How Brave Do You Have to Be to Blog as a Non-Religious Arab?

Kacem El Ghazzali is an Arab blogger who was forced to leave Morocco and move to Switzerland to avoid persecution because of his views. He’s a Deist, but he might as well be an atheist considering what he’s up against. It was a life or death situation for him and staying silent wasn’t an option.

He recently spoke on the show Qarib Jiddan about his plight:

Dr. Amna Nosseir, also interviewed in the video, doesn’t get what he’s up against. She says his family should have just made him repent. She says they didn’t do a good enough job guiding him down the right path.

When the host asks her if he should be prosecuted, she just says, “No… not yet.”

Scary.

Atheists have a lot to complain about in America, but we can’t forget how good we have it compared to people like Kacem. Unlike us, he and people like Alexander Aan are risking their lives (or jail time) to speak the truth. They don’t have it easy, but because of their bravery, Arabs in the future may be able to pick up from where they leave off.

(Thanks to Max for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • GregFromCos

    Very interesting.

    I think the most interesting thing in there (besides the horror of the state of disbelief in the Arab world) is her continual reference to him just being rebellious. That is a very common thread amongst Christian Fundamentalists also. I guess when your dealing with people overcoming brainwashing, it just makes sense to call it rebellion. Otherwise you’d have to take their views seriously.

  • Amy

    I didn’t realize until listening to a recent “This American Life” about the trouble that even American Muslims are subjected to – many mosques are instituting “How to deal with FBI agents when they show up at your door” and have FBI infiltrators in their mosques on a routine basis.  I can’t imagine worshipping at a Church – when I was a Catholic – knowing that it was infiltrated by spies.

    • Georgina

      WWII used churches as a place to organise resistance, including storing weapons in the cellar. Since we won that one, we consider them heroes.

      Islam uses Mosques to organise resistance against an islamic Caliphate and shari’ah. Since that war is still in progress (I hope we win), it seems resonable that the status quo, aka FBI, investigate.
       

  • Stephen Cameron

    Wow.  Bible belt doesn’t seem so bad by comparison.  (still sucks though.)

    • LesterBallard

      But they are some envious fuckers.

  • NeedingMoreFacts

    “Atheists have a lot to complain about in America …”

    No, actually you don’t.  For the same reason that Christians aren’t being persecuted, you aren’t either.

    • Octoberfurst

       Uhh yes we do have a lot to complain about. While we are not being physically attacked or chased out of this country we do have to deal with the mindless idiocy of Christians trying to force their religion down societies throat. We have to deal with Christians trying to make schools teach creationism. We have to deal with Christians persecuting gays. We have to deal with Christians trying to make women not have a say as to whether they carry a pregnancy to term or not. The list goes on and on. Therefore I, and others like me, will continue to complain until things change.

      • kenneth

        The political Christian forces in this country are working around the clock to establish the same chuch-state dynamic as exists in most Muslim countries. They would very much like to give their religion the same force of law as Islam has in Saudi Arabia, and they would do so by the close of business today if they could. 

    • Isilzha

       The new troll is lame.

    • Edmond

      No, we’re not actually being “persecuted”.  But it doesn’t have to get THAT far before we’re justified in complaining.

      It’s worth keeping in mind that atheists have things MUCH easier in America than we would in many foreign countries.  But that’s no reason to accept a status quo of religious encroachment.  The beauty of America’s Constitution is that it makes our nation into an IDEAL of church/state separation.  If we want to preserve that ideal, and stand as an example of secular government with freedom of worship, then it’s important to stay alert, and stay on top of theistic attempts to make their doctrines mandatory for non-believers, or people of other faiths.

      If we’re not VIGILANT, if we DON’T complain when religion oversteps its bounds, then America COULD become the kind of place where people ARE persecuted for bucking the religious mainstream trend.

      • nakedanthropologist

        Well said!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    What a remarkably well-mannered and well-managed discussion. No one interrupting each other, no shouting, and for the most part, people actually responding to what the others had said. Imagine such a discussion on U.S. TV. Those are extremely rare.

