Hamesd Rastkerdar from Iran, who has been living in Germany since 2015, unfortunately received a negative decision for his asylum application in August 2017. Since he had a muslim translator in the interview, the essential point that he is an atheist was not recorded in the protocol. Mr. Rastkerdar was active in Iran in a student group that had asked critical questions about Islam and distributed leaflets. When the first of his friends was arrested, Mr. Rastkerdar fled to Germany, because in Iran the death penalty can be imposed on apostasy. In Germany he was also very active in the Council of Ex-Muslims.
If he were deported, it would be probable that he would be executed in Iran because of his open commitment to atheism. This is why the Atheist Refugee Relief is committed to ensuring that he is recognised as an asylum seeker in Germany!
Anas Zakiri, an young man from the LGBT community who fled Marocco, is stuck in Turkey and needs support. He is an atheist and is looking for a way to live a free life. He’s in financial trouble right now. If you would like to support him, please follow this link:
The Atheist Refugee Relief was presented to the public as part of the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims on November 17th, 2017 at the Maritim Hotel in Cologne. Michael Schmidt-Salomon interviewed Rana Ahmad, Mina Ahadi and Stefan Paintner about the beginnings and goals and tasks of the newly founded organization.
Unfortunately, religion is a reason for many people to leave their homeland and apply for asylum in Germany. When it comes to religious persecution, most people think of religious minorities threatened by the majority in their countries. In the current refugee crisis, these are mainly Jesids and Christians fleeing from predominantly Islamic countries. But one group is often completely ignored in the media: the atheists. In many religions (e. g. in Islam) apostasy is considered a punishable offence. And even those who do not belong to any religious community from birth are unfortunately all too often persecuted as “infidels”.
Open apostasy is only the tip of the iceberg. In strictly religious societies, self-determination rights are curtailed in many ways. Thus, religious-critical expressions can lead to social ostracism, even if they do not contain any commitment to atheism.
Drastic invasions of privacy are commonplace in many Islamic countries. Although Western criticism of archaic practices such as forced marriage and forced circumcision is often fought off in a culturally relativistic manner with reference to the supposed “equivalence of all cultures”, it is regularly overlooked that there is massive resistance within the various societies to religious virtue terrorism.
Atheistic refugees are a particular group of people looking for shelter. Most of them are very active, politically thinking people who oppose the dogmatic ideology of the dominant religion of their home countries. Since there are supporters of fundamental interpretations of religions worldwide, they are never really safe from persecution – even here, in Germany.
We offer these refugees appropriate care, as many people who have also fled from the religious constraints of their home countries work with us.