On 22nd August, thousands participated in Apostasy Day. Overall, 83,000 people engaged in the day reaching 233,000 people.
Apostasy (ردة or ارتداد) is the abandonment or renunciation of religion. It is punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen and a criminal offence in many more Muslim-majority countries. In Pakistan, a disbelief in God is punishable with the death penalty under a blasphemy law. In Saudi Arabia, atheism is equated with terrorism. In some countries without the death penalty, Islamists kill those deemed apostates, including in Bangladesh and Muslim-minority India. In many countries, such as in Europe and North America, apostates can face threats, shunning and honour-based violence, including from their families. Individuals from Orthodox Jewish, Christian, Hindu and other backgrounds can also face shunning and violence for apostasy.
22 August is being chosen as Apostasy Day because it is the UN Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. Moreover, late August marks the start of a second wave of mass executions of apostates in Iran in 1988 after brief “trials”. Thousands who responded negatively to questions such as ‘Are you a Muslim?’, ‘Do you believe in Allah?’, ‘Is the Holy Qur’an the Word of Allah?’, ‘Do you accept the Holy Muhammad to be the Seal of the Prophets?’, ‘Do you fast during Ramadan?’, ‘Do you pray and read the Holy Qur’an?’ were summarily executed.
The newly established Apostasy Day, renew calls for the:
- commemoration of the victims of apostasy laws
- an end to the criminalisation and the death penalty for apostasy in countries under Islamic laws
- an end to shunning, threats and honour-related violence from families of apostates
- affirmation of freedom of thought, conscience and belief as well as opinion and expression in compliance with the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 18 & 19).