Friday, December 21, 2018

Atheist Refugees

They do not believe in God and want a life free from religious restrictions: They are atheist asylum seekers. They threatened and sometimes killed in their homeland. Atheists are still a minority around the world. According to the Global Index of Religion and Atheism, a Gallup survey conducted in 2012, 13 percent of the world's population identifies as atheist. In Saudi Arabia and the United States, that figure is 5 percent, in Germany 15 percent and in China 47 percent.

Mahmudul Haque Munshi's name was on a hit list in Bangladesh. After five of his friends and associates were murdered, the authorities warned the blogger: "There's nothing more we can do for you." Munshi had to leave the country in 2015.  Munshi is now on a so-called Global Hit List, which names Bengali refugees abroad who are to be killed. Munshi attracted the wrath of Islamists when he founded the Shahbag movement in his home country in 2013. The movement called for the punishment of those responsible for war crimes committed when Bangladesh fought for its independence against Pakistan in 1971. Roughly 3 million people died during that war.

Thirty-one-year-old Worood Zuhair, a biologist from the Iraqi city of Karbala, was beaten unconscious by her brother. The reason? She left the house without her father's permission and expressed doubts about her Muslim faith. Zuhair has since been recognized as a refugee in Germany. She has learned to talk about her suffering and now stands up for other women who have also experienced violence. She supports the work of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq and works together with human rights activist Mina Ahadi from the Central Council of Ex-Muslims.

Zuhair and Munshi belong to a group of refugees who were and continue to be persecuted because of their renunciation of the Islamic faith. For both of them, their questioning of God became a matter of life and death. They are fighting for freedom from religion, for the right to question teachings and traditions, for the rights of women and of minorities, for the right to lead a life without religious restrictions.

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