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Dissent Dispatch: volume 2
Unbelief Brief
May 16, 2024
Welcome back to Dissent Dispatch!

Welcome back to Dissent Dispatch, volume 2!

At Ex-Muslims of North America, we're thrilled to have you join us once again. In this edition, you'll discover our newest Unbelief Brief, along with the latest updates to our Persecution Tracker.

The Unbelief Brief

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has recently reported a “reduction” in “enforcement actions” of the Taliban’s mandatory hijab rules. While this might appear optimistic at first glance, considering the Taliban's uncompromising brutality, the term "reduction" seems to be the most generous interpretation of recent events.

According to the report, “[enforcement] incidents significantly decreased after January 2024 with the cessation of the large-scale enforcement actions which took place between December 2023 and January 2024.” However, it also acknowledges that enforcement actions, although less frequent, are still occurring. This appears to be a return to equilibrium after a crackdown, and it’s challenging to imagine widespread acts of disobedience against the Taliban’s oppressive laws in the current environment.

On the other hand, the Malaysian government is outsourcing enforcement of its own semi-theocratic laws to its own citizens. The Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) has introduced “a 24-hour hotline to receive complaints of people insulting Islam, especially on social media platforms”—a concerning move towards increased vigilante mob justice for blasphemy. Reporting citizens who have spoken unfavorably about Islam has become alarmingly easy in Malaysia.It is difficult not to think of Pakistan, a theocratic state that has already gone down this road, where blasphemy lynchings and imprisonments are commonplace—and where reporting a fellow citizen’s insult to Islam is as simple as sending an email.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Conservative government plans to implement a new rule allowing faith schools to discriminate more freely based on religion. Currently, “new [state-funded] free schools with a religious character may only select up to 50% of pupils based on religion when they are oversubscribed.” Under the proposed new rule, this 50% cap will be removed, allowing schools to admit 100% of students from a particular religion “effectively lock[ing] out families of different religions and beliefs”. The proposed rule will affect all government-funded faith schools—a questionable move for a political party that claims to prioritize the successful integration of immigrants.

The British National Secular Society has issued a statement opposing the planned change, which you can read here.

Persecution Tracker Updates

In Bangladesh, a Hindu man was accused of insulting Islam, arrested, and detained. The alleged insult? Two lines of song lyrics he posted to Facebook. Read about the case here.

In neighboring Pakistan, another victim of a blasphemy accusation has also been taken into custody. Religious authorities in the village where the incident occurred reportedly had to urge locals not to attack the suspected blasphemer’s family. Read more about this case here.

On the Horizon

Our Draw Muhammad Day Contest deadline has been extended! You now have until May 18th to get your submissions to [email protected]. Reminder to make sure your entry aligns with Instagram/Facebook guidelines so we can share our winners! Please include “Draw Muhammad Day Contest” in your subject line.

Thank you for being an essential part of the EXMNA community. Without your support and donations, we wouldn't be able to conduct the research that enables us to provide you with the Unbelief Brief and Persecution Tracker, or to share our findings with impactful organizations such as the United Nations. Stay tuned for more updates and resources coming your way. In the meantime, feel free to connect with us and continue your financial support here.

Until next week,

The Team at Ex-Muslims of North America

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