Iran’s secular shift: new survey reveals huge changes in religious beliefs

Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution was a defining event that changed how we think about the relationship between religion and modernity. Ayatollah Khomeini’s mass mobilisation of Islam showed that modernisation by no means implies a linear process of religious decline.

Reliable large-scale data on Iranians’ post-revolutionary religious beliefs, however, has always been lacking. Over the years, research and waves of protests and crackdowns indicated massive disappointment among Iranians with their political system. This steadily turned into a deeply felt disillusionment with institutional religion.

In June 2020, our research institute, the Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in IRAN (GAMAAN), conducted an online survey with the collaboration of Ladan Boroumand, co-founder of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran.

The results verify Iranian society’s unprecedented secularisation.

Reaching Iranians online

Iran’s census claims that 99.5% of the population are Muslim, a figure that hides the state’s active hostility toward irreligiosity, conversion and unrecognised religious minorities.

Iranians live with an ever-present fear of retribution for speaking against the state. In Iran, one cannot simply call people or knock on doors seeking answers to politically sensitive questions. That’s why the anonymity of digital surveys offers an opportunity to capture what Iranians really think about religion.

Since the revolution, literacy rates have risen sharply and the urban population has grown substantially. Levels of internet penetration in Iran are comparable to those in Italy, with around 60 million users and the number grows relentlessly: 70% of adults are members of at least one social media platform.

For our survey on religious belief in Iran, we targeted diverse digital channels after analysing which groups showed lower participation rates in our previous large-scale surveys. The link to the survey was shared by Kurdish, Arab, Sufi and other networks. And our research assistant successfully convinced Shia pro-regime channels to spread it among their followers, too. We reached mass audiences by sharing the survey on Instagram pages and Telegram channels, some of which had a few million followers.

After cleaning our data, we were left with a sample of almost 40,000 Iranians living in Iran. The sample was weighted and balanced to the target population of literate Iranians aged above 19, using five demographic variables and voting behaviour in the 2017 presidential elections.

A secular and diverse Iran

Our results reveal dramatic changes in Iranian religiosity, with an increase in secularisation and a diversity of faiths and beliefs. Compared with Iran’s 99.5% census figure, we found that only 40% identified as Muslim.

In contrast with state propaganda that portrays Iran as a Shia nation, only 32% explicitly identified as such, while 5% said they were Sunni Muslim and 3% Sufi Muslim. Another 9% said they were atheists, along with 7% who prefer the label of spirituality. Among the other selected religions, 8% said they were Zoroastrians – which we interpret as a reflection of Persian nationalism and a desire for an alternative to Islam, rather than strict adherence to the Zoroastrian faith – while 1.5% said they were Christian.

https://theconversation.com/irans-secular-shift-new-survey-reveals-huge-changes-in-religious-beliefs-145253

Controversial UAE cleric apologises to Israelis for past remarks – Middle East Monitor

An Emirati preacher of Jordanian origin, Wasim Yousef, has apologised to Israelis for hateful remarks issued by him in the past.

“When I saw some Palestinians burn my country’s flag because of the peace treaty with Israel, I decided to apologise to every Israeli man if I had offended him in the past,” Yousef wrote on Twitter.

“The Emirati people were so happy with the agreement [for normalisation with Israel], they forgot about the coronavirus pandemic,” Yousef claimed, adding that “the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Fatah and [Islamic] Jihad have been trading in the Palestinian cause for 70 years, and now time has come for peace and an end to the death dealers and thieves of money and donations.”

Yousef’s tweets sparked widespread controversy, especially after he claimed that the conflict between Arabs and Israel is purely religious.

https://theunionjournal.com/controversial-uae-cleric-apologises-to-israelis-for-past-remarks-middle-east-monitor/

Canada: Mississauga amends noise bylaw to allow Islamic call to prayer

“WARMINGTON: Mississauga amends noise bylaw to allow call to prayer,” by Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun, April 29, 2020 (thanks to Gary):

That just may have been a traditional call of the minaret you heard in Mississauga at sundown Wednesday.

