Iceland to become first European country to ban circumcision.

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Iceland to become first European country to ban circumcision.

Religious leaders have reacted with outrage to a bill proposed by MPs in Iceland that would criminalise male circumcision.

The bill proposes a six-year prison term for anyone found guilty of “removing sexual organs in whole or in part”.

Salmann Tamimi, president of the Muslim Association of Iceland, described the proposal as an “attack on religion”.

Circumcising girls has been illegal in Iceland since 2005, but there are currently no laws to regulate the practice against boys.

Describing circumcision as a “violation” of young boys’ rights, the bill states the only time it should be considered is for “health reasons”.

Young men would be given the opportunity to decide for themselves once they reached the age of consent.

Male circumcision is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world, with one recent study estimating that around 38 per cent of men globally have undergone the procedure.

According to the same study, around half of circumcisions are carried out for religious or cultural reasons.

While the importance of male circumcision in Islam is disputed – some Muslim groups say it is obligatory, others only recommend it – it remains a major and celebrated rite wherever Islam is practised.

For Jews, circumcision carries profound religious significance and most baby boys born into Jewish families are circumcised within a week of birth.

The Bishop of Iceland, Agnes M Sigurðardóttir, has criticised the bill for criminalising the religious beliefs of Jews and Muslims, recommending instead a ban on unsafe circumcision.

In a statement to The Independent, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said he was “extremely concerned” about the proposed legislation.

“Whilst the Jewish population in Iceland is small, we cannot ignore the dangerous precedent this sets within Europe and the implications it has on Jews’ ability to carry out our religion in an open and free manner.”

A spokesperson for Milah UK, which campaigns to protect the right of the Jewish community to carry out male circumcision, described the practice as “a non-negotiable element of Jewish identity”. A ban would make “sustainable Jewish life in the country impossible,” he said.

There are no official figures on the number of Jews living in Iceland but estimates in 2010 by the Pew Research Center suggest they make up less than 0.1 per cent of the population (fewer than 320 people).

Mr Tamimi said he was particularly concerned about the potential impact of the bill on the small Jewish community.

“Even if there is just one Jew, it is very bad to criminalise him,” he said. “It’s very bad for Iceland to get that name, that they don’t want Jews. This is one way of saying they are not welcome.”

He warned the legislation was an attack on religion more broadly – “they are interfering in religious freedom” – and said he was frustrated that religious groups were not consulted before the legislation was proposed. “There was not a single word,” he said. “We read about it in the newspaper.”

Progressive Party MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir is the driving force behind the legislation.

“I didn’t think it was necessary to consult,” she told The Independent. “I don’t see it as a religious matter.”

“Jews are welcome in Iceland. But this is about child protection and children’s rights. That comes first, and before the religious rights of the adult.

“Every individual, it doesn’t matter what sex or how old… should be able to give informed consent for a procedure that is unnecessary, irreversible and can be harmful. His body, his choice.”



Egypt considers outlawing atheism and is already arresting nonbelievers.

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Egypt considers outlawing atheism and is already arresting nonbelievers.

Lawmakers in Egypt are seriously considering passing a law that would make atheism illegal. Blasphemy is already illegal in Egypt, and people are frequently arrested for insulting or defaming religion under the country’s strict laws. The newly proposed rule would make it illegal for people not to believe in God, even if they don’t talk about it.

“The phenomenon [of atheism] is being promoted in society as freedom of belief, when this is totally wrong,” Amro Hamroush, head of Egypt’s Parliament’s committee on religion, said when he introduced the bill in late December.

“[Atheism] must be criminalized and categorized as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions,” he wrote in the local daily paper Al-Shorouq.

On Thursday, the Committee on Religion announced it would prepare an explanatory note on the draft law in the coming days. It is unclear how authorities would determine who is an atheist if the person does not speak about it.

Egypt’s highest Islamic religious organization, Al-Azhar, supports the proposed law, and its top officials said it would work to punish those who had been “seduced” by atheism.

