Created on Tuesday, 10 January 2012 12:08
Originally published by The Commentator
An increasing number of young Pakistanis are adopting Atheism and openly questioning the existence of a God. Many analysts have attributed this trend to the rise of Islamist militancy in Pakistan as well as access to social media and other technological tools that allow people to share and explore new ideas.
A Facebook group called ‘Pakistani Atheists and Agnostics’ was launched a few months ago and has already attracted over 800 members. I caught up with the founder of this group, a young Pakistani Technologist operating under the pseudonym ‘Hazrat Nakhuda’, in order to discuss this new phenomenon.
Ghaffar: What inspired you to launch the Pakistani Atheists and Agnostics group?
Hazrat Nakhuda: Atheist groups and movements are a global trend. PAA is a part of that but it is different. The problem is that most of the groups for freethinkers are in secular countries. In my view the battle for reason, rationality and freethinking doesn’t need to be fought (with urgency) in England, Holland or Canada. It is here, in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia where we need to fight the battle for reason. It is here where the battle will be the most hard-hitting, it is here where reason needs to triumph, and it is here where we can’t afford to lose.
Almost every Muslim-majority country is under-developed economically or socially. I believe that when a religion is adopted by a state it stifles progress. Pakistanis are running 40,000 Madrasas but 30 percent of the children under the age of 5 are malnourished.
We missed our millennium goals to eradicate polio because we couldn’t run the refrigerators that housed the vaccine, but we spent a fortune on the ‘Islamic bomb’.
This country would praise Mumtaz Qadri (the murderer of Salman Taseer), and yet marginalize the only Nobel laureate of the country because he was from minority sect.
If you want to see how much a hindrance religion can be in the progress of a nation, look at Pakistan.
Created on Monday, 02 January 2012 18:24
By Greg Fish. Originally published on the World of Weird Things blog.
If you’ve ever visited r/atheism or
any major atheist and skeptic sites, you’re probably well aware of the
martyr complex, the guilt trip used by religious fundamentalists who
believe that not being allowed to impose the will of their leaders on
the rest of the society they inhabit, is tantamount to persecution. In
the United States this is often played out in attempts to institute
public prayer, force the government to somehow declare a preference for
Christianity as the national religion, or at least as the preferred
religion of the state. In Israel, ultra-Orthodox communities’ demands to
segregate and control the nation have far more severe consequences.
Their towns in West Bank settlements are quickly becoming security hazards according to growing voices from the IDFand
lately, they’ve gone overboard by invoking the history of Jewish
persecution in Europe in a way that I could only describe as downright
shameful. Jewish history is filled with stories of being chased out of
counties and hunted down by members of other faiths. and those stories
are quoted on a regular basis. But not like this.
Created on Friday, 16 December 2011 06:14
Atheist Alliance International mourns the death of the incomparable Christopher Hitchens.
Created on Monday, 12 December 2011 21:54
The Roman Catholic Church in Italy is under growing pressure to start
paying taxes on its massive property portfolio, in a move that could
raise up to 800 million euros (£680 million) a year and help bail the
country out of its economic crisis.
As the new technocrat government of Mario Monti seeks to slash the nation’s
1.9 trillion euro debt, attention is turning to the estimated 65,000
buildings owned by the Church. According to an estate agency, Gruppo RE,
a fifth of publicly owned properties in Italy are directly or indirectly
controlled by the Church. They include around 50,000 cathedrals, churches and chapels — which would
retain their tax-free status — but 11,000 schools, universities and
libraries as well as nearly 5,000 hospitals, clinics and other commercial
properties would face the tax. All church properties, including those having a
commercial element, have been exempt from taxes since 1982, with an extension put in place in 2006. But critics say the proposed law contains loopholes which can easily be exploited. If a
Church-owned property such as a hotel contains a chapel, for instance, it is
spared the tax.
