Taslima Nasrin Attacked
Bengali atheist, physician and novelist Taslima Nasrin was attacked by a mob of Muslim activists at a booksigning in Hyderabad on Aug. 9.
Muslim protesters assaulted the exiled Bangladeshi author and feminist at the launch of her book, Getting Even, incensed by her repeated criticism of Islam and religion in general. Some radical Muslims hate Nasrin for saying Islam and other religions oppress women, according to a Reuters News Service report.
About 100 people burst into the Press Club, shouting insults and ransacking the place, throwing chairs in the air and overturning tables. A protester slapped the author. Police detained nearly all of the protesters, including three lawmakers who belong to the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen political party in Andhra Pradesh state.
Nasrin fled Bangladesh in 1994 when Islamic holy men issued a fatwah to kill her. Leading Muslim cleric Noorul Rahman Barkati offered a new reward of 50,000 rupees ($1,200) for anybody who would blacken her face, and urged Indian authorities to deport her to Bangladesh.
Hindu Senate Prayer Disrupted
A Hindu clergyman who gave the first Hindu prayer in the U.S. Senate's history on July 12 was interrupted by shouting Christian protesters in the visitors' gallery.
As Rajan Zed, of Reno, Nev., started his invocation, two women and a man began shouting: "Lord Jesus, forgive us, Father, for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight. This is an abomination. We shall have no other gods before You." They screamed, "We are Christians and patriots," "No Lord but Jesus Christ!" and "There's only one true God!" as police handcuffed and led them away.
The Mississippi-based American Family Association had urged its members to object to the prayer because Zed would be "seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god." The protesters identified themselves as belonging to the antiabortion group Operation Save America.
Hear a clip of the actual disruption, and a discussion of unconstitutional Congressional chaplaincies, on Freethought Radio (July 21). For an update on Operation Save America, listen to the a href="/ <a href=">">Freethought Radio interview of Emily Lyons (July 28).
"No Sex" Lessons Bomb
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics in July confirming that the percentage of U.S. teens having sex has remained the same, despite the "abstinence-only" sex education message of the federal government. Federal rules for sex education require that states taking funds teach "abstinence only," which censors birth control information to conform to fundamentalist Christian morality. Eleven state health departments outright reject the funding. Many "faith-based" groups have received tax dollars to preach abstinence.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, Florida ranks second only to Texas in the amount of federal money ($10.7 million) it has received for abstinence-only sex education. Yet teens in Florida are slightly more apt to have sex than the national average.
Tot Victim of Bizarre Exorcism
Police entered a Phoenix home on July 28 and found a grandfather holding his 3-year-old granddaughter in a headlock, "trying to squeeze the demons out of her," as her 19-year-old mother stood naked and bloody, holding a religious picture and chanting.
The Catholic grandfather, Ronald Marquez, who was Tasered by police and handcuffed, died in police custody. The toddler was released from medical care and taken into protective custody. The young mother was treated for extensive facial injuries.