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  1. Atheism on the rise in Iraq

    IRAQ PULSE إقرأ باللغة العربية نبض العراق Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Iraqi National Alliance party, speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily) Islamic parties intimidate, fear atheists in Iraq NAJAF, Iraq — Iraq's Islamic movements and political parties have intensified their rhetoric in recent weeks against atheism, warning Iraqis about its spread and the need to confront atheists. Such movements and parties worry that public sentiment is turning against Islamic parties in politics and that this could be reflected in upcoming elections, scheduled for the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018. Summary⎙ Print Islamic parties in Iraq have intensified their rhetoric against atheists, with one prominent cleric calling for them to be confronted with an "iron fist." Author Ali MamouriPosted June 22, 2017 TranslatorSahar Ghoussoub In a lecture this month in Baghdad, Ammar al-Hakim — head of the mostly Shiite Iraqi National Alliance party, which holds the overwhelming political majority in parliament and government — warned against the prevalence of atheism. “Some people resent Iraqi society’s adherence to religious principles and its connection to God Almighty,” he said. Hakim called for “confronting these extraneous atheistic ideas with good thinking and with an iron fist against the supporters of such ideas by exposing the methods they use in disseminating their ideas.” Hakim’s message is contrary to the Iraqi Constitution, which guarantees freedom of belief and expression and criminalizes incitement against others and against compelling others to adopt or reject a specific faith. During Ramadan, religious lectures in Shiite cities in Iraq's center and south — the main base of the Islamic parties — attacked the spread of secular and atheistic ideas, which are viewed as threats to Iraqi society. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has extensive influence among the politically ambitious pro-Iranian factions within the Popular Mobilization Units military organization. He warned May 30 of a supposed dangerous conspiracy by secular and nonreligious movements to take power from Islamic parties and gain control for themselves. Atheism in Arab culture, as described by contemporary Egyptian philosopher Abdel Rahman Badawi in his book, “The History of Atheism,” covers a vast range of ideas and behaviors. To Badawi, atheism includes agnostics, emerging secular movements that reject the political role of religion, and those who criticize various aspects of religion. Secularism and atheism are thus often intertwined in the discourse of political Islam through the use of terms such as “secular atheist trends and ideas.” These ideas inspire fear in many politically-oriented Islamic movements. According to Sayyid Qutb, a founder of political Islam who is widely studied by Islamists in Iraq, separating religion from political rule is tantamount to infidelity to God and denying divine governance. Defunct Kurdish news agency AKnews conducted a nonscientific poll in 2011 about faith. When asked if they believed in God, 67% of respondents answered yes; 21%, probably yes; 4%, probably no; 7%, no; and 1% had no answer. In a country that has not seen a national census for three decades, it's not possible to provide official numbers for members of different faiths and beliefs. It is especially difficult to know the size of those communities that hold taboo beliefs in a conservative society such as Iraq, which views these outsiders with disdain and where they are threatened by military groups and political leaders, some of whom demand they be beaten "with an iron fist." Much of what information can be gleaned comes in anecdotal form. Since 2014, after the Islamic State swept through Iraqi territory, many reports from various quarters have observed that more people are skeptical of Islamic beliefs and are rejecting Islam altogether, influenced by the negative image of Islam portrayed by extremist groups. A prominent book store in Baghdad has seen more young people buying books on atheism from prominent nonbelievers such as Saudi writer Abdullah al-Qasemi and British philosopher Richard Dawkins. Even in a holy city like Najaf and within the Shiite religious establishments, Al-Monitor spoke to several religious students who not only have begun to question the fundamental beliefs of Islam, but the basic principles of religion in general. They would be ostracized by society in a heartbeat if they expressed their views freely. Human rights activist, writer and satirist Faisal Saeed al-Mutar told Al-Monitor that atheists in Iraq face very difficult circumstances under a government with a majority of Islamic parties and with the dominance of Islamic militias over society. Faisal, who follows Iraqi atheists' activities on social media, said, “I clearly see that the numbers of atheists is rising in different areas in Iraq.” Faisal recently founded the Ideas Beyond Borders organization, which defends Iraqi atheists and helps them organize and claim their rights. Many atheists have been forced to flee Iraq because of harassment and threats. Jamal al-Bahadly, an atheist who is vocal about his views on social networking sites, said he received death threats from Shiite militias in Baghdad, forcing him to leave the country in 2015. He emigrated to Germany. “As an atheist, I was deprived of the most basic civil rights in Iraq. I feel that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not include me and my fellow atheists in Iraq," Bahadly told Al-Monitor. Iraq voted in favor of the declaration in 1948 at the United Nations General Assembly. Leaders of Islamic movements repeatedly say they've seen a rise in the number of atheists in Iraq. Their statements of concern fuel even more concern among the ruling Islamic parties, who fear a decline in their political power. