Friday, September 5, 2014

Brave atheist to be tortured, imprisoned in Saudi Arabia...Christian persecution fetishists remarkably silent

** EDIT: I'm revisiting this story as news has come out that Badawi's first lashes are imminent. I need to offer a point of clarification, in that while what I initially read indicated that Badawi was an atheist, the situation is not so clear. Apostasy is a death penalty crime, and Badawi has insisted that -- while people should have the right to disbelieve -- he is a Muslim. Whether this is an accurate description of his beliefs (given, as it was, with the specter of death nearby) or not, the point remains -- the silence for a courageous secularist's, be he a Muslim or atheist, plight is appalling. **

So in case you haven't heard about Raif Badawi, the Saudi human rights advocate, Friendly Atheist at Patheos Atheist has a very sad update on his fate:

Last year, 30-year-old Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was punished for starting a progressive website that called for, among other things, religious tolerance and women’s rights. That was insulting to Islam, said his critics. He was sentenced at the time to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. 
His sentence was overturned… but that respite was brief. In May, Badawi was given an even harsher punishment: 
… the Criminal Court has sentenced Badawi to ten years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a one million riyal fine (USD $266,631).
This is terrible news, and a stark reminder of the plight of atheists in theocracies. And thinking about it, I couldn't help but be reminded of the parallel between this case and that of another victim of religious theocracy -- Meriam Ibrahim. Now, you may remember in Ibrahim's case, she was arrested, imprisoned and sentenced for the "crime" of changing faiths -- from Islam to Christianity. (She was eventually freed). You may also remember that a whole boatload of atheists came out swinging for Ibrahim. Like Richard Dawkins. And the folks at the aforementioned Friendly Atheist. And, of course, there were plenty of "nobody atheists" like me who shared and posted and tweeted her story. Because it's utter horseshit that anyone should come to harm for their religious beliefs. This is what right wing Christians seem to miss when they whine, "Ohhhh, would you attack a Muslim for [insert constitutional or human rights violation of choice]" as a response to atheists demanding that the separation of Church and State be maintained. Yes, you're damned right we'll stand up to Muslims, or anyone else, who wants to force their faith on others or persecute people for not sharing that faith. We'll stand up for Christians, for Muslims, for atheists, for Buddhists, for anyone whose constitutional or human rights are being deprived by religious extremists and theocrats. But you know who I don't see doing that?

The folks with the persecution fetish, who think that not being allowed to persecute other people is in fact persecution.

The same folks who thought Meriam Ibrahim's abominable treatment at the hand of Sudanese Muslims was evidence that they were persecuted in America. The same folks who haven't made a damned peep about Raif Badawi. Who never make a peep when atheists are abused and murdered in theocracies across the world. And you know what? It pisses me off. It pisses me off that we share their concern for Christians who are being ill-treated, but they don't give a rat's ass about atheists who are being ill-treated. Humanity isn't a one-way street, and it's about time these selfish theocrats figured that out. What about the "golden rule", and doing to others as you would have them do to you? How fricking ironic is it that it's the atheists and the moderate religious people out there living this tenant, and not the most hardcore, supposed literalist Christians?

Alright, rant over. Yeah, I feel better for having said it. I'll end with the comment I put on Facebook, when sharing the story above. I hope it makes someone think. And if it didn't...well, I'll put it down to being therapeutic to call the hypocrisy like I see it. One note...before my hashtag paragraph ( :P ) I should have said "Atheists and progressive religious people have figured it out". It wasn't deliberately exclusionary. Looks like I've earned a TUII (Typing Under the Influence of Irritation) ;).

Where is the outcry to save Raif Badawi? I saw many atheists advocating for Meriam Ibrahim's release (and shared her story to draw attention to it myself), because no one should die or be harmed because they don't hold the ruling religion (or any religion)'s beliefs. But where's the religious outcry for Badawi? The same people who swore that Meriam's horrible mistreatment was evidence of their own persecution -- though they were safe & secure in the states -- are remarkably silent about the terrible fate awaiting this brave atheist... 
We're all in this together, people. Someone shouldn't have to share your beliefs to merit your concern -- and advocacy -- when they're being persecuted. Atheists have figured it out. How long until the rest catch on? 
#Disappointed #ReligiousToleranceAppliesToAtheistsToo #ReligiousToleranceIsntAOneWayStreet

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