The seven countries where the state can execute you for being atheist

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The annual “freedom of thought” report from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an advocacy umbrella group that represents and seeks to protect non-religious people, details laws and practices around the world that punish or restrict atheism. The group presented the report to the United Nations today.


The report tracks, among other things, which countries have laws explicitly targeting atheists. There are not many, but the states that forbid non-religiousness – typically as part of “anti-blasphemy” legislation – include seven nations where atheism is punishable by death. All seven establish Islam as the state religion. Though that list includes some dictatorships, the country that appears to most frequently condemn atheists to death for their beliefs is actually a democracy, if a frail one: Pakistan. Others include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, the West African state of Mauritania, and the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. These countries are colored red on the above map. 

Earlier this year, a 23-year-old Saudi man named Hamza Kashgari tweeted in commemoration of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday that, while he found the Islamic holy man inspirational, he did not believe in his divinity. When Kashgari was accused of blasphemy, he attempted to flee the country for his life, it turns out rightly. He was arrested while changing flights in Malaysia, deported back to Saudi Arabia, and is now awaiting charges that could include his execution for blasphemy and atheism.

Written By: Max Fisher
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

26 COMMENTS

  1. What else can we expect from people who believe God is Great, but not God is Love?  Persecution, hatred and vengeance Islam does extremely well, even towards their (near) brothers-in-faith, such as the 200 Shia ‘heretics’ in Indonesia recently. What hope is there for Hamza Kashgaris of the Muslim world?
    It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the UN does with the submitted report.

  2. Please reconsider- there are other options, Australia being far better. I considered Saudi with BAe decades ago but at the post-interview ‘familiarisation’ process was disgusted by what I heard. For instance if you’re involved in an accident in which a Saudi national is injured or killed you are subject to charges up to murder regardless of who’s at fault. We were told to always carry a passport and in such an event leave the scene and go to the embassy for immediate expatriation. 
    This quite apart from moral issues like beheadings for witchcraft, etc. Of course if you can ignore all this so be it. 

  3. ‘…while he found the Islamic holy man inspirational, he did not believe in his divinity.’
    I thought NO ‘orthodox’ Muslims were supposed to think Muhammad was divine. Has he just recently been subsumed into the godhead or something? 

  4. An acquaintance of mine used to teach first aid in a gulf state and told me that under a strict interpretation of Sharia law (is there any other kind?), if you as a first aider arrive at the scene of a road accident and attempt first aid on one of the victims, if that person later dies of their injuries, the first aider is held responsible for the death.

    Presumably for trying to oppose god’s will for deciding that person would die in a road accident.

    Honestly I cannot understand why anyone would worship a being capable of such cruelty.

    The main article doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, religious fanatics* rightly recognise atheism as a greater threat to them than other religions.   The only reason Christian fanatics don’t try to have atheists subjected to judicial murder is because of legal separation of church and state, and the recognition by most people in their countries that they are fanatics.

    [my definition of a religious fanatic: a person who, without any affirmative evidence, and ignoring all negative evidence, believes in a god]

  5. One never hears anything from leftists like the SWP(who we are told are atheists) condemning the murderous morons of Islamism.
    It would appear that sometimes the smell of shit is not as offensive as one’s personal fart.

  6. I went once to Saudi Arabia (for work, not one of those places you chill at) and felt rather proud that my visa application was granted in spite of my filling in ATHEIST in the field for religion. I was a bit more concerned at the airport, because the immigration form also asks for religion. Once again, went through with flying colors.

    However, once you’re in the kingdom you simply DO NOT talk about your atheism (or christianity for that matter). The overarching assumption is that Islam is perfection and everybody else is just dumb. Very humble indeed.

  7. Does anyone know how to start a petition on change.org? it may help Hamza Kashgari if tens of thousands of people protest against his incarceration. I’m at my office computer at the moment which has limited access to certain sites (company policy!) but will have ago myself when I get home!

  8. Haven’t those those laws been ruled unconstitutional? Meaning they are not enforceable any more and are just still ‘on the books’ without any effect on the atheist population.

  9. I’ve visited a few of these benighted places and came away wondering why I’d bothered; their benightedness being rendered by dictators and religion, a double bind if ever there was one. 

    Although, whilst stranded in an hotel in the Haute Atlas mountains during freak snow storms, I and two friends, being the only guests, were invited to the house of the Chef for dinner in celebration of the Prophet.

    One of my fellow travellers was a six foot tall blonde Latvian Dental Engineer, who sat smoking a liquorice paper roll-up as the men went out to collect the food from the kitchen, whence came the clatter of pots pans and utensils. We never set eyes on any of the momen who were preparing the food of course.

    There was a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, but the incongruity of Astrid towering over the men whilst smoking her fag was fun.

    I revisited Morocco years later with my wife; god knows why!

  10. I have a strict policy of never travelling to a place where I am hated for being american.  This extends to never travelling to a place where I am hated for what I believe (or do not believe).  These personal policies doom me to vacationing in a quite narrow corridor of places. 
    Oh, and forget living in a hate filled shit hole; there is enough hate in the world without soliciting it.

  11. That’s the advantage of Internet blogs. You can still end up in a place where you can be hated for what you believe, but without the inconvenience and expense of actually travelling to get there.

  12. There needs to be a 4th category that would include countries like Malaysia. That’s where the suspected Saudi atheist was nabbed at the airport, presumably by the Malaysian religious enforcement police, when changing flights. And then extradited to Saudi Arabia for a fair trial followed by execution.

    It would be foolish to assume that Malaysia is otherwise a sensible or safe place to visit. Anyone could end up there or in Indonesia by accident. Including via a ‘direct’ flight, but where there is an unexpected aircraft or crew change at an intermediate point. Aviation safety practices might include anyone unexpectedly landing in a Malaysian airport in the event of a minor aircraft malfunction, union activity, or unusual weather / volcanic activity etc. The risk to the aircraft and all passengers outweighing the more direct risk to any individual passenger.

    Transit passengers might therefore be at risk of torture and execution through being rendered under various secret treaties to places like Saudi Arabia or the USA.

  13. nonexistentpuppies,

    Excellent point. Mo himself always insisted that he was a mere mortal. Muslims often make a point of criticising Christians for claiming that Christ was divine. They believe that neither Christ nor Mohammed ever claimed divine status.

      If Muslims believe that Mo was mortal, how then can Kashgari be blamed for the same belief?

      Unless the blasphemy charge is based upon the belief that Mo is in a divine state in the afterlife. That would seem likely.

       In which case his defence should focus on the lifetime of the prophet as being referred to in his tweet. That would surely be orthodox enough to satisfy the holy fools and fanatics.

  14. and there are unethical, full of delusions with lack of common sense, corrupted and existing, somehow in 21st century, barbaric countries. nice colours but all of the countries are already on my ‘holiday no go zone’ list anyway :) prefer grey in this case

  15. If you believe that man was created from mud then you will get mud people and mud ethics. Actually, this has prob been said already, there are about 14 states in the US where atheists cannot stand for public office; these should be painted in light yellow in the map.

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