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/06/iraq-atheism-political-islam-human-rights.html#ixzz4ksjn51FT Source: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/06/iraq-atheism-political-islam-human-rights.html
  2. IRAN PULSE نبض ایران Mohsen Forouzan and his wife Nasim Nahali pose together for a photo, uploaded Nov. 23, 2016. (photo by Instagram/@mohsenforozan) Iranians rally behind soccer player suspended over wife’s modeling Last June, Mohsen Forouzan, a goalkeeper formerly with Tehran’s Esteghlal Football Club, posted a photo on Instagram to announce his engagement to Iranian model Nasim Nahali. The photo quickly triggered reactions since Nahali was unveiled and the timing of the post coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. The Young Journalists Club, which is affiliated with Iran’s state broadcaster, immediately described it as “a matter far [removed] from Sharia and ethics.” Summary⎙ Print The suspension of an Iranian soccer player over his wife’s modeling has led to a public and media outcry. Author Zahra AlipourPosted June 16, 2017 Almost one year later, on May 23, the Iranian Football Federation’s Ethics Committee issued a ruling to suspend Forouzan from all official soccer activities for three months. The reason for the move was described as due to “materialistic measures adopted by his wife” that “had circulated in social media networks and later in public opinion, without observing Islamic principles and ethics and thus harming the credibility of football and the good reputation of the Football Federation among the public.” But what were the “materialistic measures” taken by Forouzan’s wife? According to the media and Iran’s soccer community, the ruling referred to her “modeling activities.” Born in 1989, Nahali is a model for wedding dresses and various manteau, long coats commonly worn by Iranian women outside their homes. Like most Iranian models, Nahali often posted pictures of herself on Instagram. However, according to the Young Journalists Club, “Some of her pictures on social media did not observe the appropriate dress code [in Iran],” which is why her spouse was apparently suspended. The suspension not only sparked objections on social media, but also prompted sports journalists, legal experts and the managers of several soccer clubs to voice criticism. In an Instagram post addressed to Mehdi Taj, the president of Iran’s Football Federation, former Persepolis Football Club and Bayern Munich player Ali Karimi wrote, “A few questions! Sir, do these rulings also include the football players’ families? Is it legal to communicate this ruling with a single signature? Thank God I have retired.” Ali Aali, the editor of the popular Iranian monthly Donya-e Football (World of Football), told Al-Monitor that based on FIFA rules, the Iranian Football Federation’s Ethics Committee does not have the right to interfere in players’ personal lives. He also said that any control or monitoring of such matters can only be carried out through individual player contracts and by the relevant soccer clubs. Aali added, “This is not the first example of the federation interfering in matters outside its scope of responsibilities. These events show that Iranian football is being managed by people who have no knowledge of football. Such encounters are not acceptable in Iran’s football community, and legal experts view them as interference in the players’ private lives.” Soon after Forouzan’s suspension, Nahali removed all her pictures from Instagram while Forouzan himself thanked the public and the media for their “support” and said in an interview, “I will object to this ruling considering that, fortunately, they have granted me the right to object.” This led to media speculations about the possibility of Forouzan raising his objections with FIFA itself. Abdollah Samami, a member of the Iranian Football Federation’s Ethics Committee responded to these speculations in an interview with the Young Journalists Club, saying, “FIFA accepts Iran’s disciplinary committee as a decision-making body and I doubt this goalkeeper will get anywhere [with his objection].” Meanwhile, Mizan News Agency, which is affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, interviewed Taj. During the interview, which took place soon after the ruling, Taj spoke of Forouzan’s suspension being lifted and that his file was being sent to the federation’s appeals committee, saying, “Another objection to Mohsen Forouzan’s ruling was that one cannot