A petition urges the UN to come to
the rescue of non-Muslims and non-believers in Pakistan – who are often the
victims of State Religion – and recognise and celebrate 11 August as the
International Day Against State Religion.
As Pakistan makes history and marks
five years of democracy by successfully upholding general elections, conditions
in Pakistan for non-Muslims and non-believers are far from getting any better.
The 2013 election has been termed the most violent election in the history of
Pakistan. The Taliban carried out their threats and attacked
convoys and rallies of secular
and even Islamist
political parties. Here is
a whole timeline of pre-poll violence in Pakistan. Even on Election Day, the violence
Non-Muslim candidates were largely absent
from the elections, but those who ran were voted for because electors felt they
could offer protection. The Christian residents of Joseph
Colony, a Christian community that was
attacked by a Muslim mob earlier this year, voted for the conservative party
Jamaat-i-Islami's non-Muslim candidate because they wanted to vote
Conditions in Pakistan for
non-Muslims are grim.
and again in 2012 the World Council Of Churches stated that minority
religious communities in Pakistan are living in “fear and terror” of
Islamic fundamentalists amid abductions and forced conversions that the
government is helpless to stop.WCC’s
ruling Central Committee declared that Pakistan’s small Hindu
and Christian communities were increasingly subject to “persecution
and discrimination”. Likewise, Ahmaddiya Muslims
outlawed and at the mercy of Islamists. In light of these and other incidents where non-Muslim and non-believer
Pakistanis have been victims of persecution and intolerance, a petition
has been set up calling on the Secretary General of the United Nations to
recognise an International Day Against State Religion on August 11, 2013 “in
solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and
non-believers of Pakistan”. The
petition says "the life of non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan is as
good as hell thanks to the State Religion of Pakistan.” There is now a need for
State Religion to be hit by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Written by Eli Vieira, Secular Humanist League of Brazil
13 February 2012
Originally published on the Secular Humanist League of Brazil's blog here.
In Brazil we’ve witnessed a growth in the number of national representatives elected in 2010 who only work to try and limit individual rights of women, gays and other minorities hated by biblical text. They are known as the “evangelical bench“. I would rather call them “theocratic bench”, since I know not all evangelical Christians think their beliefs should be forced down everyone’s throats, let alone by the power of a purportedly secular government.
Since we’ve got constitutional separation of church and state, we should at least hope their actions were halted. But often government is very dubious. In 2011, Marco Feliciano, a representative who is also a preacher, tried to pass a bill to make religious teaching mandatory for students in public schools. Fortunately, his bill was rejected at once.
On the other hand, public schools have been forced to offer religious teaching for decades, with no orientation whatsoever of what kind of teaching this would be, rendering a not so unexpected result of public tuition hijacked by religious proselytising, as has been proved by human rights scholar Debora Diniz. The law says students can choose not to attend religious teaching, but the truth is that most of them are not even informed of this right.
Another example of religious intrusion is that last July the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro has approved a law that forces public libraries to have bibles in their collections. No such thing has been done in relation to the Quran or the Baghavad Gita, of course.
"Writers and artists have become the soft targets of religious extremists," she said. "The authority tries to appease either Hindu fanatics or Muslim fanatics in India. All the political parties have different agendas, but they have no agenda or intention to value freedom of expression. It's a dangerous race, who can violate free speech more."
recent violent behavior of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Israeli city of
Beit-Shemesh against women (in an earlier reported case an 8 year old
girl who was spat on and called "whore") has escalated.
The woman attacked happens to be the sister of a friend of
mine. This link in a recent series of anti-female attacks in
Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood is especially grotesque when considering
that as she sought cover from the mob in a nearby apartment complex, the
inhabitants shouted and insulted her, causing her to flee and wait
outside for the police to arrive. Although several suspects were
arrested, all were released after questioning and the incident is no
longer being pursued.
The Ultra-Orthodox spokespeople have, predictably, come out to
semi-condemn the violence while making sure to reiterate the inherent
value of the Jewish perception of women. They say that Judaism, unlike
secular culture, defends the honor of the woman by not letting her
become a mere "sex object". None have condemned the background story
which provoked this violence - the forced separation of women and men on
public transportation by Orthodox authorities, relegating women to the
back, of course.
For a brief representation of the Orthodox perception of women as "filthy little things", here is
an op-ed by Yossi Sarid, ex-Knesset Member of the Meretz Party (which
fights for secular rights and for the separation of Synagogue and
A recent poll
has caused much public discussion regarding the religousity of the
Israeli public and how it will effect the future of the country's
identity. This poll is nothing but an indicator that fellow atheists and
humanists in Israel need to start organizing themselves to become the
voice of reason, if they want to prevent the submerging of Israel into
the dark ages of the rabbinic authorities.
is the internet version of the Israeli Newspaper - Yedioth Achronoth,
one of the leading, most widely read newspapers in Israel.
is an Israeli newspaper, affiliated with the International Herald
Tribune (owned by the New York Times), and recognized as one of the only
official outlets of the Israeli left and secular population.
