I thank Andrew Copson, the chief executive of the British Humanist Association, for writing an article about persecution of atheists on Humans Rights Day. What he says is so true! The world is silent while atheists are persecuted.
The plight of the non-religious is not new – the Bangladeshi humanist Taslima Nasrin has lived in exile for nearly twenty years – but the availability of free expression through social media in particular is triggering greater persecution than before. Between 2007 and 2011, IHEU saw only three major social media ‘blasphemy’ prosecutions. In 2012 the report documents more than a dozen cases of people in ten different countries charged for ‘blasphemous’ statements made on social media. People like Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old poet and columnist from Saudi Arabia, denounced as an apostate and now held in a Saudi jail; or Alber Saber, due to be sentenced in Egypt this week, accused of uploading the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ YouTube video, and arrested by the police which his mother called to disperse a mob that was threatening him; or Alexander Aan in Indonesia, sentenced to more than two years for “spreading… religious hatred and animosity” by running an atheist Facebook page.