The Church has long argued that it should be exempt from paying the property
tax because it provides important social services through its schools,
hospitals and community centres. “The Church supports the weakest of society and performs an activity in favour
of society,” said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of
Created on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 01:37
NEW DELHI (AP) -- Worried about its dwindling numbers, the Roman Catholic church
in southern India
is exhorting its flock to have more children, with some parishes
offering free schooling, medical care and even cash bonuses for large
families, church officials
The strategy comes as India's population tops 1.2 billion,
making it the second most populous country in the world after China, and
runs counter to a national government policy of limiting family size.
."The Christian community in Kerala is dwindling. We realized that if
the numbers decreased further, it would have a negative impact on the
community," said Babu Joseph, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops'
Conference of India in New Delhi. So Kerala's Catholic parishes have launched a variety of programs, from
free education to free medical care, said the Rev. Jose Kottayil of the
Kerala Catholic Bishops Council.
Created on Sunday, 02 October 2011 16:02
AFP, Oct. 2 - An Israeli writer
has won a historic court victory granting his request to be officially
registered as "without religion" rather than "Jewish," Israeli newspaperHaaretz reported on Sunday.
turned to the courts in May after the interior ministry refused to
alter his official religious status from Jewish to "without religion,"
And last week, a Tel Aviv court
sided with his demand, ruling that Israeli law allows citizens to be
officially registered as having no religion.
"Freedom from religion is a freedom derived from the right to human dignity, which is protected by the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom," Haaretz quoted the ruling as saying.
Israel registers its citizens
according to both their religion and their ethnicity, although it does
not include an "Israeli" ethnicity, labelling its Jewish citizens as of
"Jewish" ethnicity. That has raised the ire of secular
groups who have petitioned the interior ministry for years to replace
the Jewish ethnicity label with an Israeli one.
Created on Monday, 19 September 2011 21:18
Originally published in Pakistan Today
Members of Pakistani Atheists and Agnostics trying to make their presence known and reach out to others sharing similar beliefs
KARACHI - They realise that they belong to a country where apostasy
means inviting the risk of death – even if spared by government
authorities and courts, a fanatic mob would certainly not.
But they have still chosen to tread a perilous path in their attempt to
reach out to other Pakistanis sharing similar beliefs and more
importantly, to let the world know they exist. They are a group of
Pakistani atheists called the Pakistani Atheists and Agnostics (PAA).
They first tried to make their presence known two years back by making a
page about their group on Facebook. On August 14 this year, they
launched their website www.e-paa.org that was literally an instant hit.
It received more than 17,000 hits in just 48 hours after its launch from
95 countries, including Saudi Arabia.
How did the idea to bring together Pakistani atheists on a single
platform come up? “When I became an atheist, I honestly thought there
were no others like me in Pakistan. Through discussions on various
social networking groups and forums, I found a few others like me. So we
decided to make this group to find out how many more were out there,”
says Hazrat NaKhuda, one of the founding members of the group. For
obvious reasons, the PAA members go by pseudonyms to protect their
Created on Wednesday, 31 August 2011 03:20
Nigeria (AP) — Authorities say at least four people were killed in a
riot in a central Nigerian city that is beset by religious and ethnic
Emergency Management Agency said the fighting began Monday in Jos after
Muslims began praying in a predominantly Christian neighborhood in the
city. Officials with a local Muslim group said the unidentified
attackers used knives, machetes and bows and arrows.
say more than 50 vehicles and 100 motorcycles were set ablaze during
the fighting. Army and police moved into the affected neighborhood late
Jos sits in the
Nigeria's "middle belt," where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control
of fertile lands and political and economic power. Nigeria is largely
divided into a Christian south and Muslim north.
Created on Wednesday, 24 August 2011 08:07
From the Secular Humanist League of Brazil, an AAI Affiliate Member:
One year and a half has passed since the foundation of the Secular Humanist League of Brazil, LiHS, the owner of this debuting blog. So many things have happened since then that I am caught in the vertigo of loads of long term memory yet to be consolidated. (And my routine as a rebel sleeper has most certainly something to do with that.)
I remember vividly my dream of taking Brazil and more of Latin America to the global secularist community, especially reaching IHEU (International Humanist and Ethical Union). Well, we did it! And it happened last week, when our international relations director Daniel Martin traveled from France to Norway (yes, to Oslo, the site of that conservative Christian terrorist attack) to attend the General Assembly in the World Humanist Congress, where we were approved as members of IHEU. Also, before that, LiHS joined the Atheist Alliance International.
Created on Sunday, 18 December 2011 05:23
Here we go again.
This weekend, the Dutch government released its own report on the sexual abuses of the Catholic Church in its country, slamming the Vatican for tens of thousands of Dutch children being raped by Catholic priests over the past 65 years as well as the now-well-established pattern of church hierarchy coverup and denials. This follows equally scathing reports in recent years from the United States, Canada, Ireland,
Belgium, Germany, and other countries that have also documented widespread cases of
children suffering at the hands of Catholic clergy and others working at
church institutions. Based on these reports and the lack of substantial accountability held against the Catholic church, abuse victims rightly called on the International Criminal Court in September to investigate the pope and top Vatican cardinals for possible crimes against humanity.
The Dutch Catholic Archbishop Wim Eijk responded to the report by offering to buy off the victims, offering anywhere from €5,000 to €100,000 “depending on the nature of the abuse”.
Presumably without irony, he said he felt personally ashamed of the abuse. "It is terrible," he said.
How "Christian" of him.
Created on Tuesday, 13 December 2011 05:46
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi authorities have executed a woman convicted of practicing magic and sorcery.
The Saudi Interior Ministry says in a statement the execution took place Monday, but gave no details on the woman's crime.
The London-based al-Hayat daily, however, quoted Abdullah al-Mohsen,
chief of the religious police who arrested the woman, as saying she had
tricked people into thinking she could treat illnesses, charging them
$800 per session.
said a female investigator followed up, and the woman was arrested in
April, 2009, and later convicted in a Saudi court.
It did not give the woman's name, but said she was in her 60s.
The execution brings the total to 76 this year in Saudi Arabia, according to an Associated Press count. At least three have been women.
Created on Friday, 09 December 2011 23:36
Well, frankly that's up to you!
Far from the grumpy and miserable sentiments sometimes
attributed to atheists at this time of year, we see AAI's members
happily celebrating with family and friends.
"It's simple, we celebrate Santa Claus!”
"Open presents, eat, visit family -
what humans have been doing for thousands of years to celebrate the
return of longer days!”
Paul [presumably in the northern hemisphere!]
"Isaac Newton, the founder of western
civilization, was born Dec 25, 1642. At our house we celebrate
"Newtonmass" on Dec 25. In the morning we do optics experiments, in the
afternoon we do differentials and integrals, and in the evening we scoff
at alchemy and biblical chronology. It makes for an interesting day."
Whatever you do or don't do to celebrate the holiday season let us know at info [at] atheistalliance [dot] org!
Created on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 14:53
Yet another example of entrenched sexism within religion....and a failure to understand what "freedom of speech" actually means. Originally published in the New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2011/10/11/2011-10-11_city_in_signoff_removal_of_posts_irks_hasid_nabe.html
City workers have removed signs warning women in a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn to step aside for men.
But the Parks Department says the teardowns in South Williamsburg had nothing to do with the message itself; it's just illegal to post signs on street trees.
"We do not know who put up the signs," said Parks spokeswoman Trish Bertuccio.
The large signs started popping up in the neighborhood more than a week ago. They had a Yiddish message that translates as: "Precious Jewish daughter, please move to the side when a man approaches."
Created on Sunday, 25 September 2011 22:06
Sent to AAI from its Affiliate the Nigerian Humanist Movement. Originally published in Sahara Reporters.
Stupendously wealthy Nigerian Pentecostal preachers and clerics have
come under serious attack at the two-day national convention of the
Nigerian Humanist Movement (NHM), which ended Saturday afternoon in
Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The forum brought together students, children, scholars, government
officials, atheists, sceptics, rationalists, agnostics, freethinkers and
professionals from different fields to discuss Humanism as the next
step in Nigeria.
