Atheism a capital offense in 7 Islamic lands 4

On December 10, “Human Rights Day”, the International Humanist and Ethical Union published Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Nonreligious, edited by Matt Cherry.

These quotations were selected by Hermant Mehta at the Friendly Atheist:

“This report shows that atheists, humanists and other nonreligious people are discriminated against by governments across the world. There are laws that deny atheists’ right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry, obstruct their access to public education, prohibit them from holding public office, prevent them from working for the state, criminalize their criticism of religion, and execute them for leaving the religion of their parents.”

In Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan atheism is a capital crime. Most executions for the crime of atheism are carried out in Pakistan.

“In a range of other countries — such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait and Jordan — publication of atheist or humanist views on religion are totally banned or strictly limited under laws prohibiting ‘blasphemy’.

“In many of these countries, and others like Malaysia, citizens have to register as adherents of a small number officially-recognized religions — which normally include no more than Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam.”

“Speaking of blasphemy,” Hermant Mehta writes, “the report includes a section on the sharp rise of blasphemy charges on social media …” :

“The trend of prosecuting ‘blasphemies’ shared through social media is most marked in Muslim-majority countries. For example, in addition to the tragic, but all too familiar, wave of blasphemy prosecutions in Pakistan, this year saw prosecutions for allegedly atheist comments on Facebook and Twitter in Bangladesh, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. In some of these cases, the governments even threatened to prosecute those who commented on, or ‘liked’, or re-tweeted, the offending comments. In May, the Pakistan government went so far as to block all access to Twitter in the country because of objections to ‘blasphemous’ content’. …

When 21st century technology collides with medieval blasphemy laws, it seems to be atheists who are getting hurt, as more of them go to prison for sharing their personal beliefs via social media… Across the world the reactionary impulse to punish new ideas, or in some cases the merest expression of disbelief, recurs again and again. We even have a case in Tunisia of a journalist arrested for daring to criticize a proposed blasphemy law!”

Max Fisher at the Washington Post provides this map of the countries where atheists are executed, imprisoned or discriminated against by law.

In his comments, Max Fisher points out that –

Restrictions against “religious incitement” …  are common in much of the world, including in atheist-friendly Western Europe.

Such laws are applied in many European countries to the critical examination of Islam. And if the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) – which includes a delegate or “special envoy” from the US, Obama appointee Rashad Hussain – has its way, criticism of Islam will be a punishable offense all over this Islam-diseased world. The Obama administration supported a UN resolution against “defamation of religion” in December 2011.

  • liz

    What really makes this funny is the phrase “the impulse to punish new ideas”.
    Yes, this subversive “new idea” of atheism! It’s only been around for centuries. But hey, when your culture and your brain has been isolated in a time warp for a millenium or so, waking up in the 21st century must be a bit threatening.

  • CEM

    …………….and not one of them is a predominantly Christian
    country. This proves yet again that maximum religious freedom for the theist (of any stripe) or the atheist (liberal or conservative) exists in predominantly Christian countries.

    • Jillian Becker

      CEM – Christian lands don’t actively persecute now (except, some of them, their own – such as Geert Wilders), but many have a centuries-long record of intense cruelty and legalized murder inflicted on religious grounds.

      The contemporary Jewish state, I might point out, is also religiously tolerant.

      Islam is ideologically intolerant.

      The US, despite its own Constitution, has laws discriminating against atheists (as described in the post above this one).

      • Jack

        Christian lands don’t actively persecute now (except, some of them, their own – such as Geert Wilders)

        The Netherlands is no longer Christian. It is Leftist. Its religion is egalitarianism. You could argue that the Left is a secularized version of Christianity, but that is not the same thing as the real thing. Its a heresy of sorts.

        I’m not apologizing for Christianity. If it were to go feral once more it too would punish and kill those that transgressed its norms. Is that possible in the West, a reinvigorated Christianity? I don’t know. But I must say, I don’t have much sympathy for today’s atheists with the exception of the Randians. Why? Most atheists are Leftists. Yes they reject god but they replace it with their own civic religion – modern liberalism. Men like Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett are NOT defenders of liberty. They are its enemies.

        Being caught between today’s subjectivist secularists and religion is being caught between a rock and a hard place.