Arab Atheists Are Slowly Coming Out of the Closet

The Associated Press’ Diaa Hadid has an encouraging story about brave atheists in the Arab world. Despite having to constantly look over their shoulders to make sure no one catches them, there’s clearly a small-but-growing presence:

… the online space is flourishing. There are some 60 Arabic-language atheist Facebook groups — all but five of them formed since the Arab Spring. They range from “Atheists of Yemen” with only 25 followers, to “Sudanese Atheists” with 10,344 followers.

There are pages that appear dormant, but most maintain some activity. An “Arab Atheist Broadcasting” outfit produces pro-atheism YouTube clips. There are closed groups, like an atheist dating club in Egypt.

It is impossible to know the number of atheists in the Arab world, given their secrecy. It is not clear whether the increasing online activity reflects that numbers have risen or simply that more are emerging from isolation. Over a dozen interviews with atheists suggest both. In any case, atheists remain a tiny minority.

In a part of the world where Alber Saber and Waleed al-Husseini have had to flee for their safety after being arrested for their anti-religious beliefs, any atheists who have the bravery to find community, online or in person, deserve to be commended.

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.

  • LesterBallard

    I certainly wish them luck.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    How to get the message in to the Muslim world that non-religion is an option??

    How to remind them that even the Quran has a verse, “There is no compulsion in religion.”

    I guess the internet is the hope for the future, (i.e., hope that Muslims in Islamic countries stumble onto some freethought while they are online for Facebook and porn). Meanwhile, for places without internet, too bad no one can air-drop fliers evangelizing for freethought.

    • Semra Pia

      Sorry but that was a verse which appeared in the early times of islam. After gaining strength, Mohammad changed it to “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” (9:29)

      Do you see why islam is “The Most Powerful Religion” as the muslims claim? Because you either accept it or die! The only freedom in islam is to accept islam!

  • midnight rambler

    Some draw strong negative comment. One responder, calling himself Sam,
    maintained that “attacking Islam has become the cheapest flight ticket
    to Europe,” a reference to those who have fled their Muslim homelands.

    Well you know, there’s a simple way to stop being an open atheist from becoming an easy ticket to asylum in Europe…

  • Coolred38

    As someone who has lived over 20 years in the Arab world and personal experience with them…I would say that a far larger number of Muslims are just Muslim in name only because it is dangerous to claim other wise. I have lived over here before the Internet became common up until it has taken over social discourse and the trend from near absolute silence from dissenting Muslim voices to actual conversations against the Quran, Mohammed and Hadith is directly related to it. The Internet will eventually be the death of religion in areas where it has traditionally held a vice like grip.

  • Tobias2772

    Perhaps we could create a charity that helps pay for Arab atheists to leave their stone age home and find a new life in a civilized country where we don’t stone people for disagreeing with us.

    • wombat

      Immigration law’s a bitch, though.