Religion

Atheists Claim to Face Discrimination Around the World

| by Michael Allen
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The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) recently told the United Nations that atheists experience discrimination around the world. In some parts of the world, their humanist views are criminalized and subject to capital punishment.

"Extensive discrimination by governments against atheists, humanists and the non-religious occurs worldwide," stated the IHEU, which has 120 branches in 45 countries.

According to Reuters, the IHEU said that "atheists can face the death penalty on the grounds of their belief" in Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Other countries "effectively criminalize atheism [and] the expression and manifestation of atheist beliefs," said the IHEU in a document that was submitted to the U.N. rights council.

In addition to atheists being persecuted, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the U.N. on Monday there was a "rising trend" of Islamophobia: "We condemn all sorts of incitement to hatred and religious discrimination against Muslims and people of other faiths."

In November of 2012, the Arab League told the U.N. Security Council that they wanted a binding international agreement to ensure "that religious faith and its symbols are respected."

However, the IHEU claimed that many Muslim governments use this terminology and the concept of "religious blasphemy" to "prosecute people who express their religious doubt or dissent, regardless of whether those dissenters identify as atheist."

Bangladesh, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey have increased prosecution of "blasphemous" expression of religion on Facebook and Twitter, according to the IHEU.

Source: Reuters