ban an individual because of someone else’s mistake. Our efforts are aimed at solving the problem and ending everything well.” According to Aali, the lifting of the ban on Forouzan was the result of objections raised on social media. He told Al-Monitor, “In fact, the Ethics Committee is planning to review violations outside the football field, such as bribery, collusion, betting, etc. … The committee has not given priority to these issues … in recent years. For example, there are cases about collusion and bribery in Iranian football, the condition of football schools and also a report by parliament’s Article 90 commission about corruption in football that have not been pursued yet.” Aali added, “In [Iran’s] football, minor issues are prioritized over the main ones. However, the atmosphere in society no longer allows for meddling in players’ lives that easily. The criticisms [over the suspension of Forouzan] were also centered on this and [the question of] what the inappropriate clothing of a football player’s wife has to do with the player himself or his playing football.” The domestication of FIFA’s Code of Ethics by Iran’s Football Federation has led to many soccer players being summoned to the Ethics Committee in past years. On June 8, 2016, Sosha Makani, a goalkeeper for Persepolis Football Club, was suspended from domestic competitions for six months for wearing “inappropriate clothing.” Six months later, in December 2016, Masoud Shojaei, who plays for Iran’s national soccer team and the Greek club Panionios, was called in for discussing corruption in Iranian soccer in an interview with a foreign media outlet. Mehdi Rahmati, the goalkeeper for Esteghlal, was also summoned the same month for taking a picture with a woman who was not wearing a headscarf during a team camp in Armenia. Following news of Forouzan’s suspension, Mizan News Agency confirmed unofficial reports circulated in Iranian sports media about the suspension of 10 soccer players by the Ethics Committee, writing, “These suspensions are an indication that the Ethics Committee is pursuing and observing ethical issues in Iran’s football in an obvious manner.” Although Mizan made no mention of the players’ names or the reasons behind their suspension, other media outlets claimed that the players all belonged to Iranian Premier League clubs and were facing suspensions ranging from three to six months. The reasons? Attending female hair salons, betting on gambling sites, going to evening parties, engaging in “noncustomary relations and actions” or facing private complaints. At present, the Iranian Football Federation’s Ethics Committee is headed by Judge Morteza Turak, a former administrator of the court in Evin Prison. Turak was also present at the trials of notorious businessmen Mahafarid Amir Khosravi and Babak Zanjani, the focus of two of Iran’s biggest corruption cases in recent years. In the case of Amir Khosravi, Turak was in charge of implementing the prosecutor general’s ruling, which was execution. For the Zanjani trial, he provided an evaluation of the businessman’s assets in his capacity as deputy chief of justice of Tehran. In an interview with the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency in March 2016, Turak discussed whether soccer players should be penalized for having tattoos or their hair styled in certain ways. She said, “Some topics may not fit within the framework and principles of FIFA, but they fit within our Sharia principles. In these cases, our Sharia principles will govern the rules. This is what domestication means, and FIFA has accepted the concept of domestication.” Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/06/iran-football-forouzan-nasim-nahali-modeling-outcry.html#ixzz4kbguMyCC Source: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/06/iran-football-forouzan-nasim-nahali-modeling-outcry.html
  3. Male prostitution on the rise in Lebanon World's oldest profession the only option in Beirut for some refugee and undocumented migrant men. Destitute and desperate in Lebanon, some men are turning to prostitution [Paul du Verdie/Transterra Media] by Paul Du Verdie Beirut, Lebanon - In an economically troubled, conservative country where homosexual behaviour is taboo, a growing number of men are prostituting themselves to scrape together a living. When talking about his life "Hassan" hesitates, the words coming out with difficulty as he chain-smokes cigarettes and fiddles with his sweatshirt. His work could have him arrested, beaten up and jailed. Hassan, a 27-year-old Sunni from Iraq, is a male prostitute and has been selling himself for money in Beirut for a year. This was not a lifestyle that he ever wanted, but something he says was forced upon him. He insists he would have chosen another path "had I been given the choice". Hassan - who asked his real name not be used - was forced to leave his country after his family found out about his homosexuality and threatened to kill him. Fearful for his life, he fled Iraq and was smuggled into Lebanon, along with five other refugees, by an NGO he refuses to name. After a few months, he was evicted from his flat after getting involved in a fight. Alone, still unemployed and desperate for any way to make money, he heard about bars in bourgeois areas of Beirut where men would pay high prices to spend a few hours with young men like him. A couple of days later, a wealthy entrepreneur from Turkey picked him up at a gay club located in the heart of the capital. After a drink and a short discussion about prices, they left together. The next morning Hassan was given $400 from the first of what would become many "clients". He was now a male escort. 