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In Poland, Mary + Rainbow = Blasphemy
Unbelief Brief
May 8, 2023
Poland, seemingly aspiring to be more like the theocracies of the Islamic world every day, just made another stride in that direction with a recent conviction.

Iranian Cleric Killed… by a Security Guard

In Iran, a somewhat unusual—but perhaps no longer particularly unlikely—killing. This one, to boot, did not flow in the direction from state to citizen, as in the numerous recent executions the Iranian regime has carried out, but rather the opposite. A security guard in a bank shot and killed, seemingly without prompt, a prominent cleric, Abbas Ali Soleimani.

The motive was not immediately apparent. However, as the New York Times notes:

The attack jarred Iran’s clerical establishment, which has faced months of protests and public fury demanding an end to its rule … Shia clerics are viewed as symbols of the Islamic Republic’s theocracy, and many Iranians blame them for the country’s considerable problems, among them social oppression, discrimination against women, corruption and the dire state of the economy.

In the absence of a concrete motive that we know of, it is difficult not to speculate about the connection.

Chinese Blasphemy Suspect Released From Pakistan’s Custody

A rare case of relative temperance in Pakistan’s enforcement of its blasphemy law—a recently arrested suspect has actually been released.

The case in summary:

The suspect ... was part of a group of Chinese working on the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan. He was accused of blasphemy earlier this month after he criticized two drivers working on the project for taking too much time to pray during work hours.

Hundreds of residents and laborers in the town of Komela then blocked a key highway and demanded his arrest. They alleged that Tian insulted Islam, a charge he denied.

Of course, the “temperance” here merely comes from the fact that he was able to post bail of about $700 USD. The incident represents a rare case of someone from outside of Pakistan being detained for blasphemy.

The suspect, named Tian, also—for some reason—was hospitalized while in jail:

During his detention, Tian was briefly hospitalized after feeling unwell, authorities have said but provided no other details.

Mary with a Rainbow? That’s Blasphemy

Poland, seemingly aspiring to be more like the theocracies of the Islamic world every day, just made another stride in that direction with a recent conviction.

The victims, two women, displayed an image of the Virgin Mary at an LGBT “equality march” which depicted her with a rainbow halo. A court found that the image “offend[ed] religious feelings.”

The pair intend to contest the ruling, which will hopefully result in a reversal of the conviction following a trial. Of course, given the direction Polish law has taken in recent years, this is not certain.

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