In a 2009 interview Rabczewska said she doubted the Christian holy book "because it's hard to believe in something that was written by someone drunk on wine and smoking some herbs," according to The Associated Press.
Leo Igwe from the Nigerian Humanist Movement, an Affiliate Member of AAI, writes about the need to reform Nigeria's education system to teach students to think critically and help them combat superstition and religious fanaticism.
The trouble began several weeks ago when civil servant Alexander Aan posted a message on the Facebook page of Atheist Minang, a group of Indonesians with godless beliefs. It read: “God doesn’t exist.” The post so enraged residents in Aan’s hometown of Pulau Punjung in West Sumatra province that an angry mob of dozens stormed his office and beat up the 30-year-old. He was then summarily fired and later picked up by Indonesian authorities as part of an investigation of whether he violated the law by 'Insulting Islam'. If convicted of blasphemy, he could face a five-year jail sentence.
But none of this has been enough for some Muslim extremists, who have now called for his beheading. “He has hurt the feelings of the people in Minang society and damaged the religious structure by his posting,” said the local head of the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) Syamsul Bahri Khatib. The Indonesian Council of Ulama is the country's recognized authority on Islamic matters, and the secular government often follows the MUI's recommendations in matters of Islamic law.
Atheist Alliance International has called on the Indonesian authorities to end their persecution of Mr. Aan, as well as contacted several international human rights bodies and governments to put pressure on the Indonesian government. It has also started a legal relief fund for Mr. Aan's assistance. Supporters are encouraged to contribute to allow Mr. Aan the ability to defend himself and his human rights.
Written by Council of Ex-Muslims
07 February 2012
The One Law for All 11 February rally for Free Expression is being held in London from 14:00-16:00 hours at the Old Palace Yard opposite the House of Lords. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain fully supports the action. Speakers are: Richard Dawkins (Scientist); A C Grayling (Philosopher); Alex Gabriel (Blogger); Anne Marie Waters (One Law for All); Caroline Cox (Peer); Derek Lennard (Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association); Faisal Gazi (Spittoon.org); Gita Sahgal, (Centre for Secular Space); Hasan Afzal (Stand for Peace); Jennifer Hardy (Queen Mary Atheism Humanism and Secularism Society); Jenny Bartle (National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies); Jim Fitzpatrick (MP); Kate Smurthwaite (Comedian); Kenan Malik (Writer); Lilith (Poet, Anti-Injustice Movement) ; Marco Tranchino (Central London Humanist Group); Mark Embleton (Atheism UK); Maryam Namazie (One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain); Nick Cohen (Writer); Nick Doody (Comedian); Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters); Rashid Ali (Centri); Rhys Morgan (Student activist); Roy Brown (International Humanist and Ethical Union); Rupert Sutton (Student Rights); Sohaila Sharifi (Equal Rights Now); Sue Cox (Survivors Voice Europe); Sundas Hoorain (London School of Economics Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society); Susan Zhuang (University College London Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society); Terry Sanderson/Keith Porteous Wood (National Secular Society); and Yasmin Rehman (Campaigner). There will also be messages from Jesus and Mo creator and Richard Dawkins. Iranian Secular Society’s Fariborz Pooya will be the Master of Ceremonies.
Written by Alexandre F. Shimono, News Team
06 February 2012
On February 12th, next Sunday (the anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday), Brazil will have its first national atheist meeting in several State Capitals. So far, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, Pará, Amazonas, Rondônia, Acre, Amapá, Maranhão, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco, Sergipe e Bahia and the country capital Brasilia have confirmed the event.
The event was planned by Sociedade Racionalista (official website of the event) and it has support from several atheist/humanist/agnostic organizations such as LiHS (an Affiliate Member of AAI), ATEA, Ateus do Brasil, Ateísmo pelo mundo (NGO) and the blog from Paulo Lopes, a well known atheist journalist.
"Mobilization to arrange the meeting - despite of results it may have - shows that Brazilian atheists, specially the young, are starting to organize all over the country using the internet. The idea of the meeting was conceived on Facebook." says Paulo Lopes in his blog.
Thanks to generous donations from many AAI members and supporters
renovations at the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda are going
AAI received a report from the school today noting that the kitchen
and new toilets have been finished, and renovations are underway on a
school dormitory so that children can board at the school - beds have
been ordered and fencing of the area is in progress. Also, 20 class
desks have been purchased for the new P.7 class.
Ply-woods being fixed as partitions of the rooms. Bwambale Robert, the school Project Directoris seen in the photo above supervising the renovations exercise.
