The title of the Guardian article Pakistani humanist denied UK asylum after failing to identify Plato may make you think The Guardian is changing into humour (see what I did there?) publication. After all, what government would keep someone from taking refuge in their country because they didn’t know about Euthyphro’s dilemma?
OK, Mr. Euthyphro may not be directly part of this tale.
But this is a very real story, Disbelievers
A Pakistani man who renounced his Muslim faith and became a humanist has had his application for asylum in the UK rejected after failing to correctly answer questions about ancient Greek philosophers.
The Home Office said Hamza bin Walayat’s failure to identify Plato and Aristotle as humanist philosophers indicated his knowledge of humanism was “rudimentary at best.”
And let’s clarify our terms for a moment. You say, humanist. I say, atheist. We both don’t believe in God.
The atheist in question apparently didn’t study for the exam. You’d think the only relevant question would be Are you going to get killed in your home country for your religious — or lack of religious — belief? I get the feeling Mr. Hamza bin Walayat can ace that exam.
But maybe he’s just a bit dramatic. What proof does he have that his life is in jeopardy if he returns to the old country?
Walayat, who has lived in the UK since 2011, said he had received death threats from members of his family and community in Pakistan after integrating into secular British life, forming a relationship with a non-Muslim partner and refusing to conform to the expectations of conservative Islam.
That passes the smell test for me.
The organization Humanists UK is trying to help him out of this bizarre and dark Monty Python sketch gone awry.
According to Humanists UK, “humanism is not a ‘canonical’ belief system, where adherents must learn and follow a strict set of behaviour codes. As a descriptive term, humanists can be someone who has simply rejected religious belief but holds some positive conception of human values.”
That seems to make a lot of sense. But unfortunately, the officials in charge seem to be interested in spouting toxic gibberish.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits.”
Wow. How about that?
Andrew Hall is the author of Laughing in Disbelief. Besides writing a blog, co-hosting the Naked Diner, he wrote two books, Vampires, Lovers, and Other Strangers and God’s Diary: January 2017 . Andrew is reading through the Bible and making videos about his journey on YouTube. He is a talented stand-up comedian. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Stay in touch! Like Laughing in Disbelief on Facebook: