Moroccan Atheist in Hiding, Pursued for ‘Shaking Faith’

Imad Eddin Habib of Morocco is no shrinking violet. At 22, he is a very outspoken and active atheist who seems to delight in ruffling feathers by the mere mention of his nonbelief. On Facebook, he posted a smiling photo of himself holding a sign that reads:

In my country people are jailed and harassed for being atheist.
This photo may cost my life, or my freedom.
But I insist to tell you:
I AM PROUD TO BE AN ATHEIST!

His online activism has gotten him in trouble, according to the publication Free Arabs (whose tagline is “Democracy, Secularism, Fun”). They report that Moroccan police have gone looking for him (even breaking into a house where they wrongly thought he lived), as Imad has gone into hiding.

Imad is not wanted for “atheism” per se, as atheism is not a crime in Morocco. But “shaking Muslims’ faith” is.

Just before he disappeared, he posted this online, in possible goading of his persecutors:

There is no God but… Mickey Mouse!

In addition, he posted this Facebook comment (paying homage to — who else? — Minnie Mouse):

At CFI (my employer) you can be sure we’ll keep an eye on this case as it develops. But on a personal note, in the midst of so much tragedy as nonbelievers and other dissidents are being cracked down on, it’s kind of inspiring to see one man seeming to delight in his role. I hope he stays safe.

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo.

  • Mackinz

    As much as I fear for the life of the guy, I respect him for his actions and attitude, and it makes me wish that “heresy” (a.k.a. “you insulted my sky fairy!!!”) was not an actual or serious crime because some people feel insulted by it. Neither should apostasy (which I believe he is “guilty” of?), as that is just plain bullcrap.

    • pete084

      Apostasy is leaving the faith, something you’re threatened with in both Islam and Catholicism, but the consequences are death in this life for the former and the no afterlife for the latter.

      Ridiculous either way, fear is not an ideal sales technique, but it works for the Mafia.

      • randall.morrison90

        And in Academia.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Really? Death threats, in this life or the hereafter for apostasy in Academia?

          Randall, there are plenty of blogs highlighting the very real persecution of Christians all over the world. I’ve visited a few of them, and unless they’re whining about Christians persecuted because they can’t display bible verses on HS football banners, I don’t recall any atheists going there and whining about atheist persecution.

          Hey! Do you think maybe the problem is lack of true individual freedom of religion in many parts of the world, including at times in the US? Maybe? Hey#2, how about if we work to protect your religious freedom by keeping religion out of government, and you can do the same. Deal?

        • Carmelita Spats

          I believe in liberating biblical studies from Christianity. I am applying to Dallas Theological Seminary but I have to sign a doctrinal statement or they won’t accept me. I HAVE to accept the following points

          1. the Trinity
          2. the full deity and humanity of Christ
          3. the spiritual lostness of the human race
          4. the substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ
          5. salvation by faith alone in Christ alone
          6. the physical return of Christ
          7. the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.

          So where’s the “persecution”? By DTS standards, Catholics are not welcome. You are not “persecuted” in Academia. You’ve failed to make your case. You’ve been left behind and it ain’t the Rapture.

          • Valancy Jane

            Wow. You’d think they’d welcome a non-believer with open arms. You’re ASKING to be swamped with BibleBibleBible every single day of your life for years. You’re ASKING to learn all about their religion. You’re ASKING to be around Christians all the time. You may even be asking to live around them if they do dorms! It’s downright baffling they’d ask you to sign an agreement like that; it’s like they’re flat-out stating they are perfectly aware that without having a serious predisposition to believe the man behind the curtain, being there wouldn’t make you Christian at all by the time you left. Coupled with what I’ve already heard about how seminary shakes so many young Christians’ faith when they learn what the Bible really is, it all makes me wonder how any of them can stay in the religion at all.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    what a brave young man. i wish him luck and safety.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Won’t you spare even one thought for that other forgotten and horribly persecuted religious minority in the USA? I speak, of course, of the Christians, who have been harassed in the streets, seen their churches burned, homes of friends invaded by the jack-booted thugs of the Atheist Police™, denied employment, had contracts with restaurants and clubs rescinded and been told that for shaking the faith of the atheist majority they live within they could be beaten or even killed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=773692362 Jansen Waddell

      This comment gave me a heart attack.

    • randall.morrison90

      Christians actually are persecuted and killed in many parts of the Muslim world and in Officially Atheistic Countries.