Jeannine Marino, program specialist for evangelization & catechesis at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CP that atheists who seek to be "de-baptized" or "un-baptized" cannot technically do so. "From the Church's perspective, it is impossible to 'un-baptize' or 'de-baptize' someone because we believe that baptism permanently seals the person to Christ and the Church," said Marino. "People can stop participating in the Church, but we believe the grace of the sacrament has marked them forever."
One wonders how well the Church knows its own doctrinal scripture? Jesus is quoted in Matthew 12:31-32 that "blaspheming the Holy Ghost" is the one sin that can never be forgiven. An internet Youtube campaign to violate Matthew 12:31-32 by denying the existence of the Christian "Holy Ghost" went viral in the US in the 2000s, leading to tens of thousands of videos being posted on-line. In any case, the Church seems loathe to give up any of the numbers of followers they claim they have in support of the Church worldwide, even if it goes against Jesus' own mandates.
Indonesian authorities must support freedom of speech and conscience
Atheist Alliance International launches appeal to support Alexander Aan
Atheist Alliance International (AAI)
demands that the Indonesian government support freedom of speech and
freedom of conscience by immediately releasing Alexander Aan from
custody and dropping all charges against him, pursuing the perpetrators
of the physical attack against Aan and repealing the country’s
oppressive anti-blasphemy legislation.
simply expressed his view that there is no god. In contrast, his
attackers assaulted a real person and must be brought to justice,” said
AAI President Tanya Smith.
“Indonesia’s anti-blasphemy laws are
an appalling relic from the country’s period of dictatorship. They
should be repealed as an essential step towards the freedom of
Indonesia's people and the country's participation in the modern world,”
Karl Karnadi, an Indonesian atheist
associated with AAI said "Any religious person would say that gods of
other religions do not exist. Why should Alex be arrested for
effectively saying the same? Just because he is an atheist doesn't mean
that he should be jailed. Religious and non-religious people are going
to disagree and that may offend some, but that's a natural outcome from
people having different views. Such an absurd law should not exist in
Indonesia or in any other place."
Police in Dharmasraya, western
Sumatra, on Friday (20 January) said that Aan had been charged with
blasphemy for postings he made on a 1,200-member Facebook group.
Aan had initially been taken into
‘protective custody’ after he was beaten by a mob of religious zealots.
There have been no indications that his assailants will face
prosecution. Aan, a civil servant, has also been threatened with the
loss of his job.
Indonesia officially recognizes only six faith traditions: Islam,
protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and
Confucianism. Citizens are forced to choose from one of these traditions
when applying for identification cards.
Alliance International has launched an appeal for donations to help pay
for Aan's legal costs and to support the Aan family's living expenses
while he is in jail, at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate (Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan).
UPDATE: Please sign the petition to support Alexander Aan here.
Nigeria’s most deadly Islamist sect, Boko Haram, has just detonated mutiple
bombs in the city of Kano. Curfew has been imposed and the city, the
state and the entire nation is engulfed in tension, fear and
uncertainty. Several lives have reportedly been lost. This group appears
unrelenting in its murderous campaign.
Kano has joined the ranks of northern states -Borno, Yobe,
Adamawa, Plateau, Niger where the terror of Boko Haram holds sway.
Religious crisis orchestrated by Muslim fundamentalists is not new to
this northern city but these attacks have brought a frightening
dimension to Islamic militancy in the region.
The Spokesperson of Boko Haram, Abdul Qaqa, told journalists
that they carried out the attacks on the city because the authorities
had refused to release their members arrested and detained by the
police. So with these attacks, Boko Haram has sent very clear signals to
the authorities in Kano and beyond- “Capitulate”, “Surrender”, “Do our
Bidding”, “Join forces with us”, “Embrace our cause” or “Be destroyed”.
Since last year, Boko Haram has carried out bomb attacks on several
institutions including the UN building and police headquarters in Abuja.
This militant group has targeted churches and southerners or anyone
they percieved to be opposed to their cause of implementing sharia and
enthroning political islam. It has declared a war on anybody, muslims
as well as non muslims, opposed to or critical of its cause. This is
characteristic of the totalitarian nature of political Islam- a social
political and economic order based on Sharia.
A fringe movement that started with a group of Islamic
preachers on the streets of Maiduguri a few years ago, has turned to a
real threat to Nigeria’s corporate existence and a terror to the world.
Atheist Alliance was established in 1991 as a
democratic network of US-based atheist organizations plus one non-US
organization. Over time Atheist Alliance
expanded to include more non-US members and changed its name to Atheist
Alliance International (AAI) in 2001. In
2010 AAI had 31 US-based affiliates and 18 non-US based affiliates. At this time the board of AAI concluded that
its goals could be achieved more effectively by separating into two
organizations – one focused on US local and national issues and one focused on
providing a supportive global network for atheist and freethought organizations
around the world. In October 2010 the
separation was approved in principle by AAI’s members and in June 2011 AAI effectively
separated into Atheist Alliance International and Atheist Alliance of America.