According to Egypt’s blasphemy law, which was included in the country’s penal code in 1982, a person can go to prison for up to five years if he or she uses religion to “promote, through speech, writing or any other medium, extremist ideas with the aim of spreading discord,” or “belittle[s] or disdain[s] one of the monotheistic religions or their different sects, or to harm national unity.”

Egypt started targeting atheists more vigorously shortly after the 2014 inauguration of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. The new government announced a plan to “confront and eliminate” atheism. Some officials even described atheism as one of the biggest threats facing Egypt.

Today, local media claims that Egyptian society is facing a “moral panic” due to sexualized images in the media and an increase in homosexuality. Last month, politicians proposed a law that would criminalize homosexuality, and authorities arrested a pop singer for appearing in a music video wearing lingerie and eating a banana suggestively.

Most recently, Egyptian security forces arrested a 29-year-old computer science graduate for administrating a Facebook page that promoted atheism. He is being held awaiting further investigation.

No other country officially outlaws atheism, but people can be put to death for blasphemy or apostasy in at least 13 countries, according to the International Humanist and Ethical Union in London. The countries with the harshest laws for blasphemy and apostasy are Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.


Male Circumcision is a Form of Genital Mutilation.

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Male Circumcision is a Form of Genital Mutilation.

According to the children’s ombudsmen of the Nordic countries, male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation and they’re fighting to ban the practice. Representatives from Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Greenland all recently met in Norway with doctors and surgeons who agreed on one thing: the fight for the right to keep foreskin.

In a campaign, which launched in September, they concluded that the procedure is in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which says, “Children should have the right to express their own views and be protected from traditional rituals which may be harmful to their health.”

In other words, the boys should wait until they’re old enough to decide for themselves. This all began when a 16-year-old Icelandic boy asked if his parents had the right to circumcise him when he was a baby. The matter was brought to the attention of Iceland’s children’s ombudsman, Margaret Maria Sigurðardottir.

“The leading health professionals here in Iceland, who also signed the Nordic statement, believe that circumcision without medical indication, of a person who is unable to provide consent violates fundamental medical-ethical principles,” Margaret told me over the phone. “They have therefore refused to perform such procedures.”

The children’s hospital in Reykjavik completely stopped circumcising boys in 2011.

Reykjavik-based Rabbi Berel Pewzner believes the circumcision ritual should stay.

“I am firmly opposed to such a proposed ban,” said Rabbi Pewzner, who plays an integral role in the Icelandic Jewish community that has grown to include over 100 people across the underpopulated country.

“Ritual circumcision of underage boys increasingly has come under attack in Scandinavia, both by left-wing secularists as well as right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries,” he said.

“How can any government get in the way of this sacred ritual, which mind you is absolutely safe?”

While it’s a safe procedure, it’s not 100 percent safe. One midwife was found guilty for negligence during a circumcision that caused a four-week-old newborn to bleed to death.

Aside from that, one source of education is Dr. Brian J. Morris, who founded CircInfo, which lists several resources, among them, a public listing of circumcision clinics.

Among its benefits, male circumcision is said to reduce the risk of HIV transmitting cervical HPV, and offer “improved sexual pleasure, since women tend to prefer the circumcised penis for appearance, hygiene, increased penile-vaginal contact, stimulation, and marginally better staying power during sex,” writes Dr. Morris in Sex and Male Circumcision: What Every Woman Needs to Know. “Any of these factors can increase the likelihood of the woman reaching an orgasm.”

Religious male circumcisionhappens practically everywhere. Popular among African tribal groups, it is known to symbolize a rite of passage into manhood or “warrior status.” It is symbolic in other ways, too, to demonstrate a pain that is the male counterpart of menstruation, birth or even hymen-breaking – as well as discourage masturbation among teens.

Some men have had a superb circumcision experience. Dan Ricketts from England was circumcised when he was 21 at the Custom House Surgery in London. He proudly explains the detailed procedure and his healing tale on his website (he also posted photos). On healing day 97, he was still rubbing vitamin E on his scar line.