    Mr. Joseph did quite a good job keeping people on topic and challenging some of the ambiguous, unclear or inaccurate remarks of his guests.

    Kacem was consistently articulate and rational.

    Dr. Nosseir was consistently condescending and dismissive, repeating again and again her characterization of Kacem as merely a rebellious youth. Hers is a deeply paternalistic viewpoint, and her responses were the least attentive to what Kacem was actually saying.

    Dr. Sabaa started out supporting Kacem, and he correctly described how Middle East dictators use religion to justify their absolute power. Unfortunately, Sabaa apparently fancies himself a mystic, and so just before he actually advocated freedom to be a nonbeliever, he started babbling about how Kacem’s “belief in himself will necessarily lead him to the profound belief in the supreme divine.” Oh brother. The rational path to woo.

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      It is interesting to compare and contrast the Islamic version of theocracy with the American version.

      For the Islamics, theocracy means to have a mixture of religion, politics, and society with just a single perspective on religion.  All other versions of religion being heretical.

      For the American version of theocracy, there is a similar desire for the mixture of religion, politics, and society but with allowing a plurality of different religious views (as long as you belong to some kind of religious denomination).   For example, the Baptists now tolerate the Catholics and visa-versa as long as each groups supports the intertwining of religion in politics and society.  It is this intertwining that supports and props up each version of the faith. 

      In America, the religious view as dangerous any efforts to un-entwine religion with either politics or society.  In the “good-old days” the intertwining was so  prevalent and ubiquitous to almost be invisible.  The secularists where such a small minority as to not even be on the radar screen.  Now the secularists are much more vocal (mainly with new technologies allowing for easier communication) and the religious feel they need to organize and fight to keep the religious privilege they had previously enjoyed. 

      There is a battle for what religious freedom means.  Does it mean that people are free to have any religious beliefs they want as long as they are still religious (and support the intertwining of religion with politics and society) or does it also mean that people are free not to be religious and thus not support the intertwining of religion with politics and society.

      The religious view religion as a necessary glue that holds society together and view the non-religious as a threat to their whole way of life.  This view is shared by the religious in both the American and the Islamic countries.

  • Octoberfurst

     I found the interview fascinating. I have nothing but the highest regard for Kacem. He put his life on the line to take a stand for reason and for freedom of expression. I don’t think I would have had that kind  of courage.  The fact that he had to flee his own country saddens me. I wish him the best and a long, happy life.
      Mr Joseph did a good job as the interviewer. But it bugged me that he kept questioning Kacem about the seriousness of the death threats he received. It was like he couldn’t believe that people in a Muslim country would actually threaten Kacem with death for being against the Muslim faith.  It made me wonder what planet he was from.
      I found Dr Nosseir very irritating. She was very condescending and kept saying that Kacem was just going through a stage of rebellion and all he needed was some good guidance from his parents and the local Imams. Yes indeed, all Kacem needed was for someone to really explain Islam to him and then everything would be swell again. But what I found frightening was her response to Mr Joseph asking if Kacem should be punished for his beliefs and she said “Not yet.”  Wow!
       As for Dr Sabaa I really couldn’t understand what he was talking about. He seemed to be saying that Kacem’s disbelief will lead  him into believing again.  Huh?? Maybe I missed something.   
       I feel sorry for those who are atheists in Muslim countries. The must hide their disbelief or face persecution. I wonder how we here in America could help them?

    • Santiago

      I did not see the questions on him feeling threatened as a negative. I actually tbought he wanted his audience to understand how Kacem felt threatened. I may be wrong though, so I will watch the segment again. Overall I think Mr Joseph did a decent job.

      It is shameful that I grew up so close to Morocco and know so little about this country and its society. I will try to remedy that.

  • http://twitter.com/moother moother

    the only cure for islam is atheism, not a war with christianity.

    we should be giving people like this all the support they can get

  • Trish Norman

    I not only know Kacem I help him avoid being caught and I can tell you there were some very hairy moments and it seemed like Kacem would be killed by any number of people. It was so bad we often did not think he would be still online the next day. It was the net that enabled Kacem to get help and inform us of his problems. I hope he has a good life and is happy but I know this has scarred his being


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