Mississauga mosques will have similar sounds each evening during Ramadan, the Toronto Sun has learned.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie said a compromise passed by Mississauga City Council Wednesday will offer some comfort to the city’s Islamic community with Ramadan falling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mississauga’s municipal politicians voted unanimously to temporarily waive current noise bylaw restrictions “for the broadcasting of the evening call to prayer from local mosques and other non-residential buildings regularly used for worship, for the period of Ramadan . . . up to May 24, 2020.”

The adjustment allows the call to be “broadcast only once per day for a maximum of 5 minutes.” Mosques, of course, will remain closed as ordered by the province when it imposed emergency measures designed to help fight the pandemic.

“Council’s decision today to support the symbolic broadcasting of the call to prayer during Ramadan this year will provide inspiration, familiarity and comfort to our city’s Muslim community during this challenging time,” explained Crombie.

She stressed that the decision to waive the noise bylaw was not intended to act as an invitation for people to gather at mosques.

“Council was pleased to make this temporary exemption to our noise bylaw in response to a request made by the Muslim Council of Peel and mosques across Mississauga,” she added….

“Normally amplified sound would not be allowed, but at this time, any mosque requesting the call to prayer is being granted,” said Toronto spokesman Tammy Robbinson….

Canada: Islamic call to prayer blares over loudspeakers from mosque in Toronto neighborhood

Jihad Watch announced a few days ago that a Minneapolis neighborhood will broadcast the Islamic call to prayer over loudspeakers five times a day. Similarly, for the first time in Canada, the adhan was broadcast through loudspeakers from the Madinah Masjid in Toronto, declaring Islam superior over all other religions.

Now all residents in the Toronto neighborhood of Danforth must listen over loudspeakers to a declaration that pronounces the greatness of Allah over all other gods, and that there is “no god but Allah.”

These are the words of the Adhan, now blaring through the Toronto neighborhood — a declaration of supremacy and a slap in the face to all other religions:

Allah is greater (Allahu akbar); intoned four times.

I testify that there is no God but Allah (Ashhadu anna la ila ill Allah); intoned twice.

I testify that Mohammed is Allah’s Prophet (Ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah); intoned twice.

Come to prayer (Hayya alas salah); intoned twice.

Come to security/salvation (Hayya alal falah); intoned twice.

Allah is greater (Allahu akbar); intoned twice.

There is no God but Allah (La ilah ill Allah); intoned once.

Quebec moms fight back against Canadian school-enforced Islamic expression

Le Devoir has just reported on allegations of hijab-wearing teachers proselytizing children in classrooms. The allegations arose in the context of a permitted intervention by the group Pour le Droit des Femmes du Québec (PDF Quebec – For the Rights of Women of Quebec) during the judicial hearings over Bill 21.

PDF Quebec presented the case of Ines Hadj Kacem and of Ferroudja Si Hadj Mohand, two Muslim immigrants who wish to raise their daughters in an environment of complete gender equality. They allege that two Montreal public schools have failed them in this respect.

“I left Tunisia so that my daughter could grow up in a milieu that is respectful of her choices and decisions,” Hadj Kacem declared in a sworn statement. She said that her daughter was enrolled in the daycare in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve public school.

The girl had been submitted to pressure from veiled teachers to thank Allah at the end of meals and told not to eat the school food because it wasn’t halal or might contain pork. She was told to behave like a “good Muslim,” alleges her mother. Mme. Kacem said she finally withdrew her daughter from the daycare after having complained about this several times to the school authorities without redress.

In her sworn statement, Mme. Kacem also said, “I have the strong impression that wearing a religious symbol by people in a position of authority influences the behaviours of my daughter and makes her question her own choices and those of her mother.”

She added that her daughter is also made uncomfortable by other children in her unit because she does not wear a cover. All that, Mme. Kacem says, “demonstrates prejudice against what we came to find in Quebec, namely equality between women and men.”

