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.
Following consultation with members, AAI is pleased to announce that it has finalised its position statement on government support for religion. This statement is intended to provide a concise reference and coherent argument that members and other atheists may use in situations in their own countries, and refute the common accusation that 'atheists stand for nothing'. Thank you everyone who contributed their views!
Written by Leo Igwe, Nigerian Humanist Movement
30 October 2012
This tribute to Sheila Solarin, matron of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, was published in The Nation, Nigeria.
On Sunday, October 21, the co-founder of Mayflower School, Sheila Solarin passed away. Sheila like the late husband, Tai Solarin, was an educationist. She devoted her entire life to working and campaigning to improve the quality of education in Nigeria. And through her Mayflower Schools, she provided that high quality education to Nigerian children. I encountered Sheila not so much in her capacity as an educationist but more in her role as the matron of the Nigerian Humanist Movement(NHM). Very few Nigerians know about Sheila’s humanist credentials especially that she continued the tradition left behind by Tai of supporting secular education and also promoting the humanist outlook.
Atheist Alliance International (AAI) urges the Indonesian government to review its laws that restrict freedom of speech in light of the unjust sentence of Alexander Aan, an atheist who was persecuted and jailed for expressing his views and who is now seeking recourse with the nation’s Supreme Court.
In January 2012, Aan was attacked by a mob after posting “God does not exist” on his Facebook wall. While his assailants received no reprimand, Aan was taken into police custody and, in June, was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment for "disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility."
“While we are hopeful that Alexander will find justice with his appeal, it remains an outrageous affront to human dignity and intellectual freedom that he was ever imprisoned,” said AAI President Carlos A. Diaz. “In order to ensure that this type of travesty does not happen again, it’s imperative that the Indonesian government take action to nullify or replace the unjust laws that have enabled his persecution.”
The imprisonment of Aan, whom Amnesty International has recognized as a “prisoner of conscience,” is contrary to international norms and universal human rights. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief has maintained that “the right to freedom of religion or belief does not include the right to have a religion or belief that is free from criticism or ridicule.”
The influential thinker known as the "father of secular humanism", Paul Kurtz, died on 20 October 2012 at age 86. His numerous book, articles and talks substantially contributed to the development of secular, humanist values as an alternative worldview to religion, and encouraged people to think critically about religion and its impact on society. This valuable work will be continued by many organisations that Paul Kurtz helped develop, including the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
Atheist Alliance International offers its condolences to Paul Kurtz' family, friends and colleagues.
Written by Carlos A. Diaz, AAI President
21 October 2012
Audience at the Congress AAI President Carlos A. Diaz
Last month, with AAI Director Alexandre Shimono, I was very pleased to represent AAI at the First Secular Humanist Congress in Brazil. This was an important event hosted by AAI's Affiliate, LiHS, as it was the first time a group of atheists, humanists and secularists had gathered for this kind of occasion in Brazil. The IHEU and HIVOS supported the Congress and over 200 people attended, including 88 students sponsored by Atheist Alliance International. Attendees enjoyed interesting speeches and were head to say "this is historical!' and 'this is amazing!'. A report from LiHS is below.
I was very pleased to see that the Congress (and AAI's support for it) received coverage in Estado de Sao Paulo, one of Brazil's most important newspapers. Congratulations LiHS on a successful event I hope the enthusiasm from the Congress assists your work in Brazil! _____
LiHS report: The 1st Secular Humanist Conference of Brazil was a remarkable success More than 200 people from all over the country attended to the conference in Porto Alegre
"Getting together and showing to society that it is possible to live ethically and to find meaning in life, without God." This was only one of the objectives of CHS 2012 – a two day, tour de force towards a more rational, more humanist and more secular Brazil.
Brendan Maher launched first ever information stall about secularism, humanism and atheism in Ireland on 6 October 2012 in Dublin's city centre. Brendan says:
"The purpose of this initiative is to furnish information on secularism, humanism and atheism to the person in the street.
This idea began about two and a half years ago when I noticed that there were about two or three street preachers in the vicinity of the GPO. Since then the number has grown to about nine. There are a range of different Christian groups and a few Islamic and Hari Krishna people. I felt that there had to be an alternative view given, a rational, ethical, scientific and realistic view of things.
