The International Humanist and Ethical Union has released the Freedom of Thought Report 2013, which documents rampant discrimination against and persecution of the non-religious in countries around the globe. You can download the full report here.
It is the first report focusing specifically on the rights, legal status, and discrimination against Humanists, atheists and the non-religious in every country in the world.
The report found that:
- You can be put to death for expressing atheism in 13 countries
- In 39 countries the law mandates a prison sentence for blasphemy, including six western countries
- The non-religious are discriminated against, or outright persecuted, in most countries of the world
A new report launching today, Tuesday, examines every country in the world for legal discrimination and human rights violations which specifically affect atheists, humanists and the non-religious.
Issues from children forced to pray in school classrooms, to the most “Grave Violations”.such as death for breaking “blasphemy” laws, are considered in the report’s comprehensive rating system.
Death for unbelievers
12 countries in Africa, 9 in Asia, and 10 in the Middle East, were given the worst rating for committing “Grave Violations”. Some of these governments were found to openly incite hatred against atheists, or authorities which systematically fail to prosecute violent crimes against atheists.
Furthermore, in 12 of the worst-offending states, religious authorities can put atheists to death for the crime of “apostasy” (i.e. leaving religion; in all cases the religion was Islam).
Around the world, the Report found 55 countries with ‘blasphemy’ laws on the books, or other laws forbidding criticism or “insult” to religion. In 39 such countries the law mandates a prison sentence for blasphemers.
Three states, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, can execute “blasphemers”. In another three states, militant Islamists acting as religious authorities in some areas are also dealing out Sharia punishment including death for “offences” to religion: namely Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram and other Islamists in Nigeria, and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Despite some social restrictions here in the United States, atheists in this country are still incredibly privileged in comparison to much of the rest of the world. We may face bias and stigma but we do not often face actual discrimination, persecution or prosecution. We must work toward the day when no one faces such abuse merely because they don’t believe in someone else’s gods.