August 22, 2023 is the United Nations’ “International Day Commemorating Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”. UN Resolution A/RES/73/296 “strongly condemns continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, on the basis of or in the name of religion or belief…”
In line with this, Atheist Alliance International (AAI) would like to bring greater attention to some of the recent blasphemy cases occurring in the world:
Egypt: Abdulrahman Jamal, a 23 year old atheist activist, was sentenced to five years in prison. In addition, Abd el Rahman is currently serving his sentence in Gamasa maximum security prison. This prison appears several times in a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It is listed as one of ten Egyptian prisons where abuse and cruel treatment occurred. It also documented cases where prisoners were held in solitary confinement.
Nigeria: Mubarak Bala received a sentence of 24 years for a comment he made on Facebook that some Muslims found offensive. Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a 22-year-old singer, at first received a death sentence for a song that denigrated Muhammad; it was later commuted to 22 years in prison.
Algeria: Said Djabelkheir, a well-known expert in Islamic law, was sentenced to three years in prison for offending Islam in posts he made on Facebook. Though the courts later threw out the sentence, the risk to his life is still very high.
Palestine: Aboomr Frwana was severely tortured by state parties and jailed several times for atheism, from 2018-2022.
Bangladesh: At least 10 individuals (Asaduzzaman Noor, Likot Hossain Limon, Sagar Borua, Farhad Hossain, Joydeb Chandra Shil, Ekramul Haque, Jibon Ali, Mithun Dey, Mahabub Alam, and Hasan Mehedi) have been charged under this country’s de facto blasphemy law S57 of the ICT Act 2006, as well as the country’s new version of the blasphemy law, the Digital Security Act 2018. They are sometimes held in prison for up to two years without a trial.
Blasphemy laws not only sanction government abuse and violence, they are also used to justify individual assaults on religious nonconformists. For example, in 2015, five secular bloggers were killed in Bangladesh.
Every religion had a beginning and, as such, was often a persecuted minority. But just as they had a right not to be persecuted when they were small, they do not gain a right to persecute others now that they may have achieved a majority in a country.
Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1991. AAI is a global federation of atheist groups and individuals committed to educating its members and the public about atheism, secularism and related issues and supporting atheists around the world who are excluded, disparaged, discriminated against and criminalized. AAI was granted UN Special Consultative status in 2013.
Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is a positive voice for atheism and secularism. Our goals are to:
Facilitate and support project/events that demystify and normalize atheism, promote critical thinking and counter religious dogma in government and public policy.
Combat discrimination and injustice against atheists around the world.
Support the establishment of new atheist organizations, especially in places where atheists are at risk, victimized and discriminated against.
Strengthen global cooperation between atheists.