Video of the Day (Brokeback Muhammad)

To take our minds off the abuses of Islam – lets get into the meat of the issues.
That is, what really happened to Muhammad while receiving revelations?

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Sixteen Christian Converts Arrested…and Beaten (Iran)

Tehran, 29 July (AKI) – Sixteen Iranians who converted from Islam to Christianity were arrested on Tuesday in Malakshahr, on the outskirts of the central Iranian city of Isfahan.

The six women, eight men and two adolescents who were arrested were assisting in a conversion ceremony and baptism of three new members of the church at a private house that had been transformed into an evangelical church.

The owners of the home, an elderly couple, were allegedly beaten up before they were locked up in an unmarked lorry.

In April, 10 Christian converts were arrested in Shiraz.

The official evangelical churches in Isfahan received orders not to allow any Muslims to attend their ceremonies and not to facilitate in any way the conversions.

Iranian law does not stipulate any punishment for those who convert from Islam to other faiths, even if the converts are subject to repression.

A few months ago, the government presented a bill which is currently being discussed in parliament, to include in the penal code the crime of “Ertedad” which is the act of abandoning the Muslim faith.

If the parliament does approve the law, the punishment for abandoning Islam will be the death penalty.

Religious Police Arrest 55 at ‘gay’ Party (Saudi Arabia)

Riyadh, 30 July (AKI) – Saudi religious police have arrested 55 people at a party allegedly held by homosexuals at a farm in Qatif province in the east of the country.

According to a report on the Arab satellite TV channel, al-Arabiya, two young men were allegedly found wearing women’s make up and dancing on stage together.

The detainees were all handcuffed when they were arrested. Saudi police said during their search they found drugs and alcohol and other items that are prohibited under the country’s strict Sharia law.

A similar police blitz was carried out more than a month ago at another farmhouse in the same area where 21 alleged homosexuals were arrested. Some of those arrested were Filipinos and Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia.

Many of them were reportedly wearing women’s clothes and makeup at the party which was organised to celebrate the birthday of one of the group’s members.

On that occasion, religious police found alcohol, clothing and makeup hidden inside.

Muslims storm Protestant school in Jakarta, injuring 265 students

Police evacuated the Christian Theological Arastamar Institute (STT SETIA) which is located in an eastern district of the Indonesian capital after it suffered damages during clashes between Christians and Muslims over the week-end. At least 1,500 students were moved to nearby police headquarters and a local Christian-based political party. The situation remains critical and further violence between opposite factions cannot be ruled out.“The school foundation urged us to intervene to protect people,” said East Jakarta District Police Chief Senior Superintendent. “For this reason we moved everyone out.”

Last night hundreds of residents from the village of Kampung Pulo had taken up arms threatening to storm the school after being instigated by an imam at a local mosque who claimed that a bunch of Christian gangsters were coming to “protect” the school after it was attacked on Saturday by a Muslim mob, causing damage to the building and hurting hundreds.

In an attempt to solve the problem East Jakarta District Chief Murdani held a close door meeting with the warring parties to discuss the issue. At the same time though, he said that police would conduct a thorough investigation and check if the school’s legal status was in order and that it respected all building regulations. In case of violations he would issue orders to demolish the unlawful structures.

At present hundreds of agents are guarding the school and have orders to stop any act of violence and disarm people.

The Arastamar High School for Theology and Biblical Studies, locally known as STT SETIA, was established by Rev Mathew Mangentang in 1987.

The SST SETIA has more than 29 branches school across the country. In Jakarta alone it has thousands of students, including 265 who were injured in latest clashes.

Tensions between Christians and Muslims flared up on Saturday following rumours that a SETIA student had stolen a motorcycle that belonged to a Muslim from a neighbouring village.

Senny Manafe, a spokesperson for the school, rejected the accusation, claiming instead that the attacks were triggered by a trivial incident. In an attempt to chase a mouse in the street, a student threw a slipper against a house owned by a local Muslim. Outraged by the deed, the latter kicked and punched the student as people gathered drawn by the rumour that a Christian student had tried to steal the Muslim’s motorbike.

“Many students suffered various injuries to the head. Others were burnt by Molotov cocktails,” Manafe said.

The violence and charges against SETIA are the work of Risman Hadi, chairman of Muslim Brotherhood Forum of Kampung Pulo Village, who in the past opposed the opening and continued existence of the Christian institute.

Iran: Death to non-Muslims

Lawmakers in Iran are considering a proposal to make the death penalty automatic for those who leave the Muslim faith.

Abe Ghafari of Iranian Christians International, Inc. (ICI) was at least a little surprised to learn the news. “Before, it was like an option that an Islamic judge could decide to use or not to use — but now it will become an automatic thing. And from the language of the legislation, it seems like something that cannot be appealed,” Ghafari contends.

The death penalty would primarily apply to those who convert to the Christian faith. “There are large numbers of conversions from Islam, maybe even in the tens of thousands every year, and this is causing concern in the Islamic circles in Iran,” Ghafari explains.

People who use the Internet to convert people away from the Muslim faith will also be subject to the death penalty. Ghafari was asked if this information shocked him. “Yes, it does a bit because we do know that under Islamic law of Iran, there was always this option of issuing death penalties for any conversions from Islam. So this was already available, but it looks like they just want to escalate persecution – making the death penalty almost automatic for anyone who converts from Islam,” Ghafari adds.

While Christians are the primary target, anyone converting to the Bahá’í faith will also face the death penalty. Ghafari sees trouble ahead, and is hopeful Christians everywhere will pray for the underground church in Iran.

Information on legislation provided by ICI about Iranian apostasy and the death penalty is available here.

Clerics Warn Women Against Leaving Their Homes (Yemen)

A group of Yemeni clerics warned women from going outside of their homes. The order, they claim, is to protect society from “vice and sexual chaos”.

The clerics also said that political role for women contradicts Islamic values.

“We warn against opening the door for women, who will get out of their houses and mix with men,” the clerics stated in a booklet distributed during a meeting.

“Women getting out of their houses and mixing with men in places of work will lead to non-marital relations … loss of decency, adultery and illegal children,” the booklet said.

A question to these clerics would be- why is the onus on the women to give up her basic rights? A woman cannot cause a loss of decency or commit adultery without a man.  Shouldn’t they both be equally culpable?

It is this backwards thinking that does not do women any justice.

Two Teacher-Human Rights Activists Sentences to Death (Iran)

Tehran, 11 July (AKI) – Two Kurdish teachers in Iran, Farzad Kamangar and Farhad Vakili, have been sentenced to death.

The two teachers were known for their work in the campaign calling for greater respect for human rights.

Kamangar, is among the founders of the independent union of teachers in Iranian Kurdistan, and a known trade union activist.

Various international associations and institutions, including the European Union, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have protested against Kamangar’s death sentence.

They have called for a fair and impartial trial for the Kurdish teacher who was accused of “collaborating with armed organisations” and “counter-revolutionary activities”.

The news that Kamangar received the death penalty, even surprised his lawyer who said that they would appeal the sentence at the international court at the Hague.