Dutch Cabinet Backs Partial Burqa Ban

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

170px-Burqa_Afghanistan_01The Dutch Cabinet voted to draft a bill to enforce a ban on wearing the Islamic burqa in various government buildings and institution. Citing what were described as security concerns, the government in a statement declared “Face-covering clothing will in [the] future not be accepted in education and healthcare institutions, government buildings and on public transport.”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated to journalists: “The bill does not have any religious background.”

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Gay Marriage Referendum Passes In Ireland. Unresolved Issues Will Remain

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Flag_of_Ireland_svgWith all constituencies reporting, the Irish citizenry approved a constitutional amendment recognizing gay marriage: Yes 1,201,607; No 734,300.

The Constitution of Ireland permits amendment only by popular vote. A vote of the people for such amendments can provide more legitimacy and acceptance by the public and judging by the margin gay marriage will probably gain acceptance more readily. Nevertheless it does not necessarily engender full acceptance of such partnerships as over seven hundred thousand voters chose otherwise. Some institutions in Irish society will struggle to come to terms with the new direction Ireland is pursuing.

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Irish Voters Abroad Returning Home To Vote On Same-Sex Marriage Referendum

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

100px-Coat_of_arms_of_Ireland.svgOn Friday Irish Citizens went to the polls to vote by referendum on a constitutional amendment allowing same-sex marriage. If passed Ireland will join nineteen other nation states who have legalized such marriages and will be the first to enact the petition by popular referendum.

The topic of the referendum garnered such strong interest it is expected that a large percentage of Ireland’s 3.2 million registered voters will go to  the polls. In fact, reportedly, unexpectedly high numbers returned home at their personal expense to cast votes.

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Poll: Secular Americans On The Rise With Sharp Increase In Those Without Religion Affiliation

170px-rembrandt_harmensz-_van_rijn_079-1There is an interesting new Pew poll that shows that the number of Americans without affiliation to any religion is continuing to rise — as is the number of Americans who now classify themselves as atheists or agnostics. The numbers of “nones” has grown to 56 million in recent years, making it the second largest number behind evangelicals. From 2007 to 2014, Americans describing themselves as as atheist, agnostic or of no particular faith grew from 16 percent to nearly 23 percent. This is roughly one out of four Americans. Pew found a rising tide of secularism in the United States. It is an interesting poll since religious groups tend to have far greater political power in the country as shown by various “faith-based” policies.

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Third Secular Writer Hacked To Death By Islamic Extremists In Bangladesh

Ananta-Bijoy-Das_3300494iWe have been covering the attacks on secular writers and bloggers by Islamic extremists in Bangladesh. Now a third blogger and secular writer has been murdered by Islamic extremists . The latest victim is Ananta Bijoy Das, a blogger who advocated secularism, was attacked by four masked assailants wielding machetes. The rise of Islamic extremism has alarmed the free speech community in Bangladesh, which sees increasing Islamic orthodoxy in society and intolerance for non-Islamic views.

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Four Teenagers and a Teacher Arrested For “insulting Islam” After Making Videotape Mocking ISIS

video_clip_253x338Egypt continues to descend toward a Sharia-based system with a new prosecution of four teenagers accused of “insulting Islam.”  The insult came in a video that the boys shot while on a trip with their teacher Gad Younan, 42 – a film that mocked ISIS.  While the boys were accused of insulting Islam, the brief video only showed them mocking ISIS beheadings.  One of the boys apparently mumbled an Islam prayer as part of the execution and that was enough to cause riots and demands for their executions.  The four teens and teacher are from the ancient Coptic community, a community targeted by Muslim extremists for harassment and killings.

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Afghan Court Sentences Four To Death in Farkhunda Murder As Islamic Clerics Denounce The Verdict As Attack On Islam

thThere is a verdict in the horrific case that we discussed earlier involving the mob beating and burning of a woman named Farkhunda, 27. A judge has sentenced four of those responsible to death in Kabul. Eight other suspects received 16-year sentences. Eighteen others were found not guilty.

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