It’s ironic that during “Rationalist Week ’09” sponsored by the Leeds University Atheist Society (in the United Kingdom), a student in the group received a death threat.
It is said the student, who wished to remain anonymous, was threatened while patrolling outside the festival tent at night. The victim in question has decided not to go to the police, but police in Leeds are now investigating vandalism that also occurred during the event.
This is the second death threat received by the society, the last one being made by university’s Muslim society member’s state. They believe that this most recent threat may have also been made by the same people.
Even more ironic is that the threat (and an act of vandalism) occurred on the same day the Southampton University Atheist Society found out they were allowed to hold a debate on the “limits of free speech.”
What is the motive behind the threats? One theory is the atheists were trying to stir up religious hatred… I’ve never known a student group to do such a thing. Another theory is that the students wanted to “debate the validity of Islam.” Since when is that off-limits? That’s precisely the type of discussion you want to see happening at the university level. It’s outrageous the lengths some religious people will go to to protect their sacred cows.
Have you ever received a death threat that was related to your atheism?
How did you handle it?
It’s happened to me once (only once, I should say), via email. The sender was anonymous and the note was vague. I just deleted it.
I also once wrote a posting about a younger atheist — a commenter issued a threat against her. I sent that commenter’s name/email/IP address to the young atheist’s parents. They forwarded it to police and kept the girl home from school the following day. Nothing ever became of that threat as far as I know.
Still, nothing in person, and nothing I’ve deemed too serious.
I’m sure if I’m getting that few, some of you are getting far more…
(Thanks to Chloë for the link!)