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Non-religious people are being targeted by “hate campaigns” in countries around the world, as a distinct minority group, the latest edition of the Freedom of Thought Report has found.

The report  claims that the “hate speech” against atheists does not come exclusively from reactionary or radical religious leaders, but increasingly from political leaders, including heads of state.

fot14-report-bookletPublished today (10 December) by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), the Freedom of Thought Report states: “In 2014, in addition to laws such as those targeting “apostasy” and “blasphemy”, we have seen a marked increase in specific targeting of “atheists” and “humanism” as such, using these terms in a broadly correct way (the users know what they are saying) but with intent clearly borne of ignorance or intolerance toward these groups.”

Cases covered in the report include the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who this year labelled “humanism and secularism as well as liberalism” as “deviant” and a threat to Islam and the state itself, in a speech where he also denied that Malaysians had any right to “apostasy” (leaving Islam).

Saudi Arabia comes into criticism for a new law equating “atheism” with “terrorism”. The very first article of the kingdom’s new terror regulations banned: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion”.

Even the supposedly secular regime of Egypt’s President Sisi was found to target atheists directly, through what the report calls “an organized backlash against young atheists”. Beginning in June, Nuamat Sati of the Ministry of Youth announced a campaign to spread awareness of “the dangers of atheism” and why it is “a threat to society”, so that young atheists in particular, who are increasingly vocal on social media would be given “a chance to reconsider their decisions and go back to their religion.”

In the past few months, Egyptian authorities have detained young atheists who appeared on TV media and Youtube videos talking about their right to express atheist views, and in a worrying and unusual development in November, Christian churches actually “joined forces” with Egypt’s Al-Azhar in another anti-atheism campaign, saying that “Society should resist this phenomenon [of atheism]”.

The Freedom of Thought Report annually surveys and rates every country in the world for anti-atheist persecution. Almost all countries discriminate against the non-religious, in some cases through religious privilege or legal exemptions, with the worst countries taking children from atheist parents, or with laws mandating death sentences for “apostates” (in 13 Islamic states).

The 2014 edition of the report notes: “This year will be marked by a surge in this phenomenon of state officials and political leaders agitating specifically against non-religious people, just because they have no religious beliefs, in terms that would normally be associated with hate speech or social persecution against ethnic or religious minorities.”

You can download the report in PDF form for free via the dedicated website.

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2 Responses to “Atheists, humanists and liberals” now targeted as a distinct minority by “hate campaigns” — report

  1. Luis E says:

    Its my first time to know about humanist institutions around the world, which is great to have an alternative to other than religious groups.
    Dont understand how could be that some state leaders or political leaders be in a position where they don’t respect
    other ideas or believes, these kind of people should not be in power, we live in a very diverse world and that’s a fact

  2. Scott Wilson says:

    It is time to up our game and get more atheists on the Humanist bandwagon. This movement needs to look to the future because the promotion of rational thought is too important a battle. I would argue we have won the minds and debunkers on line are putting up a valiant front on line. Demographics are on our side. Could PEN help with prisoners of non-deist affiliation?
    We do need a second wave filled with mirth and whimsy, we need artists and designers and bunting and parades. We need a festival season – I’d suggest the solstices and equinoxes and start replacing heaven with astronomical awe. You’d also get more earthy seasonal harmonies that bring people in touch with life’s rhythms and reasons to get together. There is the lovely irony of stealing one of religion’s tricks because every santa clause parade could have an atheist/humanist float – we could approach the radical fairies; I can just imagine the sequins glittering on the float now.
    Just a thought.

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