Afghan atheist granted UK asylum

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An Afghan man is believed to have become the first atheist to be granted asylum in the UK on the basis of his views on religion.

The 23-year-old, who has not been identified, feared that if forcibly returned to his homeland he would face persecution for having renounced his faith.

The Home Office's decision to accept denial of the existence of God as grounds for protection could set a significant precedent in asylum and immigration cases. The application was granted before the hearing stage at an immigration tribunal.

The Afghan was brought up as a Muslim and fled the conflict in his native country. He arrived in the UK in 2007, aged 16. He was initially given temporary leave to remain until 2013 but during his time in England gradually turned to atheism.

His case was taken up by Kent Law Clinic, a free service provided by students and supervised by qualified practising lawyers from the University of Kent's law school along with local solicitors and barristers.

They helped him submit his claim to the Home Office under the UN's 1951 refugee convention, arguing that if he returned to Afghanistan he would face persecution on the grounds of religion – or in his case, lack of religious belief.

Written By: Owen Bowcott
continue to source article at theguardian.com

29 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by aquilacane:

      Will there be a flood of atheists? Will there be atheist communities as there are communities of other refugee types?

      Will there be a flood of people who have the insight, intellgence & personal courage to see through the theological mess of his home country and say ‘this isn’t for me’?

      We can only hope so.

  1. Interesting that Australia and now, apparently, the UK recognise atheism as grounds for granting asylum to Afghan refugees, but not the US, because “atheists do not have defined beliefs or practices for purposes of American asylum regulations.” All three countries, and especially the US, helped to make Afghanistan the war-ridden mess it is today, and helped make it possible for atheists to flee the country. Apostasy is punishable by death in Sharia law and the US government must take some responsibility for the refugees from the country it invaded by force, and which is certain to return to Muslim fundamentalism when it leaves.

    • In reply to #5 by Macropus:

      Interesting that Australia and now, apparently, the UK recognise atheism as grounds for granting asylum to Afghan refugees, but not the US, because “atheists do not have defined beliefs or practices for purposes of American asylum regulations.” All three countries, and especially the US, helped to…

      Over the years I have grown such a visceral loathing of the fatuity and ignorance of today’s Left. If there is any country to blame for Afghanistan’s inability to stabilize after the US led coalition removed the Taliban it is Pakistan. The reason the Taliban still exist today is because they have been armed and trained by Pakistan as well as given safe haven in FATA. For those of you who are unaware, since their inception as a political entity the Taliban have basically been a proxy of the Pakistani ISI in their effort to hold and maintain a strategic depth against India.

      I really wish all you frivolous anti-imperialists would pull your heads out of your respective asses and realize it is no longer the late 60′s. Then maybe you will have some relevance when discussing the state of the world today.

      And cheers to the UK for doing the right thing by this young man.

    • In reply to #6 by Net:

      it’s good that this has happened but i’m just wondering about other aspects of the culture from which he comes: e.g. misogyny, homophobia …

      …and all the other trappings of the religion he’s trying to escape.?
      Those ideas are imposed by religion, if he can see through religion it’s a fair bet that he’ll see through the nasty ideas it spawns.
      What is actually giving you cause to wonder here?

      • In reply to #8 by TheGap:

        In reply to #6 by Net:

        it’s good that this has happened but i’m just wondering about other aspects of the culture from which he comes: e.g. misogyny, homophobia …

        …and all the other trappings of the religion he’s trying to escape.?
        Those ideas are imposed by religion, if he can see through re…

        well, no. there are many home-grown atheists who are misogynistic and homophobic. it doesn’t follow that renouncing one’s religion generalises to more tolerant views or acceptance of gender and sexuality equality. e.g. it is surprising how many liberated gays are misogynist.

        • In reply to #6 by Net:

          it’s good that this has happened but i’m just wondering about other aspects of the culture from which he comes: e.g. misogyny, homophobia …

          …and all the other trappings of the religion he’s trying to escape.?
          Those ideas are imposed by religio…

          ‘many’ homegrown atheists homophobic & mysogonistic? I look forward to the source on that one.
          & of course it ‘dosn’t follow’ that because someone spurns a religion they also spurn the negative ideas from it that have permeated society for millenia, but it’s a fair bet they have a reasoning mind & are equally as capabale of ditching the trashideas as wel as the trash religion.

    • In reply to #6 by Net:

      it’s good that this has happened but i’m just wondering about other aspects of the culture from which he comes: e.g. misogyny, homophobia …

      Britain will also accept gay refugees who fear persecution as a result of their sexuality.

      I tend, marginally, towards the view that Britain has too many immigrants, often here for the wrong reasons, but one of the right reasons to let people in is fear of persecution or death (and our minimal legal obligation under the 1951 UN Treaty on Refugees). And if Britain scoops the pool of the world’s rationalists, bring it on!

      • In reply to #11 by Stevehill:

        In reply to #6 by Net:

        it’s good that this has happened but i’m just wondering about other aspects of the culture from which he comes: e.g. misogyny, homophobia …

        Britain will also accept gay refugees who fear persecution as a result of their sexuality.

        I tend, marginally, towards the view tha…

        that wasn’t my question. sorry. my question was whether, even though the fellow is an atheist, he has or still has other aspects of his culture such as homophobia and misogyny. i guess embedded in my question is whether asylum only on the grounds of religion is enough.

