13 countries punish "apostasy" with death....
..Today’s murder of Shahzahan Bachchu is not even the first attack on secular publishers in the country. At the end of October 2015, there were two further coordinated attacks, this time on freethinking publishing houses in Dhaka. These attacks left publisher Faysal Arefin Dipon dead and publisher Ahmed Rashid Tutul seriously injured. Tutul has since left the country.
Other targets have included secular activists and LGBT publishers.
Various government official including the prime minister Sheikh Hasina have blamed the attacks on atheists criticizing religion, and threatened prosecution under the ICT Act, which criminalizes “hurting religious sentiments”. IHEU has consistently called on the Bangladesh government to stop blaming the victims and to bring the perpetrators of the murders to justice.
One would think that religionists would at least learn that 'submission' should be voluntary and not enforced...
The good news is that Saudi women can now drive cars although other "guardianship laws" are still in place.
MBS, the ruler of Saudi Arabia, is trying to instil a 'moderate Islam' in Saudi Arabia
with unsurprisingly slow progress...
The economy needs a jump-start and the ban rendered much of the female workforce, better educated than their male counterparts, immobile and unemployed, or spending up to half their income on taxis. Now, women are taking driving lessons and applying for jobs as Uber drivers. Celebrations were marred, however, by the arrests of activists ahead of the law-change, a signal that agitating for reform is still not going to be tolerated. Women are still forbidden to defy dress codes, interact with unrelated men or get medical care without permission from male guardians.
An interesting sort of 'inverse parallel' with Iran - it was recently pointed out to me that the rulers of Saudi Arabia were 'pro-western', allowing them to profit from a good relationship with the West even though "Western" notions of democracy, equality and freedom are despised by much of the Saudi population. The inverse is true in Iran where the religionist regime is intensely hostile to the West, despite Westerners having much in common with its well educated population. A big problem seems to be the USA's wildly pro-Israel stance and Iran's declared hostility to the Zionist project.
The world needs an 'honest broker' and the tribalism needs to stop.
Most importantly, it is necessary to view events and issues in the context of the Earth and humanity as a whole. PM May said at a Tory Party Conference in 2016, “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.” That might seem to echo the slogan "America First" a bit.
Support the IHEU...
....In many more countries, "blasphemy" laws are used to stop humanists promoting human rights, including women's rights, LGBTI rights and non-religious rights, when they are accused of "insulting religion".
In recent years, freethinkers have been attacked in countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and India.
Humanists have been threatened with prosecution or violence in countries including Malaysia, Egypt, Afghanistan and Iran.
People have been prosecuted by the state for crimes such as "apostasy" or "promoting atheism" or "enmity against God" in countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan and Pakistan.
And in yet other countries including Poland, Moldova, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia and the United States, populist movements and demagogic leaders have coupled with authoritarian religious movements, creating a toxic atmosphere for democracy, threatening secularism and non-religious rights..