'Temporary situation' His is not an isolated story. "Fouad", a 20-year-old Christian student who fled from Syria to avoid being forced into the army last summer, now works in a hammam, or men's bath-house, near a tourist area of Hamra in west Beirut. Fouad, who also requested anonymity, gives "special" massages to any customer who asks. All of his co-workers are Syrian as well and offer the same kind of services. Instead of being paid by the owner of the hammam, they "rent" their position there for a fee, then arrange rates directly with the clients. It's a temporary situation. As soon as I have saved enough money, I will go back to Syria to finish my studies. - male prostitute in Beirut Like Hassan, Fouad says there was nowhere else to turn but to a life of prostitution. "It's a temporary situation," Fouad says. "As soon as I have saved enough money, I will go back to Syria to finish my studies." It is difficult to be sure whether he believes in what he says, given the ongoing civil war in his country, but like several of his coworkers, Fouad is eager to return to a normal life. In the meantime, he and the other sex workers wait, bare-chested with white towels tied around their waists, standing against a fake stone wall next to the entrance, hoping for - and fearing - a busy night. They are all young and healthy-looking. Some even joke and laugh, while others do not talk at all and never make eye contact with potential clients smoking shisha in the lobby. Easier than ever According to several NGOs working with male escorts, thousands of men such as Hassan and Fouad have turned to prostitution in Beirut, offering everything from sexual favours to simple company to their clients. Clients tend to be wealthy middle-aged men from Lebanon, Turkey, the Gulf states and as far away as North Africa. Some became escorts after arriving from a country torn apart by war, having nowhere to turn; others found themselves with bills to pay and children to feed with no chance of employment. The fact that one can anonymously use gay social networks such as Grindr or Manjam to meet clients in a matter of minutes - or look for potential ones in Beirut's gay bars, clubs or hammams - makes it easier for these male prostitutes to stay safe and to keep their job a secret. Despite homosexual activity being illegal in Lebanon, Beirut is widely regarded as the safest place for homosexuals in the Middle East. Police rarely raid the hammams and nightclubs - since their owners pay good money to avoid crack downs. The world-famous Lebanese band Mashrou Leila has an openly gay singer. And the younger generations tend to be more much more open-minded about sexual preferences than the older ones. This perceived safe haven is well known in the region, and has since made Beirut the go-to destination for Middle Eastern tourists wanting to express their sexuality more freely. Before the violence and instability in Lebanon turned them away, wealthy gay men from the Gulf countries were especially prominent, ready to pay up to a few thousand dollars - in cash, jewellery or designer clothes - for a night with an escort. But such high prices are by no means the norm. Most clients are understood to pay about $200 for a Lebanese escort. Syrian men reportedly tend to cost less, only $50 on average. But even at this low price, many Syrian refugees in Lebanon choose this option, given the alternative: desperate searching for terribly paid jobs. Syrian war's effect "There have always been male sex workers in Lebanon. It was common knowledge," says an outreach programme coordinator with Helem, a Lebanese LGBT-rights NGO. "But since the US invasion of Iraq, and even more so with the Syrian civil war, there are more of them than ever before." That is because many of the 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon have a difficult time finding jobs, and end up severely struggling to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families. In 2012, a study by the RAND Corporation showed among Lebanese and Syrian sex workers, about 40 percent and 68 percent, respectively, defined themselves as heterosexual. Since the Geneva II peace conference is showing little progress and the Syrian war rages on, poverty-stricken Syrians in Beirut have little chance to see their future improve any time soon. With many tourists avoiding Lebanon because of political unrest, the escorts may soon find themselves running short of clients. Hassan does not know what will happen then. "When I left my country and struggled to eat, I thought it could not get worse. When I started at the hammam, I was certain it could not get worse. Now, I do not know what to expect." A version of this story was originally published by Transterra Media. Source: Al Jazeera
  4. Lebanese ban Wonder Woman movie