The other witness, Mme. Mohand, recounted that a hijab-wearing teacher was said to have intervened when a nine-year-old friend of her daughter’s removed her hijab in the courtyard of the Montreal North school they both attended. The teacher allegedly said that once a girl begins wearing the hijab, it must not be removed. Then, turning to Mme. Mohand’s daughter, she asked her when she was going to start wearing it. The girl said she felt “embarrassed” and obliged to answer “maybe in high school.”

Mme. Mohand stated that she had had a long conversation with her daughter, explaining she had no obligation to lie concerning her belief in order to please a teacher. The lawyer for PDF Quebec, Christianne Pelchat, former president of the Council for the Status of Women, told Le Devoir that these two witnesses are very important: “It demonstrates that the proscription of religious symbols amongst certain state employees is completely legitimate and takes into account the right of women to equality, with respect to their religious freedom and the right not to be the object of proselytism.”

Forced Islamisation at Swedish School as 9-Year-Olds Confess to Allah in Religious Studies – Reports

According to a disturbed parent, the teacher threatened her daughter with detention if she refused to participate in a lesson that included confessing to the Islamic faith in a letter and prayer.

Söderfors School in Tierp has come under fire for its unorthodox methods of teaching religious studies.

According to the news portal Katerina Magasin, third-graders were forced to confess to Islam and Allah in a letter during a lesson in religious studies. Among other things, the nine-year-olds had to write “I belong to Islam”.

Anamaria von Roteliuc, the mother of a nine-year-old girl, told the magazine the pupils also had to participate in a prayer, while a minaret call was played in the classroom. Furthermore, the children had to colour a mosque on a piece of paper.

When students questioned whether they really had to participate in the activities, the teacher responded that they had to. According to von Roteliuc, who also detailed the ordeal in a Facebook post, the teacher threatened her daughter with detention if she refused to participate in the task. The girl initially refused to pledge allegiance to Allah, but had to to write “I belong to Islam” in the end.

“My daughter came home and was completely devastated”, Anamaria said. “She said, Mom, we had Islam yesterday and they forced us to say that we are Muslims. She told me that during the lesson, she jumped out of the classroom crying, ran to the toilet and prayed to God. She has been feeling bad since it happened. I myself am so angry that I’m seething. How can you do this? We are Christians and my children should not be subjected to forced Islamisation at school”.

Söderfors School is not a religious one, and, according to Roteliuc, its teachers do not have a Muslim background. By her own admission, she contacted the headmaster, only to receive a note that the school was working with world religions. According to Roteliuc, this “religious indoctrination” must end.

“In my eyes, it is unacceptable to carry out such religious abuse against young children. This indoctrination must end”, von Roteliuc said.

The incident sparked outrage on social media and drew the ire of many Swedes.

“Welcome to Söderfors nursery school in Tierp, anno 2020, where Swedish children are indoctrinated into Islam already in third grade. Now the school is reported to the police”, blogger Katerina Janouch tweeted.

“Shocked! For starters, the teacher’s credentials should be nulled, it is criminal what she has exposed 9-year-olds to. What we have here is a Swedish non-denominational school, so no religious influence”, a rather typical angry reaction said.

Following the uproar, Tierp Municipality published a press release stating that there is no Islamisation in schools. Furthermore, the municipality attacked the reports as “dissemination of rumours”, “unsavory claims”, and “baseless criticism”. According to the municipality, the lesson should be seen in context, where students are in different ways inspired to change their perspective, in order to create an understanding of the basics and models of thought in different religions.

The number of Muslims in Sweden has soared over just a matter of several decades amid mass immigration, exceeding 800,000 and amounting to 8.1 percent of today’s population. In recent years, a hot debate on the place and the role of Islam in Swedish society has erupted.

