Discrimination faced by non-religious at alarming levels worldwide, new report shows
People who leave a religion, criticise a religion or god, or who are simply non-religious, have this last year experienced serious persecution in many countries, including several where they face the death penalty, according to a new report released today.
The Freedom of Thought report, published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), highlights the discrimination and persecution faced by the non-religious including humanists, atheists, and agnostics.
Humanists UK has welcomed the report saying it highlights the extreme persecution that non-religious people face worldwide and reinforces the need for urgent global action.
For the first time, the report also singles out the top 10 worst countries to be non-religious. The five worst countries to be non-religious are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Maldives and Pakistan. United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Malaysia, Sudan and Brunei Darussalam round off the worst 10.
In 13 countries blasphemy or apostasy is punishable by death.
IHEU president Andrew Copson said: ‘This report paints a dark picture, with significant discrimination faced by our non-religious friends and colleagues around the world. At a time of growing nationalism, we continue to see those who are brave enough to criticise and critique conservative religious leaders demonized as “unpatriotic” and “subversive”.’
Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson added: ‘In too many countries around the world, the situation is going backwards for humanists and other non-religious people. We will be working with the UK Government and other partners here in the UK to help combat this increasing discrimination.’
Countries are measured against a list of criteria under four key categories: constitution and government; education and children’s rights; family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals; and freedom of expression, advocacy of humanists values. Then the countries are ranked by severity from ‘free and equal’, ‘mostly satisfactory’, ‘systemic discrimination’, ‘severe discrimination’ and ‘grave violations’.
World Cup winner Boateng still suffers racism in Germany
Bayern Munich star Jerome Boateng says he still suffers racism, including enduring regular monkey chants, despite having helped Germany to the 2014 World Cup.
The 30-year-old, who has a Ghanaian father, told lifestyle magazine ‘Boa’, which he himself launched, that the explosive issue of immigration in the country has only made the situation worse.
“When I’m warming up on the sidelines I can often hear monkey chants. Me, who played so many matches for Germany,” said the Berlin-born Boateng, who has played 76 times for the German national side.
“Sometimes they’ll say things like ‘go home to your own country’ or they’ll just shout something like ‘you black shit’.”
Boateng, whose brother Kevin-Prince chose to play for Ghana, described several racist incidents from his childhood when parents of opposition players made him cry with their abuse.
He also believes the refugee issue in Germany has made people more wary and liable to label people by their origins.
“One for the Germans, one for the migrants,” said Boateng who was left out of the German squad on Friday for forthcoming matches against Russia and the Netherlands.
“And now there’s another for Germans with foreign parents who are not white, but who feel entirely German because they grew up here. Now we’re being looked at with an air of suspicion.”
Defamation laws for a new age
The man had decided to sue his ex-wife for defamation over an Instagram post in which she referred to his “pea brain” and called him a “chronic psychopathic abuser”.
The Canberra mother hadn’t used her ex’s real name in her post — only “Mr J”, the first initial of his first name — but he nevertheless launched legal action, which has already wound its way between the ACT Magistrates Court and Supreme Court in its preliminary stages.
Welcome to the brave new world of defamation, in which courts are dealing with an explosion of litigation between ex-spouses, neighbours and former business partners settling scores over their social media posts.
Last week, legal bureaucrats from around Australia held a telephone hook-up to discuss potential changes to the defamation landscape. It was the first step of a review, ordered by the Council of Attorneys-General, which could reshape the way both big-money defamation cases against the media, and spats between individuals such as “Mr J” and his former wife, are conducted.
The review is long overdue. When the uniform defamation laws were passed in 2005, Facebook had only just launched and Twitter and Instagram did not exist.
Most experts in the field agree the law has struggled to keep pace with technological changes.
Last week, NSW District Court judge Judith Gibson released an analysis of 91 defamation judgments delivered by Australian courts over a four-month period from May 1 to August 31 — the majority of which involved ordinary people suing each other.
Whereas disputes may have once taken place over a backyard fence, the internet has now given people a public platform to air their grievances — and their enemies a cause of legal action.
Of the cases Gibson uncovered, only 12 were commenced by people of “relative celebrity” and 33 involved media defendants. Unrepresented litigants were involved in 43 per cent of cases.
The cases related to disputes over Facebook posts, a satirical song on YouTube, a hotel website publication, a memorandum to a nursing home and correspondence with government departments.
