it that's great disrespect to Islam yet these lot say we are the bad ones well hah shame on these people,” wrote Nida Ahmed of the United Kingdom.
“I am a Muslim and I find this highly disrespectful and inappropriate,” wrote Reena Mikaeel of Singapore.
Ghallil Almahdaoui of the Netherlands wrote, “1:15 shows a man being burned with the sign of the most beautiful religion in history and future.”
Perry has not responded to the petition. She has garnered criticism in the past for cultural insensitivity, when she performed at the 2013 American Music Awards dressed as a geisha.
A fatwa committee in the United Arab Emirates has forbidden Muslims from moving to Mars.
The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) has ruled that traveling to Mars poses an unjustified risk to the lives of Muslims and to do so would be akin to suicide.
The ruling coming after the private Dutch space company Mars One began accepting applications as part of a campaign to send crews of four to Mars every two years, beginning in 2024. These are one-way trips, while the company establishes a permanent human colony on the Red Planet.
GAIAE says any Muslim who takes the “hazardous” journey will die for no “righteous reason,” leaving them to suffer “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter.”
“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said. “There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.”
“Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful,” the committee said.
The committee believes the Mars One trips might be used by those who wish to escape punishment or the judgment of Allah, but they warn this is impossuble.
“Man’s life is not his or her own property; it is God’s creation, and therefore suicide is prohibited in all religions, and of course by law,” said Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf, Imam of the Amena mosque.