Saudi Writer Gets Nervous About Atheism’s Advance Among the Young; Likens Non-Belief To ‘Cancer’ and ‘Terrorism’

Abdul Aziz Qassem, writing for the Saudi Gazette, is in high dudgeon over “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism,” a 2012 poll conducted by WIN-Gallup International. He writes:

The poll showed that the percentage of atheists in Saudi Arabia is the same as in advanced European countries like Belgium. The strangest part in the poll is the finding that the number of atheists in Saudi Arabia reached five percent. This makes the [Saudi] Kingdom the first country in the Islamic world where the number of atheists have crossed the five-percent mark, which is more than the percentage ratio of atheists in secular countries like Turkey and Tunisia.

Secular Saudi blogger Raif Badawi faces the death penalty

Qassem blames the folly of the young:

Normally, doubts strike the minds of youths in their adolescence. These youths are slipping into the dark abyss of atheism by frequently visiting social networking sites, reading atheist authors and holding dialogues, as in the case of some students on scholarship grants, with their teachers in Western universities. These youths, who do not have deep understanding of religion and its values, are prone to atheism. Atheist ideas began to influence these youths in the course of time and they eventually distance themselves from religion.

After discussing this pressing problems with his peers, Qassem decided that the major reason for the advance of atheism in Saudi Arabia

… is the apathy on the part of many scholars to listen to the youths and clarify their doubts. … It is … essential to provide specialized courses for scholars and preachers on how to engage the youths in the fruitful dialogues to clear their doubts. To achieve this, it is necessary to launch a massive national campaign and to open new channels for online interaction with the younger generation to satisfy their questions and clear their skepticism. Parents have to play a crucial role in this respect.

At present, efforts to contain the onslaught of atheism are limited. These are mainly concentrated on personal initiatives. There should be a participation of the entire society in dealing with this serious issue. This shall be based on a national strategy worked out by our Shariah bodies to protect our religion. Like what we did in combating terrorism, we have to root out atheism.

Got that? Pious asswipes flying airliners into office buildings, or wasting a shopping mall and everyone in it, or slaughtering a gymnasium full of schoolchildren, are somehow the equivalent of people who don’t believe in the very gods that inspire believers to carry out such butchery.

Qassem proposes that

… Specialized centers to hold dialogue with young men and women could be set up, in addition to launching an exclusive satellite channel to promote the cause.

I wonder how such a channel would differ from the rest of the religion-saturated programming across the Arab world.

Regardless — something must be done, says Qassem.

It is easier to treat cancer in its initial stage before it seeps deep into the body cells.

Gimme an effing break.

It’s religion that, in countries like his, is the malignant tumor. It’s religion that practices the worst kinds of discrimination against non-members of the precious tribe. It’s religion that literally threatens the lives of those who have no need for it.

Says one Saudi atheist, quoted in the Washington Post last year:

“If someone declared that he was a non-believer, regardless of whether the government took action or not, he would be cut off by his family, he would be fired from his own job, people everywhere would talk about him and warn others about him. It would be highly likely that people would hurt him physically, perhaps murder him.”

Saudi Arabia is one of 13 countries — all Islamic — where atheists face the death penalty. If Mr. Qassem believes the Qur’an, which says that “there is no compulsion in religion,” I’d sure like to see him address that outrage.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.