Declaring open the forum which marked the 15th anniversary of the
birth of the NHM, Leo Igwe, the administrative secretary of the Oyo
State –NHM, told participants that many people across Nigeria and
the world were looking up to them. “Meetings like this should spread
message of reason, science and free inquiry, and usher in an era of
positive and progressive change, hope and light,” he charged.
Created on Monday, 05 September 2011 18:29
All is now set for the historic convention of the Nigerian Humanist Movement to be held on September 23 to 24 at Vines Hotel Durumi in Abuja. The event will be the first meeting of the county’s growing community of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers,secularists and skeptics at the Federal Capital of Nigeria. Many friends of humanists and supporters of humanism and freethought including university teachers and students will attend. The theme of the convention is HUMANISM AS THE NEXT STEP.
This convention marks the 15th anniversary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement (NHM).
The event is taking place at a crucial time Nigeria is grappling with the problems of religious extremism, superstition and related human rights abuses.
Some years ago Nigeria was polled as one the most religious nation on earth. It may still remain the case today. The fact is that most Nigerians, at least nominally, profess one religion-mainly Christianity or Islam- or the other. Most Nigerians identify with the faith of their families, communities and tribes. Few Nigerians are openly and expressly non religious. All Nigerians are pressured socially and politically to be religious and to remain religious. So most Nigerians who are non religious and who renounce religion remain in the closet. NHM provides a sense of community to all non religious and non theistic Nigerians and strives to bring a humanist perspective to issues of national importance.
Created on Friday, 26 August 2011 17:57
It is almost a year since the Al Shabab militia penetrated the Kenyan borders and caused havoc to
international aid organizations. Aside from planting grenades in Eastliegh, they dropped grenades on to
children’s playing fields, and many explosions were witnessed in Kenya around this time in 2010. Incidences pile up on the ‘yet to be investigated’ as the government assures its citizens,
whereas nothing much is done on that front.
The Al Shabab incidence in Mogadishu consumed four of my relatives and left a huge gap in my family life. I lost
people who contributed to my purpose of living. My wife founded and ran the Abu-Bakr Foundation, an organization
that was permitted to distribute medical Aid in Somalia and Sudan, and apparently she was blasted in the name of Allah.
Sad memories. But I just recently met some refugees and some of these were Somalis who had benefited in great
length from the hand of the Foundation. They were expecting me to have
transformed into joining their religious ideologues, leaving the path of those
who are astray, for my son had a Muslim name. Mostly so, they expected the
magnitude of loss to have influenced my practice into softer relenting. Either
I was destined to become a Rasta or some religious icon. But the JAF Festival
disappointed many to a great length, and in my inbox, I started receiving
questions related to my atheism. For example, where did mankind originate? And
my understanding of the phrase, from dust we came and to dust we shall return.
They were bothered by my theorem of no afterlife and no day of judgment, and
astonishingly warned me thoroughly of misfortunes that could be planted in my
path, for I am a disgrace to the African race.
Created on Tuesday, 23 August 2011 10:01
An increasing number of Nigeria's 70 million Christians are followers of the prosperity teachings - the belief that prosperity is a sign of spiritual blessing. Services are held in megachurches that hold thousands, with millionaire pastors preaching the word.
A lady scrolls down the screen of her tablet PC as she reads the Bible along with the rest of the congregation, a huge diamond-encrusted ring shining on her finger.
Hanging from the ceiling of the Household of God Church are several chandeliers, lighting up a plush 5,000-seat auditorium.
A water fountain hisses in the distance, though it is only heard when the dazzling character on stage singing passionately and occasionally speaking in tongues falls into silence.
This is the Reverend Chris Okotie, a former pop star turned pastor, businessman and politician.
A recent Forbes rich list included him among Nigeria's five wealthiest pastors, with assets of anywhere between $3m and $10m. But is he truly this rich?
"Possibly," he replies, with his giant multi-coloured Jacob & Co brand wristwatch shining from the end of his sleeve.