Iraqi Atheism

Looks like Americans are making a difference in Iraq in at least one positive way:

We’re teaching Iraqis about atheism.

It’s dangerous for anyone to say they don’t believe in a god in such a predominantly Muslim nation, but some brave Iraqis are even forming groups!

“Iraq is a land without God or any other kind of major protective superior form,” claims one atheist who declined to be named fearing reprisal.

“We have been forgotten and it is better to think only rationally than emotionally. I left behind my old beliefs because it is the only way to protect my children from any harm that God isn’t being able to do.”

Yasser (not his real name) is grouping up with others who have also renounced their faiths.

“When we first decided to organise ourselves, we were only eight people,” he told IOL.

“And after seven months, our number has reached to 34 but many other groups are being formed countrywide according to my contacts in northern and southern Iraq.

“We believe that today in Iraq, there are at least 220 atheists linked to the groups nationwide.”

I take serious pride in this statement from a religion teacher in Iraq: “No one is guiltier than the Americans who brought such ideas to Iraqis.”

You’re welcome :)

It’ll be a while before rationality takes a stronghold in the country, but if the movement can grow, it’ll help bring the country out of the darkness it’s in right now.

(Thanks to Keith for the link!)

  • muggle

    This is good news.

    Islam extremism will die in the face of Western culture and knowledge. It just doesn’t hold up or hold the lure. What’s a maybe you’ll get virgins galore after you die versus live like a man who’s conscience is his guide, not an outdated set of rules now.

    And women? It boggles the mind why any woman would want to be Muslim. It’s bad enough for men but simply horrible for women.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    See, blasting them back to the Iron Age really did do them good. :roll:

    Sadly I think that any positive change that comes out of Iraq is really just a lucky happenstance.

  • JJR

    Wish them success and freedom from persecution. Good to see this bubble up from the Iraqis themselves.

    I won’t be signing up for any Atheist Missionary trips anytime soon, though ;-)

    I’m guessing that some of our “godless” soldiers were approached by Iraqis, and the soldiers felt ok with being candid about their atheism. Not part of official policy, just sort of happens at a personal level. Plus prolonged war tends to be erosive of religious faith…there was a marked rise in irreligion after WW1, for example.

  • Beth B.

    Here’s to their continued safety. It takes real courage to organize together as nonbelievers in a climate like Iraq today.

  • Polly

    Plus prolonged war tends to be erosive of religious faith…there was a marked rise in irreligion after WW1, for example.

    Seems likely. And if any people ought to lose their belief in a divine protector, it is the Iraqi people, having endured the twin sorrows of the Saddam and US regimes over the past 20 years.

    We’re too rich in the US, for that kind of cultural comparative analysis. Much of the confidence of American xians comes from the dubious distinction of the most-Xian-nation (culturally) also holding status as the most powerful nation. If we ever fall American Xians might scurry off the ship of religion, too.

  • alex

    See, blasting them back to the Iron Age really did do them good.

    Unfortunately, it looks like, at least culturally, they were never out of said Iron Age since Islam was established there. I wish I could say otherwise, but looking at their de-facto theocracy, I don’t think it’s possible.

    On the bright side… Way to go, Iraqis!

  • DSimon

    Unfortunately, it looks like, at least culturally, they were never out of said Iron Age since Islam was established there.

    That statement there doesn’t jive with the historical facts. The Middle East during the height of Islam, the 9th to 13th centuries, was incredibly productive scientifically and culturally. Only after that period did the religion become more hostile to scientific thought.

    I’m all for supporting Iraqi atheism, and for arguing that religion is a bad idea, but we shouldn’t ever resort to misinformation to do so.

  • Ex-Muslim

    You know, not for nothing, but the source of the article, Islam Online, is the media mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood. Of *course* they are going to claim that atheism is a foreign ideology brought to the noble Arabs by the Americans. They didn’t cite any proof for this, though, did they? Plenty of stuff exists in the Muslim lands that they don’t like – from homosexuality to drug use – and they blame it on the Americans even though it’s been there for centuries.

    Atheism existed in Iraq 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago – and in other Arab countries as well. Iraq was a secular socialist country 20 years ago. I have older relatives who are atheist and dislike Islam and make no bones about it, and they *didn’t* need Westerners to tell them or teach them about it. Yes, it is dangerous to admit to being an atheist in public circumstances, regardless of what religion you are. So they say they are secular, and they direct their ire and skeptical comments towards the scholars of Islam, rather than god and muhammad.

    The comments that imply a sort of stupidity on the part of Muslim women are really unnecessary.

  • pete

    This type of situation is where Victor Stenger’s thoughts about new books always being the best option, loses some credibility in my opinion.

    Use of computers most likely isnt so rare these days in islamic countries,but how easy are atheist books to find.

  • pete

    Ex Muslim said..”The comments that imply a sort of stupidity on the part of Muslim women are really unnecessary”

    Totally agree.Sometimes humans dont quite understand a problem until they experience the situation themselves.

    “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”

  • Richard Wade

    I agree with Ex-Muslim that the notion that atheism has been brought like a disease by the Americans is transparent scapegoating. Ultra conservative, nationalistic types in all countries blame the things they don’t like in their societies on foreigners, on some convenient villain other than their own failings.

    Unbelievers are everywhere. They’re just very quiet and careful in some parts of the world. I hope those Iraqi atheists survive. They could all be rounded up and slaughtered in a single night.

    “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”

    Yeah, after a mile you can judge him all you want because he won’t be able to catch up with you in his bare feet.