In her paper, presented to a seminar in Sydney, Gibson said it was concerning that ordinary members of the public were being exposed to the risks of defamation law, “without insurance, journalistic training or skilled legal advice”, in a system where legal costs were rising. “(Ordinary) working families cannot afford to pay what can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend disputes about website posts, social media, ‘pub talk’ and the like,” she said.
Queensland parents Anthony Woolley and Janet Kencian know only too well the “tremendous toll” of trying to defend defamation action. The couple faced a defamation action funded by Cairns’s Trinity Anglican School, after they wrote to the head of the state’s Education Department raising concerns about the way the school had handled allegations that their daughter was being bullied and racially abused by other students.
Argentine women fight against inequality in soccer
In a country where the soccer conversation is overwhelmingly dominated by talk of Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, female players in Argentina struggle to be heard.
That’s changing rapidly, however, and it’s partly because of a picture that was widely shared on social media.
The photo, taken in April before a Women’s Copa America match in Chile, showed the Argentine players with their hands cupped behind their right ears, a sign of protest highlighting that no one was listening to them. It took social media to spread the message because the traditional media, including Argentina’s top TV channels and newspapers, didn’t even cover the continental championship.
“We live in a soccer-mad country but with a lot of machismo,” Argentina forward Belen Potassa said at the national team’s training grounds on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. “Soccer is Messi, (Gonzalo) Higuain, (Diego) Maradona and no one else.”
While those players are adored and even idolized, the women’s team has been sidelined – just like in other countries around the world.
The Argentine soccer federation often is late in paying travel expenses while the players have routinely faced the prejudices of a chauvinistic society that sees soccer as a men’s only game. Still, the long-disadvantaged team of women may be on the verge of a game changer by defying long-established gender inequalities and proving themselves on and off the field.
By finishing third at the Copa America, the team in the light blue-and-white striped shirts earned a place in the playoffs for this year’s Women’s World Cup in France. Argentina will play Panama on Thursday for a spot in the 24-team tournament. For the first time in the country’s women’s soccer history, the game will be played at a sold out stadium in Buenos Aires.
Another major achievement came in practice.
The women’s team was recently allowed to train at the same complex where Messi and the rest of the men’s team prepare for games, grounds that until recently were reserved for men only.
“Women fight since they’re born because we don’t have the same rights as men. But in sports the sacrifice is twice as tough. They don’t pay you, the clothes are not the same, the sponsors are not the same,” said Potassa, who recently signed a contract with a well-known sports brand that supplies her with boots and clothing.
The women’s team’s progress has even received the support of Messi and several Argentine professional clubs that have promoted the playoff game against Panama on social media under the motto: “It’s time to root for them.”
STEVE KING’S SUPPORTERS DON’T CARE ABOUT THE ACCUSATIONS OF RACISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM
It’s been a rough couple of weeks, Republican Rep. Steve King conceded in a folksy but defensive address to a group of about 40 supporters here Saturday morning. The embattled eight-term Congressman claimed he’s come under a sophisticated attack from Democrats and the media, who are trying to block his re-election. That’s why he’s being called anti-Semitic and a racist, he insisted.
“It’s more diabolic and more devious than we’ve ever seen,” King said.
He found a sympathetic crowd in the Western Iowa GOP Office, despite weeks of controversy over King’s alleged coziness with white nationalists and history of blatantly racist comments. Gerald Pallesen, an 89-year-old from Marcus, Iowa, who introduced himself as an “old geezer,” even offered King a printout of a bull’s-eye to pin to his back. King posed for a picture with it instead. Those targeting King, according to the sign, included Planned Parenthood, two local newspapers, the Iowa GOP, and “two Jews from Des Moines,” among other groups.
“He’s dedicated to family, and to his political beliefs, and to his job,” Pallesen said, adding that he early-voted for King. Mark Andersen, a 69-year-old retired attorney from Sioux City at the rally Saturday, agreed, saying King is a “good man.” David Foreshoe, a 78-year-old retired high voltage cable splicer from Sioux City, said he “wants a candidate that’s going to protect my country.” He handed King a flag pin before the congressman got up in front of the enthused crowd to speak about his cozy relationship with President Donald Trump, grain prices, and the need to ban abortion, even in instances when a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
Anything negative said about King the past few weeks had been willfully ignored — or not heard at all — by people here. “In the last couple weeks, it gets to be a game to pick on Congressman King because he is very outspoken,” Pallesen said.
