Opinion

Demand for atheism rises in countries under Islamic rule

Demand for atheism rises in countries under Islamic rule

The scientist and author Richard Dawkins is giving away translations of The God Delusion in countries under Islamic rule like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.

The reason behind the decision is the thirst for atheism in such countries. Whilst 3.3 million copies of the bestseller have been sold since 2006, the unofficial Arabic pdf alone has been downloaded 13 million times.

The rise of atheism in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia is something we have been speaking about for some time now. The Iranian Baztab Now website warned of a tsunami of atheism amongst Iranian youth. The #ExMuslimBecause hashtag initiated by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain became viral overnight with over 120,000 Tweets from 65 countries.

The hashtag “#Aik crore Pakistani mulhid” (10 million Pakistani atheists) trended around Darwin Day for two years running. Free Mind, launched by Arab atheists promoting atheism, has recorded more than 1 million visits so far.

The now highly visible and vocal ex-Muslim movement (a new Council has just been established in Jordan), the access to atheism and freethought via social media, the deep-seated opposition to theocratic rule that comes from lived experience, the irrationality of religious doctrine, the authoritarianism of religious rule, scepticism about prophets and contradictory tenets, the unrelenting violence, amongst others, make atheism increasingly enticing for a mostly young population.

Remove Islamism’s threats and apostasy and blasphemy laws from people’s lives and even we ex-Muslims will be stunned at the extent of atheism in countries under Islamic rule.

The powers that be have understood the “threat” atheism poses – seeing it as an existential danger, especially since Islam and state power are intertwined, hence why atheists are persecuted (with many others including religious minorities, women’s rights activists, labour leaders and LGBT).

• Iran as one of the most important bases of atheism in the Middle East, with more than half the population using the Internet regularly, has seen a government ban on more than 160,000 social media accounts and websites for  spreading “atheism and corruption” in one year alone.

• Two government ministries in Egypt have been ordered to produce a national plan to “confront and eliminate” atheism. The Egyptian parliament is looking to criminalise atheism.  Recently, Mohammed Hashem was told to see a psychiatrist and kicked off a television show for not believing in God. A mother has even lost custody of her children because she is an atheist.

• A series of laws in Saudi Arabia define terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion.”

• A Malaysian government minister has said that atheists should be “hunted down” and “re-educated.”

• In Pakistan, a High Court Judge has reiterated that “blasphemers are terrorists” in a case that seeks to ban “derogatory” social media posts against Islam and Muhammad, Islam’s prophet. The Islamabad High Court has directed the government to block web pages containing blasphemous content and put the names of “blasphemers” on the exit control list.

Thirteen countries punish atheism with the death penalty, all Islamic states, namely Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen.

And even in countries without the death penalty, like Bangladesh, Islamists kill atheists whilst the government does little or like Tunisia, where Hatem Al Imam, the President of Tunisian Freethinkers has been brutally attacked. Turkish government-backed Islamists in Afrin address “Kurdish atheists,” telling them to repent or face decapitation …

Clearly, to be an atheist, to question or criticise God, prophets, Islam and any religion or dogma is not a crime though too many are being killed or imprisoned for it. It is high time to stop blaming atheists for their persecution under cover of offence, Islamophobia, hurt sentiments… and instead target the states and movements that are hunting down, imprisoning and murdering people for the mere exercise of their freedom of expression and conscience.

Urgent cases that need our immediate attention include:

Bangladesh: Asad Noor, a 25-year-old atheist blogger is facing up to 14 years in prison because he “hurt religious feelings” with his social media posts “mocking the prophet”.

Iran: 20-year-old Sina Dehghan was sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet”. Deghan’s co-defendants, Sahar Eliasi and Mohammad Nouri, have also been convicted of posting anti-Islamic content on social media. Nouri was sentenced to death; Eliasi has been sentenced to three years in prison upon appeal. Soheil Arabi was initially sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet” is on hunger strike and in critical condition. Ruhollah Tavana and Saeed Malekpour have also been sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet” and “insulting and desecrating Islam” respectively.