  • pete

    “Yeah, after a mile you can judge him all you want because he won’t be able to catch up with you in his bare feet”

    L.o.L …hard case,will remember that.

  • muggle

    Ex-Muslim, if you’re referring to my comment, I had no intention of implying a sort of stupidity but was mocking any desire to be Muslim on anyone’s part, man or woman, while pointing out that it’s even worse for women than it is for men.

    Or do you disagree that Muslim women are treated like chattel? And that’s putting it mildly.

    I also had in mind women who convert. That’s pure insanity.

    If that offends, tough nuggies.

    There’s been plenty of mockery of Christianity on this blog that implies the stupidity and/or insanity of Christianity. I notice that you didn’t object to that!

    I don’t either. And I’m an ex-Christian. Why should Islam be shown any more respect?

  • http://whatabastor.wordpress.com whatabastor

    Atheism has been in the Arab world forever, many writers have written books about it since the dawn of Islam, those books were lost, but since many books were written to refute them and quoted their arguments… the works still exist, not in whole, but parts.

    I am from Saudi Arabia, we still cannot come out, so no atheist buses over here yet.

    A famous writer did come out many years ago by the name of Abdullah Algaseemi (Saudi), and was exiled. his books are still sold in libraries in some gulf countries and electronic versions of them are available also.

    So when they say the war in Iraq brought about atheism, I would say, spare me please… Iraq has alcohol distilleries & breweries, and Iraqis love to drink just like most humans … what is next… are they going to say we made them love beer?

    • Zerachiel

      Whatabastor, I would really appreciate it if you have any of Abdullah al-Qasemi’s works, electronic copies of course, and do not mind sharing them with a fellow freethinker. I’ve been searching the internet in vain to get a hold of them. The best I came by were few of his quotes and this ‘ominous’ line on one of the sites, “his books [al-Qasemi's] are expensive and hard to get”. How is that for a hope? Anyway, if you have any of his works, please leave a reply.

  • Bacopa

    I inderstand that Iraqi Chaldean Christians did quite well under Sadaam’s rule. They are doing less well now. Ancient churches are being attacked. “Unclean” businesses operated by Christians are being burned down.

    If our fight was really against Muslim extremists why did we invade the only country that put these extremists to death?

  • pete

    Muggle is right of course it is insane of any woman to choose to become muslim.

    But i cant see it really can be compared to Christianity quite the same,ive yet to see much information surface where women can be beaten bashed and maybe even killed if they refuse to do the will of their master husband if he wants them to become Christian.And im talking widespread and quite legally.

    And thats the difference between the insane bit and it often coming down more to survival within a system they find themselves existing within.

  • Yasser

    Dear writer,

    Atheism and secularism where always there in Iraq way long before the united states was even a super power.. Read about the modern day Iraqi state!!

    What the united states army did was actually putting those religious retards in power in the name of democracy and isolating the eligible rulers from the leadership of the country!! In a family of 10 mentally retarded people and one sane person – it’s not a good idea to choose one of the retarded people to lead the family even if he was from the majority!!

    There was always a tough conflict between religious retards and the educated class.. ever since 1921 we had the upper hand.. things went downhill after the islamic revolution in Iran and the ‘faith campaign’ Saddam started.. and finally crowned by the US handing power to Iran!!!

  • Otohegal

    You’re teaching us atheism?!!!
    The only thing we Iraqis had learned from you is the following: HUMAN STUPIDITY IS TRULY INFINITE.
    Just another ignorant self-indulgent American trying to polish the image of his stupid nation & its useless wars.
    You want to “teach us atheism”? Well, then you’ll have to teach us sign language first you retards, because only 11 people out of the 150,000 Americans that are stationed in Iraq speak Arabic. Sorry, WERE stationed in Iraq before they were kicked out, after the natives defeated Al-Qaeda for them.
    If I want to describe the Americans in one word, it would have to be: USELESS.

  • Heider

    Dear writer,
    I am an Iraqi atheist, and I find this short article to be a bit insulting to us, Iraqi atheists .

    Non-belief in Iraq is as old as history itself; even before the first Europeans set sail to the new world Iraq had its fair share of nonbelievers like Ibn Al Haytham who wrote about the scientific method, rationality, and non-belief .

    A nation – the US – in which 4 out of 10 of its citizens believe that Jesus will return in their own life time should not claim a monopoly on teaching other nations around the world about atheism.

    We have learned more about atheism from Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, and Bertrand Russell than we have learned from the actions or the history of the United States. Its true that we have sometimes inspired by the words and deeds of the great founding fathers like Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, but we still have to remind ourselves that even those great men weren’t without their fallacies, and some of them did actually own slaves.

    Moreover, all Iraqis pretty much agree that the invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003 was not to spray freedom dust on the Iraqi people; George Bush believed that ‘God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq’, and probably Dick Cheney told him that he should kill about a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians, while he was at it.

    During the times of the notorious dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq was constitutionally and practically a secular country, in which the role of religion in public discourse was minimized. However, just few months into the invasion of Iraq, we saw a rise in sectarian violence on scale that is historically unprecedented.

    The new and disgusting Iraqi constitution – slightly supervised by Paul Bremer – is a non secular constitution, and gives no rights to non believers, and has probably pushed our country several centuries backwards. To say that Americans are” teaching Iraqis about atheism ” is a fictitious claim.

    We would like to work with our atheist brothers and sisters around the world to spread reason and rationality and and broaden the role of science and compassion and human solidarity, and in order for that to happen we have to be less condescending towards each other, so we can learn from each other.

    Kind Regards,
    Heider


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