Neil Lennon: there is a big problem with anti-Irish racism in Scotland
Neil Lennon has said Scotland has a major problem with anti-Irish racism as he rebuffed claims that he incited the latest attack against him. The Hibernian head coach backed his agent, Martin Reilly, who claimed Lennon was routinely targeted for abuse because he was an Irish Catholic who had played for Celtic.
Lennon was among several participants assaulted during Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby and was angered by claims – including one from his former teammate Gary Caldwell – that he had partly brought it on himself by signalling to Hearts fans to calm down following a disallowed goal. The former Northern Ireland international has previously been attacked at Tynecastle and suffered a number of other incidents in Scotland, including being knocked unconscious in the street and being the recipient of a parcel bomb. The message “hang Neil Lennon” was daubed on a wall near Tynecastle on Thursday.
“You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism,” he said. “If a black man is abused, you are not just abusing the colour of his skin, you are abusing his culture, his heritage, his background. It’s the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier. These people with the sense of entitlement or superiority complex. And all I do is stand up for myself.
“I’ve been subjected to this for 18 years. I’m 47, I’m fed up of it. I’m the manager of Hibs now and I’m still getting it. Hanging people is something the Ku Klux Klan did in the 60s to black people, so maybe that’s the mentality of the people who write this stuff. There’s a problem. It’s a big problem.”
Lennon spoke to Partick officials after Caldwell, their manager, made comments but did not take a phone call from his former colleague. He added: “It’s pretty poor all this – I was goading people, I bring it on myself. There’s an effigy [graffiti] outside Tynecastle saying ‘hang Neil Lennon’. That was before the game. Did I bring that on myself?”
In a world where everyone has enough freedom to easily say whatever they want nowadays, the penchant for racism and hate speech is inevitable, especially in online games such as Dota 2, where (professional) players may become so caught up and carried away that they seemingly forget their values, whether they are trying to be competitive or entertaining.
On April this year, Fnatic player Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang used the “N” word in his livestream, in an attempt to crack a joke among his viewers.
A few months after, sometime last June, Team Liquid player Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov cursed his Russian teammates in a public match for their seemingly terrible gameplay, wishing how they should have been “killed” by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler to make the world “a better place.”
Recently, compLexity Gaming player Andrei “skem” Ong delivered a racist remark against Chinese team Royal Never Give Up during the Dream Hack DreamLeague Season 10. Ong appeared to have mocked Chinese speech by typing “Gl chingchong” in all chat, where practically the whole world were watching live.
Even if the aforementioned professional players have already received backlash from the public and have faced the consequences of their misdemeanor by paying a fine and any other penalty upon their organizations’ discretion, it raises an alarming message for everybody, including the non-gamers.
These infamous cases are just part of the much bigger picture regarding the rise of racism and hate speech in the Dota 2 community, and by extension, the esports industry.
Even without a statistics of such cases, one ought to be familiar to derogatory terms such as “Malays**t,” “Indogs,” “Peenoise,” and many more in pubs, one way or another. Narrowing it down in the Philippines, for example, there is a so-called “racism within racism,” where Filipino Dota 2 players in the Visayas and Mindanao regions are contempted as “Bisaya/Bisakol” or “Badjao” by those in the metropolis.
This is in conjunction with other offensive, homophobic, misogynistic, and disturbing remarks that shall fill in an endless list, just in Southeast Asia server alone, that are all being used by several players across thousands of matches everyday.
While reporting a player for communication abuse post-game is possible in Dota 2 thrice a week, in addition to gaining an extra report when one is successfully penalized, it is nothing but a band-aid solution.
How can one, even if it were the game’s publisher Valve Corporation, prevent such obnoxious cases from happening, much less curb them, through one-day chat bans, a few low priority games, and the threat of a “much-dreaded” six-month ban from playing Dota 2?
Reinforcement would always be better than punishment. So, for a good start, it is already perhaps the high time for professional players to be reminded that they are not merely engaging with the game for prize money, titles, or their passion.
If they are already struggling to lay their moral compasses in the game, then what more if they are already outside the computer screen?
The game has already been a platform where they must also painstakingly promote values and influence their fans positively, aside from offering entertainment, in this already degrading world because of warfare, global warming, pollution, corruption, political and religious differences, and many, many more.