    Lebanon's Wonder Woman Ban The superhero film was barred from Lebanese theaters following an outcry over its lead actress, who served in the Israeli army. An billboard advertising the "Wonder Woman" film, which was banned in Lebanon, is pictured near an army post in Beirut on May 31, 2017.Mohamed Azakir / Reuters YASMEEN SERHAN MAY 31, 2017 Lebanon’s interior ministry banned the release of the new Wonder Woman film in the country’s theaters Wednesday following an outcry over its lead actress, Gal Gadot, an Israeli. The last-minute decision was announced just hours ahead of the film’s slated premiere. Though it had passed the country’s screening procedures and was widely promoted leading up to the premiere, the film’s release prompted an outcry from the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon, a Lebanese group that urged the government to block what it described as the “Israeli Soldier film,” in apparent reference to Gadot’s service in the Israeli army—a conscription that is mandatory for most Israeli citizens. Gadot’s military experience was highlighted when the actress posted a photo of herself praying with her daughter during the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014. Though the country’s ministry of economy said in a statement Monday that it requested the ban due to Gadot’s role in the film, such action has not been taken against other films with Israeli leads. As Lebanese blogger Elie Fares notes, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Fast & Furious films, both of which starred Gadot, were not banned from the country’s theaters; neither have films starring Natalie Portman, the Israeli-born actress. Though there has been no major confrontation between Lebanon and Israel since 2006, the two countries do not have diplomatic relations. Indeed, Lebanon is officially considered at war with Israel and has imposed a decades-long economic boycott on its southern neighbor. Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/05/banning-wonder-woman-in-lebanon/528657/
  5. The topic on Palestine starts at 5:03:
  6. The Internet Ruined Islam

