Dear Alom Shaha,
Thank you for sending me your ‘The Young Atheist’s Handbook’. I haven’t started reading the book. But I’ve listened to your interview today. I understand what you have said.
I was thinking of Sam Harris’s recent article while listening to you. You probably have read the article. Sam Harris said TSA screeners at airports should not waste time screening old people, children, and others who do not look like Muslims and they should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim and they should be honest about it. Sam Harris’s Muslim-profile-program is more dangerous than the notorious Homeland Security program in the Bush era!
I never feel bad when I am asked to take my shoes, my belts, my jewelry, my scarves, my coats etc. off and to go through metal detectors repeatedly. I feel safe when I see people of all ages, of all colors, of all ethnicities, of all nationalities,of all genders, and of all beliefs get screened. I feel safe when I see a 2-year-old baby’s sandals and an 85-year-old wheelchair lady’s orthopedic footwear are removed for screening, for these are the things terrorists would think of using as shoe-bombs because these are the things people would not be suspicious about. It will scare the crap out of me if I see only ‘Muslims and Muslim-looking people’ are going through security screening and others are free to board a plane. If I see that Sam Harris without being properly screened is going to board the plane I am supposed to board, I would most likely decide to cancel my flight because I would be afraid of him. I would think that he accidentally carried a gun, and he would accidentally shoot people on the plane and I would accidentally die. I do not want to take any risk. Who knows, for he might get suddenly mentally sick and start thinking that all ‘Muslim looking people‘ are terrorists or they all are Osama Bin Laden and it is better to finish them off. I would not trust Muslim looking people, and I would also not trust Christian looking people, Jewish looking people, Hindu looking people, Jain looking people, Buddhist looking people, or any other religious looking people! How would I know about their plans!They may have some secret plans! Muslims have been terrorizing and killing people in many parts of the world. It is Muslims who become suicide bombers these days, but faith-heads of any religion can become suicide bombers. I would not trust even die hard atheists and die hard atheist looking people. They might think of blowing up the plane, because the plane is full of fucking believers! You never know.
We both look like South Asian. South Asian Hindus, Muslims, Christian, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs,Parsis, Jewish, Bahá’í, Brahmos, Animists as well as Atheists look more or less the same. How would Sam Harris identify Muslims? It will really be a tough job for him or anyone else. If we are identified as ‘Muslim looking people’, then we will have to spend more time going through rigid security checks than Sam Harris inasmuch as he does not look Muslim. But we are not any less godless than Sam Harris! The question of identification of Muslims is very much related to the color of skin.
It is true that fear, hatred, and hostility of some Western people toward Islam and Muslims helped to make Muslims all over the world more religious, more fundamentalists, and more terrorists. We who were born into Muslim families but became atheists and have been fighting Muslim fundamentalism for decades know very well how difficult this fight has become.
We know there is a conflict. But the conflict is not between the West and Islam. Or West and East, or Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism and Islam. The conflict is between secularism and fundamentalism, between rational logical minds and irrational blind faith, between innovation and tradition, between humanism and barbarism, between the future and the past, between the people who value freedom and the people who do not.
Atheists need more enlightenment to become humanists. I dream of a day when all atheists will be free from racism, misogyny,homophobia,megalomania and other silly things.