Although we live in the era of the computer there are still many people who live their lives without reference to the computer. A stall like this and the personal approach can be quite effective. I do not see it as proselytising but as an information exercise to help raise awareness with regards to secularism, humanism and atheism.
Because of the success of this first event I plan to have the stall at the GPO on the first Saturday of each month from 12 to 2 pm. Perhaps this could be done in other cities in the country.
Written by Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
18 October 2012
One Law for All's 4th Passion for Freedom Art Festival will be held dring 3-10 November 2012 showcasing the work of 40 artists from 20 countries worldwide. The artists will be addressing crucial issues related to freedom and religious laws.
The viewing and festival will be held at UNIT 24 Gallery, 20 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0FD (Closest Underground station: Southwark).
In Pakistan, two young women have recently become the target of violence and accusations of blasphemy, as retribution for speaking out about modernisation and education, or for simply belonging to a minority group, highlighting ongoing divisions in the country.
Malala Yousazai , a 15 year old girl, was attacked earlier this month for being an activist for the rights of children and education for girls.  Malala was shot in the head by a member of the Pakistani Taliban, for what a spokesman for the Taliban claimed as ‘obscenity’ and bringing secular and Western ideas to Pakistan. She has since been moved to a military hospital then to the UK, and while there are hopeful signs she remains in a critical condition. This incident has resulted in public outcry within and outside Pakistan, suggesting that violent and unjust acts may not be as acceptable as the perpetrators appear to believe. Avaaz has started a petition to support Malala and the right of Pakistani girls to receive an education.
The attack on Malala follows the 16 August arrest in Mahrabad, Pakistan, of a 14-year-old girl on a charge of blasphemy. Rimsha Masih spent two weeks in remand in an adult prison after her accuser said she had been carrying a bag of refuse which included burnt pages of the Koran. As blasphemy laws in Pakistan decree a life in prison for anyone who defiles the Koran, and require no evidence other than the word of the accuser, there is little hope for most who are accused. 
Attention atheists in Argentina! The Congress of Free Thought of the Americas will be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina 16-18 November. Enjoy a full weekend of rational thinking, including a talk by Carlos A. Diaz, President of Atheist Alliance International. For more information: Congress website (English) / Congress website (Español).
First the good news: Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, one member of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, was released from custody.
Now the bad news: Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, the other two members arrested in a February protest outside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February, are looking at two years in a penal colony for their so-called “hooliganism,” according to the Associated Press. 
We have written  previously about the religious implications of their arrest, but a new statement reported by the AP reminds us this is in no way about a secular government protecting the practice of religion. It is about the power of the Russian Orthodox Church over the Russian government.
The Russian Orthodox Church said the women would be released or treated with leniency “if the three women repented,” according to the AP article. 
For their part, even faced with years in a penal camp, the women said “they could not repent because they harbored no religious hatred and had committed no crime. Their protest, they said, was against Putin and the church hierarchy for openly supporting his rule,” according to the AP. 
Attorneys for the two remaining prisoners will appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights. 
In this episode, Jake and Han talk Muslim outrage; the astonishing ways prayer "changes your brain"; Call to end Sharia courts in the UK; anti-blasphemy laws, and Jake talks to the awesome Holly Warland about being an atheist in a wheelchair... and so much more. Lastly, listener feedback.
The Secular World podcast is produced by Han Hills and Jake Farr-Wharton, the opening theme for Secular World is Beat 144 by Lamont Coal, featured on by Philosophy Major at http://www.philosophymajor.bandcamp.com and closing theme is In A Bind, by Chloe and Darren Sinclair. All music is used with permission.
More information has come to light regarding the arrest of Alber Saber in Egypt, as reported by The Examiner on 16 September 2012, including reports of Saber being abused while in captivity by other prisoners who were incited against him, and also of his mother being further harassed by the mob, which threatened to burn her alive in her own home unless she leaves the neighbourhood. 
There is now a petition to free Alber Saber, which quotes a television interview with Saber’s mother, where she indicated that her son had been tortured for three days in custody, and that no lawyers are prepared to assist them, due to receiving death threats themselves.
Atheist Alliance International encourages all readers to show their support for Albert Saber, and for the freedom of expression, through signing the petition.
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.