    I believe the brother is referring to the way the knowledge is being presented as opposed to the knowledge itself. For instance, there many cases where uneducated Islamophobes use non-authentic hadiths to defame the prophet or portray him in a negative light.
  7. Why Iranian women are wearing white on Wednesdays By Nassim Hatam BBC News 14 June 2017 From the sectionMiddle East Women are wearing white and discarding headscarves in protest against Iran's dress code A new social media campaign against a law which forces women to wear a headscarf is gaining momentum in Iran. Using the hashtag #whitewednesdays, citizens have been posting pictures and videos of themselves wearing white headscarves or pieces of white clothing as symbols of protest. The idea is the brainchild of Masih Alinejad, founder of My Stealthy Freedom, an online movement opposed to the mandatory dress code. Before the 1979 Islamic revolution many Iranian women wore Western-style outfits, including miniskirts and short-sleeved tops, but this all changed when the late Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. Women were not only forced to cover their hair in line with a strict interpretation of Islamic law on modesty, but also to stop using make-up and to start wearing knee-length manteaus. More than 100,000 women and men took to the streets to protest against the law in 1979, and opposition to it has never gone away. Conservatives want the Iranian authorities to enforce the dress code In the three years that it has been running, My Stealthy Freedom has received more than 3,000 photos and videos showing women without their heads covered. While pictures posted on My Stealthy Freedom sites are usually taken in secret to avoid being caught by the authorities, #whitewednesdays gives women a platform to demonstrate in public. Taking risks Now in its fifth week, #whitewednesdays has already attracted a considerable following - more than 200 videos were sent to Ms Alinejad in the first two weeks, some of which have already had 500,000 views. "I'm so pumped up to be in this campaign," one contributor says in a video as she walks down a main road. "I want to talk to you of my imprisonment... they imposed hijab on me since I was seven," she says, shaking her headscarf loose, "while I never felt committed to it and won't be." Some women have been brazen in their show of support for #whitewednesdays Ms Alinejad says she is amazed by the demonstrations of courage - some women have sent in videos of themselves walking the streets without headscarves altogether. "When I expressed my concern about [one contributor's] safety, she replied that she would rather jeopardise her job than continue living under this oppression that the Iranian women have endured for the last 38 years." The campaign has cut across generational boundaries For Ms Alinejad, the project is a labour of love. She runs the campaign herself, with occasional help from a small number of volunteers, and sometimes stays up all night getting the videos up online. Most of the pictures and videos come from inside Iran, but Ms Alinejad has also had contributions from Saudi Arabia (where the headscarf is also compulsory) and further afield, including Europe and the US. Women around the world, including non-Muslims, have shown their support One woman in Afghanistan wrote about her admiration for the campaign and its participants, even though she herself was too frightened to post a photo without a hijab. Headscarves are not mandatory by law in Afghanistan, but many girls and women are forced by their families to wear them. Media backlash Ms Alinejad says she is emancipating Iranian women, as well as the men who support them. One participant said it was important because "even if this leads me to jail and sleeping with cockroaches, it would be worth it to help the next generation". Ms Alinejad sees herself as helping, rather than heading, the campaign. Iranian women, she says, "are taking the lead themselves, they don't need me, they just needed a platform... and I provided them with that". Masih Alinejad says the women who are posting are courageous Her actions have come at a cost though. Ms Alinejad, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US, has not been to Iran since 2009 and at the moment cannot go back to her home country for fear of arrest. Following this latest campaign, the chief editor of Iran's Tasnim news agency published a photo of Ms Alinejad with her husband, calling her a prostitute. Mashregh News, a website said to be affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), carried an old family photo of her with her mother, who wears a head-to-toe black chador, and her father. The caption says in bold: "Death to you Masih." Ms Alinejad is defiant, saying none of the backlash will stop her from fighting to win women back their freedom. Her sights are now set on turning the campaign into a concerted global movement, where more women around the world identify with #whitewednesdays and make a simple fashion statement as a powerful show of support. Source:http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40218711
  8. History, Quran violent?

    They got the money from conquests and acquisitions of lands not forced conversions. A conquest of land does not automatically guarantee forced conversion.
  9. History, Quran violent?

    Those all don't address the question on forced conversions. The Ummayads were good to Non Muslims it was Muslims that sided with Imam Ali that they suppressed.
  10. Middle eastern not going forward

    Yes but ethnic rivalries and the political instability in the Middle East do not.
  11. Sharia law for everyone is bad?

    Also it has typically been shown by most scholars the Sharia only applies to Muslims and Non Muslims are exempt from the Sharia. Many of the graphic depictions of the Sharia shown by the media are often inaccurate, for instance, honor killings have nothing to do with the Sharia yet the media purports that they are.
  12. Sharia law for everyone is bad?

    This video clarify many of the issues regarding the Sharia:
  13. Sharia law for everyone is bad?

    If the person is mentally disabled the Hudud punishment does not count.
  14. History, Quran violent?

    Anytime.
  15. History, Quran violent?

    Of course brother but much of this is speculation.
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