Created on Saturday, 21 January 2012 08:00
Originally published in the Daily Times
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.
Created on Thursday, 19 January 2012 16:10
Yesterday we shared a great article about Indonesian Atheists
and its work to stand up for rational thought in Indonesia. Today we
heard that an Indonesian man has been bashed and may be charged with
blasphemy after he posted "God does not exist" on his Facebook page.
Blasphemy laws restrict free speech in an effort to protect religion
from legitimate scrutiny and criticism. If religion could actually
withstand rational appraisal it wouldn't need such protection.
‘God Does Not Exist’ Comment Ends Badly for Indonesia Man
Original published in The Jakarta Globe
Indonesian civil servant who posted “God does not exist” on his
Facebook page has been taken into police custody for his own protection
after he was badly beaten.
man, identified as Alexander, 31, now faces the prospect of losing his
job, or even being jailed, if he fails to repent and accept one of six
official state religions.
Blasphemy carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
media reported that when Alexander arrived at work at the Dharmasraya
Development Planning Board (Bappeda) on Wednesday, a group of men, also
understood to comprise government officials, attacked and beat him
before police arrived and took him into protective custody.
Police Chief Sr. Comr. Chairul Aziz told the Jakarta Globe that
Alexander moderated a Facebook account titled “Ateis Minang” (Minang
Atheists) and had written an update that “God does not exist.”
said he could not confirm the reports that Alexander was attacked but
say that he had taken into protective custody to “anticipate anarchy.”
“Besides, he is also afraid of being intimidated or hurt.”
Created on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 13:11
This article was originally published in The Jakarta Globe
At first glance, Karl Karnadi may look like any other 20-something trying to find his place in the world. It doesn’t take long, however, to realize there is something positively different about him.
Consciously argumentative, eagerly opinionated and thoroughly knowledgeable, Karl stands for something many Indonesians still find utterly unfathomable: He is an outspoken atheist, and the founder of the rapidly growing Indonesian Atheists community.
Karl, 29, does not keep his beliefs private, something many other Indonesian atheists have chosen to do in the face of frequent hostility. He makes no bones about his rejection of what he refers to as supernaturally infused beliefs, and he is passionate about fostering a fundamental change in Indonesia while remaining realistic about the challenges.
Furthermore, Karl promotes tolerance, and is far less hostile toward religion than some of the world’s most recognized scholars of nonbelief such as Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett and Richard Dawkins.
Established in 2008, Karl’s IA has 677 active members on its Facebook page who discuss the profusion of religiously related topics around the country.
The IA community has also taken part in a variety of scientific and philosophical seminars and gatherings, and has expanded its ties with similar groups outside Indonesia.
“We’ve built a network with other nonbelievers and humanist organizations in Southeast Asia,” Karl says.
With other atheist associations in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, IA has established a joint Web site called Southeast Asian Atheists, or sea-atheists.org, which hopes to broaden the discussion among atheists from different backgrounds.
“Starting last year, we have also affiliated ourselves with a global network called Atheist Alliance International, through which we build close contacts with similar communities around the world,” Karl said. “From Pakistan, Brazil, Ireland and Afghanistan, there are atheists and agnostics everywhere.”
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 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 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 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.