By contrast, the percentage of Christians has shrunk from over 95 percent in 1972 to close to 60 today. In 2000, the Church of Sweden lost its status as state church.

https://sputniknews.com/europe/202003061078489295-forced-islamisation-at-swedish-school-as-9-year-olds-confess-to-allah-in-religious-studies–reports/

IDF strikes Islamic Jihad in Syria, Gaza in response to rocket fire, killing 2

In a highly irregular move, the Israel Defense Forces launched a series of retaliatory airstrikes on Palestinian Islamic Jihad sites in both Syria and the Gaza Strip on Sunday night in response to waves of rocket attacks by the Iran-backed terror group throughout the evening, the military said.

“IDF fighter jets struck terror sites belonging to the PIJ terror group south of Damascus in Syria, as well as dozens of PIJ sites throughout the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a statement.

Islamic Jihad said that two if its members were killed in the attack near Damascus.

Israel rarely acknowledges conducting airstrikes in Syria, save for those that are in retaliation to attacks coming from there.

Rocket attacks against southern Israel continued throughout the IDF’s counter-attack, triggering several rounds of sirens in the town of Sderot and the surrounding area.

Throughout Sunday evening, some 30 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, approximately half of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The rocket fire came after an irregular clash along the Gaza border earlier in the day in which Israeli troops shot dead a member Palestinian Islamic Jihad as he planted an improvised explosive device along the border. The Israeli military then retrieved his body, using a bulldozer.

The IDF said the strikes in Syria and Gaza were in response to both the morning’s attempted IED attack and the rocket fire throughout the evening.

“The IDF will respond aggressively to the terrorist activities of the Islamic Jihad, which endanger the citizens of Israel and harm its sovereignty,” the military said.

The IDF said its fighter jets targeted the main base of the Iran-backed terror group in Syria, which it said was used to develop new weapons and to manufacture “tens of kilograms of ammonium perchlorate rocket fuel each month.

The military said the site, in the Damascus suburb of al-Adleyeh, was also used for training exercises for members of the organization “both from the Strip and on the northern front,” referring to Lebanon and Syria.

Syrian state media outlet SANA reported that the incoming Israeli attacks triggered the country’s air defenses, which it said intercepted many of the incoming missiles, an oft-heard Syrian claim that most defense analysts dismiss as a false boast.

In addition to the strikes outside Damascus, the IDF bombed several Islamic Jihad sites in the Gaza Strip. The military said one of its aircraft also targeted a group of Islamic Jihad members preparing to launch rockets from the northern Gaza Strip and that “a hit was identified.” The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported that four people were injured in the strike

The IDF confirmed reports in Palestinian media that it struck military bases and weapons depots belonging to the terror group in Beit Lahiya, Rafah and Khan Younis.

The military first bombed the Islamic Jihad’s Hittin military base in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.

“In Rafah, underground facilities and depots for storing rocket manufacturing ingredients were attacked,” the IDF said.

Palestinian media reported that two Palestinians were injured in this strike, with the Israeli Air Force firing at least 18 missiles at the site, completely destroying it.

In Khan Younis, the IDF said it struck an Islamic Jihad command center, which contained an anti-tank guided missile training center and military equipment used by the group’s naval commandos.

In light of the exchange of fire on Sunday night, the IDF Home Front Command ordered schools to close Monday in the communities closest to the Gaza Strip, including the cities of Ashkelon, Sderot, and Netivot. Large outdoor gatherings were also forbidden, and residents of the area were only permitted to go to work if they were in close proximity to a bomb shelter.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-strikes-islamic-jihad-targets-in-gaza-in-response-to-rocket-attacks/


NY Times Publishes Op-Ed By Afghan Terrorist Leader. Even Their Own Correspondent Roasts Them.

On Thursday, The New York Times, which in the past refused to print an op-ed by former senator John McCain in 2008 when he was running for president of the United States, published an op-ed written by the deputy leader of the Taliban who is the chief of the Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terror group responsible for the savage murder of hundreds of people in Afghanistan. That provoked an outcry from many people familiar with the group’s bloody history and the massacres it has committed.

https://www.dailywire.com/news/ny-times-publishes-op-ed-by-afghan-terrorist-leader-even-their-own-correspondent-roasts-them