A rise in ‘nationalistic populism’ across the world represents a growing threat to the non-religious, as it ushers in a new era of ‘traditionalist and religious authoritarianism’. That is the conclusion of the 2016 Freedom of Thought Report, an annual report produced by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), which has just been published. Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan (AAAP) contributed to the report, which has moved to an entirely online format for the first time, and has expressed concern about the trend towards demagoguery seen in 2016.
For the first time each country’s profile is featured on its own webpage, making its findings more accessible than ever before. The report also features a foreword by Dr Ahmed Shaheed, the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, who writes that,
I therefore welcome the publication of the 2016 Report of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, documenting the situation of atheists, humanists and free-thinkers all over the world. From Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison in Saudi Arabia for alleged “blasphemy”; to Mohamed Cheikh Ould M’kheitir, who is facing the death penalty and incitement to murder in Mauritania for alleged “apostasy”; to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the mayor of Jakarta who is accused of “blasphemy” amidst an election; to those secular bloggers savagely hacked to death in Bangladesh by vigilante groups; to the scores languishing in prison in Pakistan and Iran and elsewhere for expressing views deemed offensive to religious sentiment; persecution and victimization in the name of religion are both chilling and widespread.
The IHEU report is an important reminder that the right to freedom from religion or belief is as fundamental as the right to freedom of religion, and that the same human right protects freedom of non-religious thought and non-religious belief as well; and that for some humanists, atheists, free-thinkers and the unconcerned the protection of this right can mean the difference between life and death.”
At the launch event on 6 December 2016, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) was hosted by the European Parliamentary Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the European Parliament in Brussels. Dennis de Jong MEP, chair of the Intergroup, welcomed the report saying “It is because of reports like this that we are able to do our jobs [as MEPs]” and “to be more vigilant”. Agreeing with the foreword by Dr Shaheed, he said that the Intergroup itslef “learned a lot from the Report” and would be raising the Report with the European Union’s External Action Service. Miltiadis Kyrkos MEP praised the IHEU’s work and the innovative methodology and development of the Report into its new online format.
On the panel, Atheist & Agnostic Alliance President Fauzia Ilyas highlight the situation of Atheists in Pakistan , said
People who have tried in the past to speak against the exploitation of Blasphemy law in Pakistan has been silenced. One such example is late Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. He spoke against blasphemy law and on filing a mercy petition for Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death by a court under the law. He was murdered by the hands of his own body guard. Even if you are a governor in Pakistan, you don’t have the liberty to even talk on this issue. This is a stark example of Islamo fascism.Remember, we live in the land of Taliban, from which the world is not even safe. We live in a country declared as the nursery of Jihadists.Pakistani Atheists are running for their lives. This is how Atheists spend their lives in Pakistan. Some of them flee from country, some of them are in prison,I want to let people realize that there must be freedom of speech & freedom of religion. we Atheist people have no issue with their religion, they can practice it in the way they want but peacefully .we ll never let them impose it in forceful way on atheists.
Read the report: http://freethoughtreport.com/
Read IHEU’s press release: http://iheu.org/new-online-edition-of-the-freedom-of-thought-report-launched-today/