      And here in the USA expression of religious beliefs can hinder advancement, and even stop it, in many secular academic university settings and professions…expecially among lawyers. I have had pleny of professors who pushed their atheistic views.

      • JKPS

        “Christians actually are persecuted and killed in many parts of the Muslim world and in Officially Atheistic Countries.”

        Yes, it’s true and very sad. However, that’s not the point here. In fact, you just kind of proved the point! The point is Christians are the majority in the States and yet many of them still have the audacity to claim religious persecution every time someone expresses an opposing belief. It’s even stranger when they use the “Christians are persecuted elsewhere” argument! It’s like exactly, there is real persecution going on, so why don’t you focus on that?

        I would like to know what you mean by pushing atheistic views, though, and if it’s a serious problem then I suggest you report it, just like I would suggest an atheist report a professor who was taking advantage of their power to push Christian views on the class or fail them for not agreeing, etc.

      • The Other Weirdo

        First paragraph not really relevant since I specifically limited my response to the USA.

        As for the second, I think I’d like evidence of “…expression of religious beliefs can hinder…” rather than religious privilege being curtailed. “No Intelligence Allowed” isn’t really evidence.

        • Wild Rumpus

          Yeah, randall – I am also wondering about these “Officially Atheistic Countries”you are so afraid of being persecuted in.

          Revolutionary Mexico? Not since about 1940
          Albania? Not since 1984
          China? Not since 1978
          Cuba? Officially a “Secular State”, not atheist.
          Russia? 70% Orthodox
          North Korea? Has replaced religion with ideology. Constitution claims “freedom of religion”, but cult of personality dominates.

          Are you like most Christians who just make stuff up when it suits them?

          • randall.morrison90

            Nothing made up. China is still persecuting believers.

            Cuba”s government is not “secular”, it is atheistic…but at least you admit “secular” does not equal “atheist”.

            North Korea is Officially Atheistic, and, yep, Atheism can be an ideology too.

            Who ya kiddin? Its happening. Face it. Deal with it.

            • Kinky F.

              Citations for all claimed please – and a church Sunday bulletin does not count….

              Put up or shut up.

            • Randay

              North Corea may be an “officially” atheistic state, but it is effectively a religious state based on hero worship or personality cult. The head of state is still officially a dead man.

              “Ideology” is not a dirty word. My Oxford Dictionary, “1 – a set of ideas that an economic or political system is based on. 2 – a set of beliefs, especially one held by a particular group, that influences the way people behave”.

      • Wild Rumpus

        “And here in the USA expression of religious beliefs can hinder advancement, and even stop it, in many secular academic university settings and professions.”

        Yeah… funny that… if you believe the earth is 600 years old, then you will not be allowed into the faculty at any secular Geology Department.

        If you believe that only God can determine the end of the earth, then you will not be allowed into the faculty at any secular Environmental Studies Department.

        If you don’t believe in Evolution, then you will not be allowed into the faculty at any Archaeology Department, or Genetics Department.

        If you believe that women are inferior to and should be helpers of men then you will not be allowed into the faculty at any secular Women’s Studies Department.

        If you believe that prayer alone can heal, you will not be allowed to study medicine at a secular university.

        IT IS PERSECUTION OF THE CHRISTIANS, I TELL YOU!

        Conversely, Atheists rarely get Doctorates of Theology at Christian Universities.

        PERSECUTION OF ATHEISTS!!!!

      • Mario Strada

        That’s very nice to hear. Tell me more….

      • DavidMHart

        Ever notice how every time someone uses the phrase ‘atheistic country’, they always mean ‘a country which is ruled under some sort of utopian ideology that happens to see religion as a rival utopian ideology’, and never ‘a country where many or most people are atheists’?

        The problem with North Korea is not that it is governed by atheists; the problem is that it is governed by people who endorse the personality cult of the Kim dynasty. The problem with China and Cuba is not that they have atheist govenments; the problem is that they have communist governments.

        You are able to recognise the fact that the reason Christians are persecuted in Egypt or Pakistan is not that the majority in those country aren’t Christians, but that they are Muslims – and, moreover, Muslims who either actively want to see their ideology enforced by law or aren’t sufficiently concerned to speak up against it being enforced by law.

        Now I’ll guarantee you that any country that is not a Muslim-majority country where Christians face legally sanctioned persecution is a country whose leaders believe (or at least publicly espouse) an ideology that is roughly equal in preposterousness to Islam or Christianity. In not one of them does the fact that the ruling preposterous ideology doesn’t include the Abrahamic god turn out to be the primary motivation behind the persecution.

