At the weekend, the International Atheist Award was jointly handed in Warsaw to Michael Nugent, of Atheist Ireland and Fauzia Ilyas, founder of the Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan (AAAP) which is affiliated to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB). They are pictured above with holding their awards.
The ceremony, organised by the Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation, formed part of this year’s Polish Days of Atheism.
Nugent said in this post:
I accepted the award on behalf of all of the work done by everybody in Atheist Ireland.
The Polish Days of Atheism include an international conference on atheism and secularism, and an annual commemoration of the execution for atheism of 17th Century Polish philosopher Kazimierz Lyszczynski. Jane Donnelly and I attended this year, and we spoke on freedom of belief, women’s rights and the right to die.
A jury of atheist activists from different countries decide on the annual award. It is intended to recognise and encourage the promotion of atheism and secularism, as well as international cooperation between atheist and secular organisations.
It is indeed an honour to be associated with such dedicated and principled activists for atheism, secularism and human rights.
Ilyas, according to the CEMB, was forced to flee to the Netherlands in 2015 after a Lahore court initiated criminal proceedings against her under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law and issued an arrest warrant. Her ex-husband has custody of her eight-year-old daughter because she had left Islam.
Fauzia’s colleague, A Gilani, who is the current spokesperson for AAAP, which was launched in 2012, is in hiding in Pakistan. Both the AAAP’s official website and its Facebook presence have been obliterated.
When she fled Pakistan, the CEMB urged the Dutch government to grant Ilyas protection, saying:
Her life and freedom are at risk if she were to be returned to Pakistan. Moreover, the Pakistani government must end the persecution of those exercising their freedom of expression and belief. There is no place for blasphemy laws in this day and age.
Meanwhile Pakistan continues to sink even deeper into the sewer of Islamic fundamentalism.
At around the same time that the Polish event was being staged – on April 1 – it was reported here that the Pakistan government is to make Koranic education compulsory in all public and private schools, and a law in this regard is to be enacted “very soon” by parliament, according to State Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Mohammad Baligh-ur-Rehman.
This, to the April fool’s mind, would play a pivotal role in Pakistan’s “future development, solidarity, progress and prosperity”.