The only hatred is towards Alex Aan himself

Here is Rafiq Mahmood’s letter to the editor in response to a 3 May piece in the Guardian on Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan:

I read Kate Hodal’s piece on Alexander Aan (Indonesia’s atheists face battle for religious freedom – 3 May) with great interest having recently visited Alex with his legal team.

I was more than a little annoyed at the impression given by Ms Hodal in describing the members of the Legal Assistance Foundation in Padang as “a ragtag team of young smokers in T-shirts and sandals”. The Indonesian Legal Assistance Foundation (Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia) is a charitable organisation set up to defend the legal rights of poor people. They are dedicated and professional lawyers who work extremely hard under the most difficult of circumstances. The Padang branch are open 24 hours and are on call to help people anywhere in the entire province of West Sumatra. Very sadly, as Ms Hodal should know, smoking is widespread and endemic in Indonesia being promoted by massive uncontrolled advertising. It is not unusual for people to work in T-shirts and sandals in offices which are not air-conditioned in a tropical country and casual dress is also a policy in LBH offices so as to put their clients at ease.

Perhaps it did not come across in the article how weak legally the case against Alexander Aan is. There are three counts on the indictment, all relating to an alleged posting on the facebook page Ateis Minang (Minang – West Sumatran – Atheists) of a link to a graphic novel style website covering an incident in the life of Muhammad where he allegedly had sex with his wife’s maid. The website story itself claims to be based on accepted Hadith. [Read more…]

Books on atheism and Islam

I just received a request for a list of books on atheism and also atheism and Islam. Can anyone help with putting together a list, which I can send on? Thanks for any help on this. Here’s the email:


I am interested in getting a thorough education about atheistic and agnostic thought. My interest is an academic one, as I am studying religion at the post-secondary level, and would like to widen my horizons as much as possible.

As I have no real place to begin, I would be thankful if you could send me a thorough list of primary and standard books, which shed light on the short history of atheistic thought, atheistic arguments in support of and other reasons for disbelief, arguments against different faiths, and anything else you deem would be useful in my inquiry.

My background is in Islamic theology, so if you have anything specifically relating to atheism and Islam, I would be thankful if you included that as well. I am also open to arguments against other faith-based ideologies as well.

I hope we can remain in touch. Thank you for your time.

We are not an atheist community

Rebecca Watson has recently blogged about the outrageous abuse and misogyny directed at a 15 year old atheist on Reddit saying it makes her hate atheists.

But this shouldn’t surprise any of us. After all just because someone’s an atheist doesn’t necessarily mean they are pro-equality, anti-war, socialist, secularist, and so on.

I mean how many times have we been betrayed by the Left, feminists, progressives, humanists or atheists siding with Islamists, sharia law, the veil – you name it – for a variety of reasons (some of which even seem rational and moral on the surface).

Just because someone’s a woman doesn’t mean she will side with welfare mothers and oppose stoning. And just because someone’s an ex-Muslim doesn’t mean they are automatically secularists or rationalists. In the same way that being male or having religious beliefs doesn’t automatically mean that one is anti-woman.

I’ve spent a large part of my life opposing this sort of ‘community’ based on race or nationality or gender or belief, which is largely thanks to multi-culturalism and moral or cultural relativism. What it has done is box people into ‘communities’ often out of no choice of their own and at the individual’s expense. It holds the dominant culture as the community’s culture and norm. And it exerts unbelievable pressure on those like Rebecca Watson who dissent and refuse to conform. [Read more…]

Atheist or rapist?

A study published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that religious believers distrust atheists more than any other religious groups, gays and feminists (and you know how much they hate them). The only other group they distrust as much are rapists!!?

Atheists on the other hand were indifferent to people’s religious beliefs and did not have the same antagonism towards believers. Rather than saying anything about atheists, the study says loads about the religious and their bigotry. But then that’s nothing new…

(Via Ian Simpson on Facebook)

I have chosen to speak up

Here are some testimonies from atheist ex-Muslims:

I left Islam at 16. I am at university now, but I am still “in the closet” about my atheism, worried about the reaction it would get from religious family members and friends. I still have to pretend to pray and wear the hijab. This has been frustrating, especially since I live in a mainly Muslim area of London. But through websites like this, knowing that there are people who have had similar experiences has been a great source of comfort. (SJ, London) [Read more…]

When the Hezbollah Came to my School: Why I Became an Atheist

For those of you who don’t know much about my background and why I became an atheist, my piece in 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why we are Atheists may be an interesting read. It’s the first time I have published it on my blog below:

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped being a Muslim. Looking back, it seems to have been a gradual process and a direct result of my personal experiences, though I would like to think (or hope) that I would have eventually become an atheist.

Having been raised in a fairly open-minded family, I had no real encounter with religion that mattered until the Islamic movement took power on the back of a defeated revolution in Iran. I was 12 at the time. [Read more…]