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.

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