        There’s a reason Christians aren’t being persecuted in largely non-religious countries like Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden etc – and that is that those countries are officially secular. And that is all that most outspoken atheists demand – that governments be utterly neutral with regard to religions (and indeed any other belief systems) – we are confident that, given a truly level playing field, and widely available education, religions will simply lose the fight in the free market of ideas. We don’t need or want to persecute the religious; we know their beliefs don’t hold water; so all we need to do is counter their case.

        Utopian ideologies like Juche and communism, on the other hand, do need to apply force to keep people onside, because the evidence for them being ideal systems to live under is very poor – they know that they would lose in the marketplace of ideas. They would certainly lose when people have the option of a free society with free speech and the rule of law, so they persecute those who speak out for that. They may or may not lose to religions, but they generally take no chances, so they’re happy to persecute religious people too.

        TL;DR: If you’re worried about Christians being persecuted, your beef is not with atheism, but with other utopian ideologies like Islam, Communism and Juche.

        • randall.morrison90

          Communism, as expressed in the last century and on into our own time, is based on “Dialectical Materialism”.

          Hint; its atheistic.

          • DavidMHart

            So? The fact that communism / dialectical materialism is ‘atheistic’ is completely beside the point. If being an atheist logically compelled you to be a dialectical materialist, then you would have an argument. But being an atheist no more compels you to be a dialectical materialist than being a Christian compels you to be a Catholic Inquisitor.

            Your beef is still with dialectical materialism (and other ideologies), not with the mere lack of belief in gods.

          • Kinky F.

            Persecution or woman and non-believers, as expressed by the Christian user manual – aka The Bible – is based on hatred and ignorance.

            Hint: That IS Christianity in its pure form.

          • Randay

            The current hero of Paul Ryan and many other reactionary “libertarian” Republicans is Ayn Rand, an atheist. It’s funny how they accept her social darwinism but don’t mention her atheism.

            • Charles Honeycutt

              During the last election, Paul Ryan officially renounced Ayn Rand. He did so solely on the basis of her atheism, not her politics.

              His raving bigotry did not go remarked by the media.

          • Charles Honeycutt

            Communism in practice has always been a part of parareligious ideologies.

            Hint: They’re religious governments, just with the “The State” replacing “God”.

      • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

        There’s a huge difference between people not wanting to associate with a person who espouses antiquated beliefs—I personally have a hard time associating with homeopaths—and having the police come knocking at your door because of your faith.

  • A3Kr0n

    Muslims must have pretty shaky faith if some young upstart can shake it.

    • Randomfactor

      Via Facebook, no less.

    • McAtheist

      In a hypothetical battle between Allah and Minnie Mouse…….who would win?

      • Valancy Jane

        Oh, Minnie Mouse, don’t be silly. That mouse would CUT a bitch.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    He posted this 6hrs ago (a letter to him)

    I really want to express my deep sympathy for your courage to be who you are. Altho i am still a muslim i think that the free will and the expression of free will is a must for every human being. I’m a secular Muslim that thinks that a state shouldn’t interfere with any religion and has to be a neutral so it can defense every human being without looking to there religion.
    It is sad that Morocco is still thinking that they can protect everyone with a state-religion.

    Good luck with your fight and just always think that there are also progressive and secular Muslims supporting you and a lot of others atheist.

    Grtz Carim Bouzian
    Liberal Party Flanders – Belgium

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    So, atheism is not a crime in Morocco, but “shaking Muslims’ faith” is.

    Would that mean if Imad is arrested and charged with this terrible crime, that witnesses would have to come forward to testify that their faith has been shaken?
    “Oh yes, it is terrible! My faith in Allah has been shaken by this man with his uh, what do Westerners call that… Book of Face!”
    Wouldn’t that be at least social suicide for those witnesses, and possibly implicate them for the crime of shaking someone else’s faith as well?

    Not that I think the Moroccan authorities actually need evidence to convict someone in their kangaroo courts.

    • Valancy Jane

      “OH NOES! People who don’t believe in my fairy tale exist and walk the earth! However could this be…? My faith must be untrue!”

      It’s worth noting that at no point in my entire Christian walk did a non-believer shake my belief in any way. I knew they existed, but they didn’t damage my calm any more than knowing there exist creationists shakes my acceptance of science now.

  • Kinky F.

    So how can we help him? Where can I get some money into a hidden account and help him on his underground railroad forced march? Seriously. How can we help this brave man?

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ Daniel Wall

    I see no end in sight to stories like this.


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