Meanwhile, some have been circumcised in their 20s but regret it. The CircRegretStories blog says it was ‘the worst’ decision.’ “Anyway I used to be able to masturbate and did so a lot,” one guy says. “However, now, I find it very difficult to without a foreskin and I’m just so … angry that I [don’t] have a normal foreskin.”

Some fall in the in-between category. One 34-year-old American had the skin grow back. “Given the elongation, I am considering having a second circumcision,” he said.

No immediate changes are set for the ban. Still, the Nordics hope to make it illegal.

“The circumcision of young boys is a serious matter in our opinion, as it is an irreversible and painful procedure that may cause serious complications,” Margaret said.

“The goal is not to punish parents but rather to educate them about children‘s rights.”


Saudi Arabia’s prince promises country will return to ‘moderate, open Islam’

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Saudi Arabia’s prince promises country will return to ‘moderate, open Islam’

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, speaking at a major investment conference, has promised his kingdom will return to “what we were before – a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world”.

Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud made the announcement at the beginning of the landmark Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The country would also do more to tackle extremism, the prince said. “We will not waste 30 years of our lives dealing with extremist ideas; we will destroy them today,” he said when asked by Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business Network.

“It was not like this in the past… We will end extremism very soon,” the prince added, in his most direct criticism of Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious establishment to date.

Expanding on his earlier comments in an interview with the Guardian, the crown prince said that the country’s conservatism was in part fallout from Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

“What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.

“We are a G20 country. One of the biggest world economies. We’re in the middle of three continents. Changing Saudi Arabia for the better means helping the region and changing the world. So this is what we are trying to do here. And we hope we get support from everyone.”

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, is governed under an puritanical form of Sunni Islam known as Wahabism; it is extremist versions of Wahabism that are espoused by jihadist movements such as al-Qaeda and Isis.

In the wake of 9/11, the Saudi authorities have worked alongside the US and other Western countries to tackle radicalisation and terrorism funding – but have often been criticised for not doing enough.

The claims from Prince bin Salman will be met with scepticism internationally, as Saudi’s hardline clerics still wield much power and influence in the country. Rights groups continue to condemn the state’s human rights violations, the precedent for many of which is based on the Saudi interpretation of Quranic law.

Prince bin Salman, who was suddenly appointed heir to the throne by his father King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud earlier this year, is viewed by many as the face of the modern kingdom.

The 32-year-old is the driving force behind ‘Vision 2030’: Saudi Arabia’s long-term economic and social policy designed to wean itself off dependence on oil, and is popular for his reforms to the country’s ineffective state bureaucracy.

Last month, it was announced women in Saudi Arabia would be finally be given the right to drive, a symbolic move signalling changes to the institutionalised discrimination against women in the country.

The prince is also regarded as one of the primary decision makers behind the Gulf states’ recent cutting of ties with Qatar.

Also at the Future Investment Initiative, Prince bin Salman announced the creation of Neom, a new $500bn (£381m) independent economic zone to be built on the border with Jordan and Egypt.

The 2025 project will operate using alternative energy and serve as a worldwide technology innovation hub, he said.

The conference, which runs until Thursday, is aimed at showing that Riyadh is opening itself up to the modern world and diversifying its revenue streams, following a global plunge in oil prices.


Scientists disprove historical event described in the Bible.

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Scientists disprove historical event described in the Bible.

It is a command that led the leading atheist Richard Dawkins to claim that the God of the Old Testament was “a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser … a genocidal … megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”.

For God had ordered the Israelites to slaughter the apparently sinful Canaanites, saying: “You shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them.” And, according to a passage in the Old Testament’s Book of Joshua, they did just that:

“Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded….  He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Joshua. 10:40, 11:15)

However, a new genetic study has found that the Canaanites actually managed to survive this purge of their traditional homeland, passing on their DNA over the centuries to their numerous descendants in modern-day Lebanon.

Scientists managed to extract enough DNA from the remains of five people – found in the former Canaanite city state of Sidon and dated to about 3,700 years ago – to sequence their entire genome.