Iraq: In Dhi Qar- Al-Nasiriya, a city in the southern part of  Iraq, atheists have been hunted down; in most recent news, one of four has been arrested for “spreading the culture of the absence of God.”

Pakistan: Ayaz Nizami and Rana Noman face the death penalty for “blasphemy.” After the arrest, #HangAyazNizami trended on Twitter. Taimoor Raza, 30, has also been sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet Muhammad.”

Saudi Arabia: Ahmad Al-Shamri, in his 20s, has been sentenced to death for atheism and blasphemy; Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and a thousand lashes for “apostasy” and “insulting Islam”. Poet Ashraf Fayadh has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment and lashes for poems containing “atheist ideas” reduced from an initial death sentence.

#AtheismNotACrime #EndBlasphemyLaws #EndApostasyLaws

10 responses to “Demand for atheism rises in countries under Islamic rule”

  1. Johan says:

    There will come soon a tipping point when the groundswell of anticlerical hatred will precipitate revolution by mob rule similar to the downfall of the European communist dictators. Ayatollahs, princes,grand muftis and clerics will find themselves dragged into the streets for a bloody good kicking. I don’t much rate their chances of escaping intact. It will be bloody, barbaric and will spread like wildfire. Its coming for sure.

  2. Broga says:

    Johan: Faith is essential for these priest supported barbarians to rule their abused and exploited populations. As soon as facts, reason and common sense start to make their exciting appearance the entire rotten edifice is corroded. I can think of no better way than making “The God Delusion” available in these benighted countries.

    Years ago I sent a copy to a religious relative who continues to try to convert me. She sent me some shifty, dishonest response called “The Dawkins’ Delusion” (I think, as I didn’t keep it) which she described as the complete answer to Dawkins lies. I read a bit of it and I was encouraged at its obvious deceits. You would have to be besotted by religious indoctrination to take it seriously.

  3. andym says:

    Encouraging news, but in the short-term the persecution is likely to get worse. A powerful world religion’s prolonged death throes are not going to be nice.

    @Johan. I hope it doesn’t happen that way. Hopefully people who discover atheism from the internet are also discovering the benefits of science , evidence, reason. I hope the theocrats are subject to the standards of international law .

    @ Broga. I remember “The Dawkins Delusion.”I picked one up in a bookshop years ago. I was staggered at how weak it was.

  4. L.Long says:

    A large part of the population needs to consider the French Solution to the tyranny that is there … the guillotine! Worked in France! Of course nothing is that simple anymore!

  5. Don Collins, Sr says:

    Bravo, Robyn
    Atheism is the world’s fastest growing religion; Unitarians are seeking social togetherness not Jesus.
    Don Collins Sr

  6. Asif Hameed says:

    atheist in Islamic countries have freed themselves from cruel religious ideology but sadly they are unable to celebrate their lives as atheists ,
    as we see number of atheists in these countries are growing so hopefully in coming decades everybody in this world will know that God is just a man made character .

  7. CoastalMaineBird says:

    Atheism is the world’s fastest growing religion;
    Not so – it is NOT a religion, and it is sullied by such a categorization.

  8. Igor says:

    Religion is human stupidity in its nastiest form: Dangerous, sinister nonsense.

  9. JimmyDee says:

    Someone should HUNT DOWN these Stone Age morons.
    The cult of crazies who worship a 1400 year old Caveman.
    If it wasn’t for OIL this shithole region on Earth could be blockaded, condemned, and allowed to freely die or evolve over the course of centuries all alone in the night.

  10. Rob Andrews says:

    There is rapid change even in Saudi Arabia. Women have got the right to drive and recently also to vote.

    “Atheism is a religion, like baldness is a hair color”.
    –Mark Twain

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