Atheist Refugee Assistance Program

Atheist Refugee Assistance Program

The Atheist Refugee Assistance Program (ARAP) supports atheist asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey.

Turkey shelters more refugees than any other place on the planet. A significant number of them are “political refugees” who had to flee their homelands because they have renounced Islam. Recent efforts by our “Atheist Support Network” and the “Secular Rescue Program” of the Center for Inquiry inspired Ateizm Dernegi, one of our affiliates, to take a more active role in assisting non-believing asylum seekers currently living in Turkey.

Ateizm Dernegi (AD) is a small NGO with around 300 members. They keep their doors open with the support of their founders and members and provide much-needed service to non-believer refugees in Turkey. ARAP is to assist non-Turkish, non-believer refugees who are running from persecution and in need of assistance to start a new life. Ateizm Dernegi started preparations for ARAP in 2019 and launched the program in August 2020.

The problem

Due to language barriers, most refugees and asylum seekers have problems finding a suitable home, roommate, or work. Being an openly-secular, non-religious person in today’s pro-Islamic Turkey makes finding a room, roommate, shared house, or work extremely difficult. Even if you find one, when your non-believing identity is discovered, the risk of losing your home/roommate/job is high. AD’s directors know this from first-hand experience.

Yet, there are also many Turkish non-believers who are willing to help atheist asylum seekers and refugees find accommodation and work. AD saw there was a need to build a network of such people to address this issue.

With the help of AAI, CFI and Ex-Muslims of North America, a fund was created to provide much-needed legal aid and assistance to atheist asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey. This fund pays the salaries of the two ARAP Case Managers. ARAP staff support the most common refugee needs, such as providing legal assistance and help to find suitable accommodation and a job. The case managers speak Arabic, Persian, Turkish and English.

Who can apply?

ARAP is aimed at helping refugees in Turkey, who have escaped religious persecution in their own countries, to build a new life. Only asylum seekers and refugees who had to leave their homes because of their non-belief, and clearly stated this issue in their immigration documents are eligible to benefit from this service.

What does ARAP not do?

Unfortunately, within the scope of this program, it is NOT POSSIBLE to provide any financial support.

What ARAP offers

The program provides assistance in the following ways:


Help to find a place to live or a roommate to stay with. Helping applicants to share their ads on local and online platforms, translating the necessary documents, and guiding the application process.

2. JOB

Help to find jobs. Translating the applicants’ curriculum vitae (resume) into Turkish. Preparing templates for applicants to apply for jobs and helping them arrange interviews.


Supporting atheist asylum seekers/refugees to secure legal aid. After investigating and confirming the authenticity of the applications, ARAP takes over the legal process and provides legal support through pro bono lawyers.

4. LETTERS etc.

Issuing letters of recommendation, and letters of verification to the Turkish immigration division or UNHCR on behalf of the asylum seekers/refugees. This may require additional verification from a trusted secondary source in the original country to verify the authenticity of the applicant’s request.


Assisting applicants in preparing documents regarding allowances, grants, and scholarship applications to national and international organizations, funds, institutions, associations, and secular/humanist/atheist charities.


During the first 24 months of the program, ARAP has:

  • Provided accommodation for 13 cases
  • Helped find a job for 9 cases
  • Provided legal aid for 25 cases
  • Provided support letters for 22 cases
  • Provided guidance to 20 cases

AAI is one of the major sponsors of the ARAP program. If you would like to help us support their great work, please make a donation:

Or become an AAI supporter: Five Great Reasons to Join AAI