They then compared this to 99 modern Lebanese people and discovered they had inherited about 90 per cent of their genetic ancestry from their ancient forebears.

A paper about the study in the American Journal of Human Genetics said that there had been “uncertainties” about the fate of the Canaanites.

 “The Bible reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of its people; if true, the Canaanites could not have directly contributed genetically to present-day populations,” the researchers wrote.

“However, no archaeological evidence has so far been found to support widespread destruction of Canaanite cities between the Bronze and Iron Ages: cities on the Levant coast such as Sidon and Tyre show continuity of occupation until the present day.

“We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age.”

The degree of genetic closeness between the ancient Canaanites and modern Lebanese people was something of a surprise as the area was repeatedly fought over and conquered by various different groups throughout history, although some of them did leave genetic traces that survive to this day.

One of the researchers, Dr Marc Haber, of The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: “The present-day Lebanese are likely to be direct descendants of the Canaanites, but they have in addition a small proportion of Eurasian ancestry that may have arrived via conquests by distant populations such as the Assyrians, Persians, or Macedonians.”

He added that it had been a “pleasant surprise” to be able to extract and analyse DNA from human remains that were nearly 4,000 years old, particularly as they were found in a hot environment.

The Canaanites are roundly condemned in the Old Testament – they were the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities destroyed with fire and brimstone directly by God, according to the Book of Genesis.

While the Bible suggests they were wiped out by the Israelites under Joshua in the land of Canaan, later passages appear to contradict this and state that there were survivors. Some Biblical scholars have argued the passages describing the Canaanites wholesale destruction are hyperbole and inconclusive, and the genetic research would indeed appear to indicate the slaughter was much less extensive than described.

Also known as the Phoenicians, the Canaanites proved to be great seafaring traders and established colonies across the Mediterranean.


Austria becomes latest country to ban burqas.

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Austria becomes latest country to ban burqas.

Austria on Sunday becomes the fifth European country to ban wearing full face veils such as the burqa and niqab in public, a move prompted by the recent wave of migrants from Muslim countries seeking asylum.

The prohibition will also apply to scarves, masks and clown paint that cover faces to avoid discriminating against Muslim dress.

The Anti-Face-Veiling Act applies to anyone in public places and buildings, including schools, shopping malls and public transportation.

Other measures aimed at refugees to promote integrating them into Austria include compulsory courses to learn German and the country’s values.

Although there are no reliable numbers, the ban is likely to affect only a few hundred Muslim women in the country who now cover their faces. Also affected are some of the estimated 70,000 Arab tourists who visit Austria’s popular Zell Am See ski area every year.

The new law has angered Muslim groups. The Islamic Religious Authority of Austria calls it an infringement on privacy, religious freedom and freedom of opinion.

Austria’s burqa ban “is a clear discrimination of Muslim women, who once again become victims of a policy of coercion,” said Yeliz Dagdevir, 36, a Muslim psychologist in Lustenau who does not wear a veil. “Muslims are obviously still not a part of this country,” she added.

People who obscure their face in public can be fined $175. Similar laws are in force or about to go into effect in Belgium, Bulgaria, France and Switzerland. Germany has a partial ban on face coverings that applies only when driving.

Austria’s parliament approved the law in May after politicians, including Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz — a front-runner to become chancellor in the Oct. 15 parliamentary election — argued that veils hinder Muslim women from integrating into Austria’s predominantly Catholic society.

The burqa is “not a religious symbol but a symbol for a counter-society,” Kurz told Austrian broadcaster ORF in August.

“We want to be able to look into people’s faces in our society,” added Heinz-Christian Strache, chairman of the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria, at an August news conference:

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen has criticized the law. “It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants,” he recently told a group of students.

Islam is the second most widely practiced religion in Austria, with 7% of its 9 million people practicing it. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe, estimated at about 6 million.

“I am supporting the new law because women become invisible in public with full face veils,” said Erika Reisinger, 64, a commercial clerk in Krems.

