Opinion Former Article

Discrimination faced by non-religious worldwide at alarming levels, new report shows

People who leave a religion, criticise a religion or god, or who are simply non-religious, have this last year experienced serious persecution in many countries, including several where they face the death penalty, according to a new report released today.

The Freedom of Thought report, published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), highlights the discrimination and persecution faced by the non-religious including humanists, atheists, and agnostics. Humanists UK has welcomed the report saying it highlights the extreme persecution that non-religious people face worldwide and reinforces the need for urgent global action.

For the first time, the report also singles out the top 10 worst countries to be non-religious. The five worst countries to be non-religious are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Maldives and Pakistan. United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Malaysia, Sudan and Brunei Darussalam round off the worst 10.

In 13 countries blasphemy or apostasy is punishable by death.

IHEU president Andrew Copson said: ‘This report paints a dark picture, with significant discrimination faced by our non-religious friends and colleagues around the world. At a time of growing nationalism, we continue to see those who are brave enough to criticise and critique conservative religious leaders demonized as “unpatriotic” and “subversive”.’

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson added: ‘In too many countries around the world, the situation is going backwards for humanists and other non-religious people. We will be working with the UK Government and other partners here in the UK to help combat this increasing discrimination.’

Countries are measured against a list of criteria under four key categories: constitution and government; education and children’s rights; family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals; and freedom of expression, advocacy of humanists values. Then the countries are ranked by severity from ‘free and equal’, ‘mostly satisfactory’, ‘systemic discrimination’, ‘severe discrimination’ and ‘grave violations’.

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on richy@humanism.org.uk or 07815 589636.

Read the full IHEU report at https://iheu.org/iheu-launches-2018-freedom-thought-report/

Read more about Humanists UK’s international campaign to end blasphemy laws: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/international-campaigns/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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