    • In reply to #6 by Net:

      it’s good that this has happened but i’m just wondering about other aspects of the culture from which he comes: e.g. misogyny, homophobia …

      Well, being that 99% of the time, religious reasons are given to justify misogyny, homophobia…, there’s a real good chance that someone intentionally identifying as an atheist would be up to snuff on human/animal/environmental rights.

      • In reply to #16 by KRKBAB:

        In reply to #6 by Net:

        it’s good that this has happened but i’m just wondering about other aspects of the culture from which he comes: e.g. misogyny, homophobia …

        Well, being that 99% of the time, religious reasons are given to justify misogyny, homophobia…, there’s a real good chance that so…

        a good chance? you think?

  2. @OP – His case was taken up by Kent Law Clinic, a free service provided by students and supervised by qualified practising lawyers from the University of Kent’s law school along with local solicitors and barristers.

    These “law clinics”, are set up by University Law Schools as a free public service and as a hands-on training exercise for their students.
    My daughter worked as a volunteer at one when she was a law student. They look at real cases, consult with their fully qualified university law lecturers, and offer advice or pursue cases with the help of local qualified professionals.

  3. … and it’s a shame parents cannot be prosecuted for bringing him up as a Muslim, thereby forcing him into a sect which practices death for apostasy when he grows up to make his own choices.

    We protect kids from bad language up to the age of 12, mild nudity and violence up to 15, full on sex and violence until 18. Religion should be at least rated 16 and possibly the more violent ones as 18+ with absolutely no PG option.

  4. This sets a good precedent and one I hope can go further – If granting Asylum to this man because it is recognised that the enforcement of Sharia Law in Afghanistan would warrant his death and is incompatible with Western values, can it further be recognised that Sharia Law is in fact brutal, barbaric, incompatible with British Law and values and have the plug pulled on it in terms of support, charity and tax free status?

  5. I am still very concerned with the language being used by atheists and even within the Richard Dawkins foundation when it comes to the non belief in a deity.

    As within this post which mentions that in 2013 he gradually turned to atheism as if he had converted to another religious stance. You don’t turn to Atheism you are born an atheist in other words you are naturally rational and non indoctrinated.

    So it is very dangerous for us to fall into the trap of setting up yet another collective of individuals who in some way belong to a defined type or group who can then be classified due to their understanding for the world around them.

    I would much rather see this as a story of a man who was granted asylum due to his non acceptance of religious teaching or understanding and the state being congratulated for their rational approach in allowing him to stay as it is a rational position that needs no further elaboration, other than to say he is no longer indoctrinated in false beliefs therefore as return to a state of human consciousness that does require a god figure.

    We risk a lot when we set up and post for the religious to pin us too (or dare I say nail us too).. there is no Atheist belief system and no need to have an atheist community we just want those who do believe in this religious nonsense to remove said nonsense from civil society.

    • In reply to #25 by dartanian22:

      As within this post which mentions that in 2013 he gradually turned to atheism as if he had converted to another religious stance.

      It is perfectly possible for a person to increasing reject indoctrination and dogma and so gradually divest themselves of a religion.

      You don’t turn to Atheism you are born an atheist

      We are born atheists, but many unfortunately, are then indoctrinated while vulnerable as trusting children.

      in other words you are naturally rational and non indoctrinated.

      No body is “naturally rational”. Reasoning is a skill which has to be learned – sometimes from good role models who may not be seen by some children in some families or some cultures.

      So it is very dangerous for us to fall into the trap of setting up yet another collective of individuals who in some way belong to a defined type or group

      Atheism is only a “group” in so far as individuals are free of gods. There is no collective “atheist philosophy, dogma, or politics”.

      who can then be classified due to their understanding for the world around them.

      Atheism does not imply any particular understanding of the world. It simply implies a lack of god-explanations in whatever philosophy is held by the individual.

      We risk a lot when we set up and post for the religious to pin us too (or dare I say nail us too).. there is no Atheist belief system and no need to have an atheist community, we just want those who do believe in this religious nonsense to remove said nonsense from civil society.

      I agree, but in the world or politics and law, collective action on communal interests, is often needed in order to gain objectives, where isolated individuals would fail.

    • In reply to #26 by brettcalgary:

      And so….. What happens if he is found in a mosque praying a week from tomorrow??

      The Mail would have a field day:

      Asylum? No, this is Bedlam: This week it was revealed an Afghan atheist won the right to stay in Britain on religious grounds!

      This week it emerged that a young Afghan has won his fight to stay in Britain on religious grounds, despite the fact that he’s a self-professed atheist!

      He argued that apostasy — or abandoning the Islamic faith — is punishable with the death penalty under Afghan law. Sadly, he is almost certainly correct.

  6. How do you determine if someone is an atheist other than their say so?… I’m not questioning this guys case or anything and for sure if sent back to afganistan you can be pretty sure anyone thinking he was atheistic wouldn’t bother with a structured court case before flinging stones at him… But precisly how does one demonstrate no belief in a God yet remaining knowledge of that religion?

    I mean I wouldn’t be able to ‘prove’ I’m athesitic other than agreeing to state otherwise blasphemous mantras and whatnot..Would this refugee status of atheist be removed if he’s subsequently photographed leaving a mosque on friday?

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