Rachid Nekkaz, French-Algerian businessman and political activist, has pledged to pay all fines imposed on women wearing full face veils in Austria. He has spent $350,000 covering similar fines in Belgium and France, Nekkaz told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.


Phrases To Avoid With Your Children, According to Psychologists. 

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Phrases To Avoid With Your Children, According to Psychologists.

When we are first born our parents are all that we have in this world. We would not be who we are today without them.

Our parents are the people we look to for support and guidance. They are supposed to keep us feeling safe at all times and make sure as children that we follow their rules. However, as humans, we are all capable of making mistakes.

As a child, we do not often think of our parents as ‘just humans’ we see them as more than that. These people we call Mom and Dad are our creators, guardians, protectors. They are Gods and Goddesses in our eyes as children, there is nothing Mommy and Daddy cannot do.

Everything that a parent does and how they do it becomes an important part of their child’s psyche. The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice. It tells them what is right and what is wrong…

If you are often angry and cold towards your children they will carry on this into adulthood. They will do the same thing you are doing to them to themselves later on. We all make mistakes, if you are making one now why not take the time to correct it?

We want our children to have an inner voice that does not insult them. If you are friendly and motivating to your child they will take that on as their inner voice, this will prove to be much more effective than having an inner voice that makes them feel worthless.

The Phrases below are ones you should NEVER say to your children, no matter how mad you are or what they have done:


Even if there is no reason for your child to be crying in that moment do not make them feel stupid for doing so and for not being able to stop. They cannot control their emotions. They deserve to be allowed to feel what they are feeling if you say this to your child you are programming them to think that it is not okay to have emotions. They will eventually suppress everything. You should try saying something else in situations like this.

Something like “It’s okay to cry but you still need to understand what you did was wrong.”

This will get you much further.


Parents tell their children this when they are in trouble and already feeling down about themselves and whatever they have done. When your child does something wrong help them to find the right path don’t let them think they are a disappointment.

Try saying something like “What you did was wrong, let’s talk this over okay?”


By telling your child there is something lacking in them be it something on the inside or on the outside it hurts. While you are not specifically saying they are not enough you are implying it. This is something that will grow into your child feeling not good enough in life overall if you do not address it soon. Try saying “You are [something] enough, we can work harder at it.”


Yes, they do.

This is not protecting your child in any way. They are scared, you cannot stop their fear by telling them to not be afraid. Everyone gets scared sometimes, even you. Face your fears instead of running away from them, that is what you should be teaching your children.

Say something like “It is okay to be scared, everyone gets scared sometimes but I know something that will help.”


This one is something that you should never ever say to your children. You are the person whose approval they seek the most they should not be afraid of what you might think of them. By saying this you are making them set out on a journey seeking approval from wherever they can get it.

Try saying something like “No one is perfect sweetie, you will do better next time.”


You should never make your child feel like they are bad as a whole. This also goes along with using the word rotten. You should try using the phrase “What you did was bad” Because their actions may not be as good as you would like for them to be but that shouldn’t make you think negatively of your child as a whole. We all make mistakes, that doesn’t mean we are all bad people.


Duh, this is your child, you are supposed to do everything for them. You should not be holding that against them, They did not choose to be born. You should be ashamed of yourself if you have said this to your child. They are not the problem when it comes to what you do for them they are there for you to take care of not the other way around.


This is something that also should not have to be on this list. You should never tear you children down like this. If you have a fat kid they already know they’re fat.

They without a doubt hear about it from other children every single day. Home should be a safe place, not a place that they’re going to be bullied even more in. Try saying something like

“I’m thinking about getting into shape and being healthy, do you wanna give it a try with me? I don’t want to do it alone.”

Negative labeling like calling your kid fat will lead to eating disorders and an unhealthy body image without a doubt.

Be careful what you say to your children. They are the ones who will be there to take care of you when you can no longer take care of yourself. If they grow up hating who they are and how you treated them you won’t have much of a caregiver when the time comes.

Love your children for who they are and encourage them to do good, don’t tear them down.