Forced marriage and atheism

by Tahmineh Rostami

I live in exile. I had to leave forever the country I love…..

Tahmineh Rostami

I was always a politically thinking person who chose the means of art to point out grievances and to change something. So I studied literature (fiction) in Iran and focused on the topic of freedom. I also led a theater troupe of children and young people with disabilities and won several international awards.

I wrote to defend the rights of women and prisoners and was reprimanded many times for this. But I wanted to make her voice against the forced hijab resound loudly in the streets of Tehran and, in protest against the oppression, I publicly took off my headscarf! The consequence was that I was attacked and beaten in the streets.

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Inside Saudi-Arabia: Becoming an atheist

by Rosilea .M

Since I began to understand the world around me, I have always felt uncomfortable being surrounded by traditions, monotonous everyday life and rules.

Rosilea .M

I loved to express myself differently. I gave myself to daydreaming and writing stories to get rid of my boredom (most of it was in my head). This was my mental escape and a coping mechanism.

There was a time when I wondered why I was neglected? Why was I treated badly, but never as badly as when I was expressing my secular beliefs? I was even treated worse than at the age of 15, when I was clinically diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, after the first symptoms appeared at 14.

And I mention this because there is a huge stigma and injustice here in Saudi Arabia. This is not the way to talk about people in the family who are considered “physically challenged”, “crazy” or “retarded”. They are downright hushed up. Instead of receiving support, they are insulted, belittled and abused, as they are perceived as a burden and daily annoyance. They are seen as a punishment or test from God. In addition, these people are not marriable, which puts them under further pressure.  So the parents are frustrated and take out their resentment on the children concerned, since their very existence damages their “family honor”.

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It’s like taking off a very old and dusty mask – leaving Islam in Yemen

More and more people in the Islamic world are leaving their religion. Many do this in silence, but some write about it. A particularly fascinating example is the blog of a young woman from Yemen. It takes a lot of courage from this conservative country, which has also been at war for almost four years, to express criticism of Islam.

We have succeeded in making contact with this extraordinarily courageous woman. We were interested in who was behind this Facebook page. However, when we questioned her, we were anxious to preserve her identity and did not ask any personal questions.

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