WRITTEN BY FARAN J, AAI NEWS TEAM
Pakistan is a country that celebrated Minorities Day in Canada - because it was too unsafe in Pakistan. That alone is enough for anyone to get a decent idea of how bad the situation is for Pakistan's minorities. Pakistan's minorities have a long history of persecution, sometimes at the hands of Muslim hardliners and sometimes at the hands of the very State they pay taxes to protect their life and property. Today it seems there is little to no place for Pakistani minorities in the country that they helped create 66 years ago.
The trouble for Pakistani minorities started way back when Ahmaddiya Muslims were declared heretics and a huge persecution campaign was launched against them in Pakistan, the most memorable being the anti-Ahmaddiya riots of 1953. Jamaat-e-Islami was one of the notable parties that participated in the persecution campaign against Ahmaddiya Muslims and is still aggressively anti-Ahmaddiya today.
Most Kenyans are Christians with other members of the population practicing Islam, Hinduism, the Baha’i faith, Sikhism and traditional African religions. However, according to the Daily Nation, the number of atheists and agnostics in Kenya is on the increase. At last count there were about one million Kenyans (2.5% of the population) who said they did not belong to any religion. This number is relatively small but at 2.5% of the population, the religiously unaffiliated outnumber Hindus, Sikhs and followers of the Baha’i faith.
I would argue though, that there are more than one million non-believers in Kenya. Were the stigma attached to atheism removed or lessened, more people would be willing to openly admit they don’t believe that a god or gods exist. In a society where religion is so deeply entrenched it is easier to hide your disbelief rather than risk being made an outcast. It is easier to hide your disbelief than risk rejection from your family and friends or risk hurting your career prospects.
Any Kenyan coming out as an atheist, agnostic or freethinker will undoubtedly face some form of discrimination at some point. Some religious Kenyans won’t understand why anyone would renounce their religion. In another article on the rise of atheism in Kenya, one atheist speaks of a time his mother called in pastors from my own native country, Zambia, to exorcise him of his demons. The only explanation for any explanation for atheism this woman could accept was demonic possession, a form of possession so strong she had to call in preachers from another country.
To uphold Islamic beliefs, people are limited to what they are exposed to so that they cannot think of anything in contrary with Islam. To reach this goal, censorship is used to prevent people from understanding, acting and even thinking of facts that Islam rejects. There are many different ways of censoring in Islam to keep people in the Muslim scholars’ ideal condition of ignorance. One of the most ridiculous methods that truly bothers me is censorship in books, especially in educational books just like my book.
To improve my English, I have taken a Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) course. Learners of English around the world who are taking the CAE course may not have any idea about books published for the same course in Iran. The versions here are not the original. Actually some changes are made before publishing. However, original ones can be found rarely. One of my classmates owns one.
Malala Yousafzai: one girl with one idea who refused to be silent. An education activist, she was working on educational rights and women’s rights in the Swat valley. Her weapons were knowledge and education in resistance to the violence perpetrated by the Taliban of Pakistan who are against female education.
In Swat valley the Taliban have at times banned females from going to school and getting an education. Malala – a strong and brave soul who stood up against all odds to provide a voice to the voiceless – was made a target by the Taliban gunmen. They wanted to silence her, but they failed.
Malala was shot in the head and neck but survived and is back on her feet with even more hope, strength and courage to carry on. She is still advocating peace and rights for everyone, with education and without the use of violence.
A shout out to the godless! Atheist Alliance International is proud to support its Affiliate, Atheist Alliance of America, and its 2013 Convention in Boston 30 August - 2 September 2013.