“The protection of those who fled without faith must also be better ensured in Germany. Because they’re not safe here either from access by family or religious fanatics.” During the discussion at the Humanist Day 2018 in Nuremberg, Stefan Paintner (Atheist Refugee Relief) addressed the special situation of religious-free refugees. The public and politicians are not yet sufficiently aware of the problem – all panel participants agreed on this.
On the topic “Godless and persecuted – reason for atheism”, the Bengali blogger Arnab Goswami, the Iraqi blogger and activist Amed Sherwan and Michael Bauer from HVD Bayern sat on the podium alongside Stefan Paintner.
The two bloggers drew attention to the situation of atheists in Muslim countries. They reported on their own very traumatic experiences, which went as far as torture.
On May 2, Sherif Gaber, a well-known Egyptian blogger, posted the above text. It states that he was in a police station and if nothing more was heard from him in an hour, he was arrested.
Under pressure from the Islamist Al-Nour Party, Egypt has for some time now been increasingly taking action against free thinkers who are critical of Islam. The Al-Nour party has a very fundamentalist attitude towards Islam and received more than a quarter of the votes cast in a radical Islamist alliance in the 2011 parliamentary elections.
Egypt has been home to atheist activists for quite some time, who have also had their say in the official media. But in recent years they have been increasingly persecuted.
Secular activist Sherif Gaber, who is campaigning for a humanist society in Egypt, has been charged with blasphemy by the conservative-religious Al-Nour party. He could face up to 15 years in prison. He had already been sentenced once to one year of forced labour for fighting for LGBT rights.
Brave people have founded the Council of Ex-Muslims Jordan. It should give a home to all who see themselves as humanists and free thinkers in the Islamic country where criticism of Islam is severely punished. Those who are turned away from religion and are committed to philosophy, science and critical thinking can network here, seek help and inform themselves about various topics.
The establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims Jordan is a sign of the strong increase in critical religious thinking in the Islamic world, which can be observed across all countries.
After the Secular Refugee Relief has been presented to the public at the celebration of “10 Years of Ex-Muslims” on 17 November 2017, numerous requests for help but also many offers of help have reached us.
Since then, the number of tasks and potential has grown enormously.
Asad Noor (25), a well-known blogger from Bangladesh, could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years, as he had criticised Islam on the Internet. He was arrested at Dhaka airport in late December.
In Bangladesh, the situation is very dangerous for atheists or critics of Islam. Dozens of bloggers and activists have already been killed there by Islamic fundamentalists.
With the rise of atheism in Islamic countries, more and more countries are taking tougher action against free critical thinking. After the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has already equated atheists with terrorists, Egypt is now following suit. These reactions can be seen as an indication that the beneficiaries of a reform incapable theocracy see themselves as seriously endangered by the enlightenment and critical thinking.
The two sisters Ashwaq Hamoud, 30, and Areej Hamoud, 28, fled Saudi Arabia because they were subjected to massive abuse by their families. They are now to be forcibly repatriated. In Saudi Arabia, in addition to honour killings or serious abuse by the family, they may also be facing legal threats, as they could serve a prison sentence for not being obedient to their parents.
The Atheist Refugee Relief provides care for some cases of women who have fled Saudi Arabia. From our experience, there can be no repatriation to your home country Saudi Arabia.
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!