Iran is one of seven nations...

Iran is one of seven nations (Afghanistan, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan being the other six) where apostasy is legally punishable by death.  A stronger incentive not to be counted as infidel is probably harder to come by. And yet, to date, 3,468 atheists in Iran have gone to atheistcensus.com to do just that.

To be part of society in Iran, religious affiliation – Muslim or otherwise - is required: for official forms, for social inclusion, for just appearing “normal”.  Despite the religious appearance, Iran is one of the top 10 contributors to the Atheist Census, suggesting that atheists do indeed exist there.  It’s just that they are hidden.

In this context, it was heartening and harrowing to receive an unsolicited email from an Iranian woman who warmly thanked the creators of Atheist Census for giving her a forum to be counted.  It was notable that she identified herself as atheist, an Iranian and a global citizen.  She was appreciative, but was not satisfied with counting herself anonymously.  She mentioned that she was going to tell her “numerous” non-religious friends about the site.

According to the latest statistics on Atheist Census, 88% of Iranians who took the short, six question survey, were raised Muslim.  They have now rejected their (former) faith.  They are apostates.  The entomology of apostasy comes from the Greek “apostasia” which means “revolt”.  When apostasy is possibly a life and death situation, it is not hyperbole to say that being counted as an atheist is a revolutionary act.  Perhaps it is even more so when a woman professes herself as infidel, given the oppression of women in particular in Islamic countries.  This atheist, this Iranian, indeed this global citizen who was counted in Atheist Census and then took the time to send me an email, was one woman among the (only) 20% of Iranians who have been counted in Atheist Census that identify as female.

Often surveys are important to those who have created them.  This short story shows that some surveys can also be important to those who participate in them.

AAI President Carlos A. Diaz shows his support for Imad Iddine Habib on International Imad Day!


AAI President, Carlos A. Diaz shows his support for Imad Iddine Habib.

Join us for International Imad Day! Tell the world that you, too, will face injustice!

Find more information here: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/2013/05/international-imad-day/

Secular World 12 - Sanderson Jones of the Atheist Church

Jake and Han interview Sanderson Jones of the new Atheist Church in London.  Listen and enjoy!

Secular World Episode 11 - Bills, Boston and Bangladesh

In their “welcome back” episode, Jake and Han discuss the sneaky politics of the Christian right, the exclusion of humanists and atheists from the post-bombing events in Boston, and the free speech protests this week.  Enjoy it all here!

Defend Dissent - Support the Bangladeshi atheist bloggers

On 25 April Atheist Alliance International stands in solidarity with the Bangladesh atheist bloggers who have been arrested and persecuted simply for expressing their views.   If you support freedom of expression, then support the bloggers today by:

joining a protest in New York, Washington DC, Columbia (MO), Ottowa, Calgary, Toronto, London or Dhaka
- writing a letter of protest to a Bangladesh embassy
- contacting your members of parliament to highlight the situation
supporting a petition to the Bangladeshi government
- posting about the bloggers on Facebook and/or tweeting with the hastags #Bangladesh #Bloggers and #DefendDissent
 

Tree Planting at Kasese Humanist Primary School

Pupils at Kasese Humanist Primary School numbering close to sixty participated in an event that involved planting of trees along their recently acquired permanent site on the river banks of River Nyamwamba, which borders the property in the west.

The students left  from school in the evening hours of Thursday 18 April 2013 led by the School Director accompanied by the School Headteacher plus some 3 teachers.  Movement to this site was by foot from the current site, along the Kasese - Fortportal highway, and they purchased a number of trees seedlings from a nearby nursery bed.  We passed along the Majengo-Rukoki Trading center and headed to the School Project.

The children were so excited to learn of the news that this is going to be a future permanent home of the school. They posed for a photograph at the recently plastered building within the property. There are some plantains, bumpkins, pepper and mangoes and the kids tried their luck and took what was available.

Each child planted a tree in a hole and the trees will be looked after such that they grow and as it's rainy season now, there is a good chance they will grow. This exercise took close to two hours.

The purpose of the trees along the river bunks includes to curb soil erosion, provide shade and fresh air and to add on the beauty of the scenery. This exercise is going to continue in more weeks to come.

A fundraising campaign is in progress as the school management tries to mobilise resources to put up classroom blocks on the site and all well wishers and friends of Kasese Humanist Primary School are encouraged to support us materially, financially or morally such that we succeed in commencing bigger construction works in March 2014.  If you would like to support Kasese Humanist Primary School please donate through AAI.

AAI Position Statement: Freedom of Expression

Following consultation with members, AAI is pleased to announce that it has finalised its position statement on freedom of expression.  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!  

If You Are Not Free to Dissent You Are Not Free

On the International Day To Defend Apostates and Blasphemers, the Council of Ex-Muslims, an AAI Affiliate, is supporting:

Alex Aan, Indonesia: 30 year old atheist, in prison for saying there is no god on Facebook. Sign petition here.
Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al-Baz (also known as Ben Baz), Kuwait: Blogger and atheist charged with blasphemy.  Support him here.
Turki Al Hamad, Saudi Arabia: Novelist in prison for tweets critical of Islam and Islamism. Write letter here.
Raif Badawi, Saudi Arabia: Charged with apostasy for website that “harms the public order and violates Islamic values”. Sign petition.
- Asia Bibi, Pakistan: 45 year old mother of five, sentenced to death for ‘insulting Mohammad’. Join save Asia Bibi Facebook Page here.
Hamza Kashgari, Saudi Arabia: 23 year old Muslim charged with blasphemy for tweeting about Mohammad and women’s status. Sign petition here and here.
Saeed Malekpour, Iran: Sentenced to death for ‘insulting and desecrating Islam’. Join Free Saeed Malekpour Facebook Page here.
Shahin Najafi, Iran:  A death fatwa for apostasy has been issued for a song critical of an imam.  Support Shahin here.
Ahmad Rajib, Bangladesh: The well-known 35 year old atheist blogger had his head hacked apart with a machete one day after attending anti-Islamist protests.
Alber Saber, Egypt: The atheist blogger has been sentenced to three years in prison for blasphemy. Support him here.

In each of these cases Islam was apparently 'offended', providing 'justification' for the crimes against these apostates and blasphemers.  Those who claim Islam is a religion of peace need to think further about the behaviour of Islamists and how they justify their actions.

Empowering Women Through Secularism

Atheist Ireland, an Affiliate of AAI, will be hosting Empowering Women through Secularism in Dublin, 29-30 June 2013.  The speaker line up is excellent - Annie Laurie Gaylor, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasrin, Ophelia Benson, Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers and Dan Barker, as well as AAI President Carlos Diaz. Don't miss this fantastic opportunity - early bird tickets now on sale for EUR100.  For more information click here.

Secular World Episode 10 - Atheist Churches and Eunuchs

In this episode Jake and Han talk about atheist churches, the accusations of elitism and the horrors committed in the name of faith. They also interview Indian atheist writer Rastam Singh.  Click here for the Secular World podcast.

Secular World Episode 9 - Onanism and Beyond

Jake and Han talk about boy scouts, religious violence and the myth of Christian morality.  Plus a fascinating interview is Roselynne Martinez from PATAS, the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society.  Click here for the Secular World podcast.