Talents and agencies could be of help as well in raising awareness. It would not hurt to hope that their campaign has a good chance to have a “trickle down effect” among the public, who will all be eager to follow them anyway.
As caster Eri Neeman posted on Twitter, professionals must have an “underlying obligation to do what’s right more than most circumstances,” where it “weighs deeper when the world sees [them].”
I have a question for white people.
I will preface it with an excerpt from a recent email sent by a reader named James. He wrote: “It is the blacks who are by far the most racist of all people as they can’t seem to simply forget their damn color and move on with life, get more education and skills, manage their money, stay married, stay out of crime and live a good life.”
I share this email not because it’s surprising, but, rather, because it’s common. Indeed, it’s a rare day when I don’t get three just like it before lunch.
Which brings me to the aforementioned question for white people — or at least, for white people who, like James, fret about African-American bigotry. The question is this:
How, precisely, does all this “black racism” impact your life?
Does it cause police to be called out while you are barbecuing in a park, swimming in a public pool, smoking in a parking garage, sitting in a coffee shop or otherwise minding your own business?
Does it cause politicians to close polling places in your neighborhood, or pass Photo ID laws demanding forms of identification you literally cannot get, in order to suppress your vote?
Does it impact your health? (“African Americans are routinely under-treated for their pain compared with whites, according to research.” — Washington Post, April 4, 2016.)
Your wealth? (“According to a new study … median Black and Latino households will lose the little relative wealth they have by about the time people of color form a majority of households in the U.S. By 2053, Black households will have a median wealth of zero.” — Forbes, Sept. 11, 2017.)
Your housing? (“A half-century after the Fair Housing Act became a civil-rights landmark, multiple studies show housing in America is nearly as segregated as it was when LBJ enacted a law designed to eliminate it.” — U.S. News and World Report, April 20, 2018.)
Your children? (“Racial bias against black students begins long before they get to their teens — it starts in preschool, according to a study released today from the Yale Child Study Center.” — U.S. News and World Report, Sept. 28, 2016.)
The Anti-Racism Network of SA (Arnsa) on November 1 and 2 comes at an important time – when we’re seeing distinct shifts globally towards right wing, fascist thinking. We are living in an increasingly polarised world, with policies and practices that are often framed by sentiment that is anti-immigration, anti-Black, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic. This encroaching narrow conservatism is intersectional, negatively affecting the most vulnerable in society.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly four years ago, anti-apartheid struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada said that “we can safely assume that we might be at a crossroads with regard to the resurgence of global racism”.
Since then, we’ve seen Donald Trump’s ascendance and the emergence of right-wing political parties across Europe. In the developing world, we’ve seen the troubling emergence of Hindu nationalism, while in Brazil we’re witnessing the growing popularity of the right-wing.
In South Africa, not only have we had repeated xenophobic attacks, but we now have the African Basic Movement, whose core mandate is to get rid of foreigners. We have written to the Independent Electoral Commission, calling for the party’s deregistration.
We also have examples of how narrow interest groups have gained recognition and support. People are increasingly being mobilised around ethnic, tribal or racial identity in a bid to secure resources or government services. Others have established links abroad, as with AfriForum’s recent lobbying expedition to Washington.
READ: Real Racism
Beyond the broader global context, there is the day-to-day lived experience of entrenched structural racism and personal racism. We have had our fair share of everything from school policy discrimination to the racist vitriol of various individuals.
These local and international examples point to several trends: a growing expression of overt racism without shame or fear for the consequences; leadership positions being won on populist, nationalist rhetoric; the use of electoral or other platforms to legitimise racist policies or narratives; and the emergence of organised right wing movements that are increasingly interconnected.
When Kathrada delivered his UN speech, he called for the “Greenpeace of anti-racism” – for progressive organisations globally to present the alternative, the counter-narrative to the emerging global right. To do this, local formations dedicated to fighting racism will be required to organise themselves into a national coalition. This is essentially the base that Arnsa aims to build.
National coalitions will have to develop links with similar organisations globally. Arnsa has set up links with the European Network Against Racism and other organisations, but these relationships need to be strengthened and extended to a broader international network. In a grassroots way, irrespective of its size, an organisation can play an important role in building a united front against the growing threat of globally coordinated racism.