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.

Carlos Diaz on American Freethought Podcast

AAI President Carlos Diaz talks with hosts David Driscoll and John Snyder about his background and religious education in Argentina, Atheist Census and other AAI activities.  The interview starts at around the 10:15 mark.

Secular World podcast 008 - Atheist Census

The end of the world; Atheist Census with Carlos Diaz, AAI President; David Ince, the Carribean Atheist; and so much more! Enjoy! Contact the show by emailing podcast [at] atheistalliance [dot] org.  Click here for the latest podcast.  And yes, we've re-numbered the podcasts, we're just mysterious like that.

Alexander Aan update

A member of Indonesian Atheists recently visited Alexander Aan in prison. The visitor was able to bring food and drink for Alex and spoke with him for around 20 minutes. Alex appears to be well, socialising with other prisoners and communicating with the officers.  Alex and the visitor discussed recent news related to secularism and atheism and Alex provided a copy of some of his recent notes, including (on the second page)  "I always concern in humanity and science and never come back to Islam", "I need to leave Indonesia quickly" and "I need to be myself".  Alex also thanked his supporters: "Thank (you) for all my friend who support(ed) me all the way".

Alex's appeal to the Indonesian Supreme Court is in process.  Atheist Alliance International is raising funds to support Alex's legal case and, separately, to assist him to study outside Indonesia after his release if possible.  If you would like to help Alex please donate here.

AAI's Top 10 Atheist / Religious Discrimination Stories of 2012

1.  The Rise of 'Nones' in the World

A survey released by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in late 2012 identified the Religiously Unaffiliated, or ‘Nones’ as the third largest ‘faith’ group in the world, 16% or 1.1 billion, approximately the same number as Catholics.  900 million of these unaffiliated reside in the Asia-Pacific region, where they make up an average 21.2% of the population. Europe is the next largest region then North America.  Latin America, Africa and the Middle East all lag behind, with 7.7%, 3.2%, and 0.6% of the populations identified as ‘Nones’.

A trending study by WIN-Gallup International in 2012 noted that religiosity is declining worldwide while atheism and non-belief are increasing.  Religiosity has fallen by 9 points just since 2005, while the number of atheists has almost doubled. The U.S., France, UK, Ireland, Canada as well as Vietnam are included in the top-10 list of countries to have experienced a "notable decline in religiosity" since 2005. 'Nones' tend to be younger than the overall population.

References: Pew Forum, Huffington Post, Time, LA Times, UK Census

2.  Islamic Religious Violence and Intimidation Explodes in Response to Offence

2012 was a year with multiple incidents where Islamist leaders reacted to criticism, mocking and attacks on their faith by fomenting and encouraging violence to express their displeasure. At the same time, Islamic nations cracked down on religious dissent in their own countries and again demanded that the UN adopt anti-blasphemy laws as a ‘human right’ (albeit the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has now abandoned this path - refer #9). Atheists were exceptionally vulnerable to these actions but the problem extends far beyond the atheist community, to the level of being an international menace that threatens not just free speech rights, but human lives and livelihoods.

Read more...

Atheist Census on Token Skeptic

AAI President Carlos A. Diaz talks to Kylie Sturgess on the Token Skeptic podcast about Atheist Census and the growth of atheism worldwide.