If you haven’t signed this petition started by Michael Sherlock to ensure freedom FROM religion and barbaric blasphemy laws, please do so and share it. Note that I edited the letter that will be delivered to the United Nations high commissioner for Human Rights, and my name is appended to it.
So far, Michael’s managed to get very prominent signers such as Richard Dawkins, Pat Condell, Frank Zindler, Ricky Gervais and Al Stefanelli. Other notables include Christians, so this isn’t just a matter of human rights for atheists and other secularists. It applies to persecuted religious minorities as well, wherever they may be.
“@sherlockmichael, @AcharyaS, @micknugent and @SanalEdamaraku discuss blasphemy laws and how they affect YOU. Sign the petition at humanrightsforaas.org – @1GodlessWoman gives us an update on @raif_badawi – show your support with the IStandWithRaif hashtag. This is a really important episode. Please share it across your social networks!”
Petition by Human Rights For Atheists, Agnostics and Secularists
Our petition appeals to the United Nations to amend Articles 13 (b), 55 (c) & 76 (c) of the Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice to include the non-religious as an expressly protected group. In so amending, the United Nations would be sending a clear message to its member states that imprisoning, torturing, executing and otherwise molesting secularists and nonbelievers such as atheists and agnostics is incompatible with basic human rights.
If you go to the letter under the above paragraph, my name is at the bottom:
To: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Honorable Navanethem Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Re: Freedoms and Rights for Nonreligious People Worldwide
Dear Ms. Pillay:
We the signers humbly ask you to consider both a human rights petition and concern shared by a growing number of people persecuted for non-belief in religious dogma, including millions of atheists and agnostics around the world. Both the petition and the concern regard the proposed enactment and enforcement of so-called blasphemy laws and their offshoots such as defamation of religion and religious-insult “hate speech” legislation in member states. The reality is that these blasphemy laws and “hate speech” legislation violate the cornerstone rights of freedom of expression, thought and conscience, tenuously upheld by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976), Articles 18 and 19 in particular.
Our petition, which has been linked below, appeals to the United Nations to amend Articles 13 (b), 55 (c) & 76 (c) of the Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice to include the non-religious as an expressly protected group. In so amending, the United Nations would be sending a clear message to its member states that imprisoning, torturing, executing and otherwise molesting secularists and nonbelievers such as atheists and agnostics is incompatible with basic human rights.
The primary aim of this limb of the petition is to bind member states that have refused to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976). Our petition, which now has the support of secular scientist Dr. Richard Dawkins, Ricky Gervais and other notable signatories, also aims to implore the United Nations to amend the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976) by narrowing and tempering the restrictions on freedom of expression enunciated in Articles 18 (3) and 19 (3) sub-paragraphs (a) and (b). As it presently stands, there are 13 countries around the world that execute secularists and nonbelievers such as atheists and agnostics, along with many others that prescribe imprisonment and issue fines to those who do not share the majority religious view of the state.
Advocates of blasphemy laws and their offshoots argue that these laws protect the harmony of pluralistic societies. As demonstrated by a number of conclusive studies (available upon request), however, the enforcement of blasphemy laws and their offshoots deepens divisions between religious groups and creates unnecessary civil unrest, also infringing egregiously upon the basic human right not to be forced to follow any particular religion.
Furthermore, these blasphemy laws are often utilized in a discriminatory and dictatorial manner, and have bestowed upon inhumane leaders the legal means by which these rulers are able to persecute both religious minorities and non-religious groups alike, as well as to silence political dissidents.
We thank you for your time and hope that you give this matter the attention that it deserves, on behalf of millions of human beings globally.
Human Rights for Atheists, Agnostics and Secularists
Please consider signing the petition and circulating it to your networks so that we can create a bigger groundswell of support. There are thousands of unfortunate people globally suffering right now because of these brutal and inhumane laws, such as Saudi apostate blogger Raif Badawi, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for his disbelief in Islam:
— Religion and History (@AcharyaS) May 10, 2014
He was kind enough to follow my Twitter account immediately: It’s good people like the sparkly-eyed family man Raif who suffer the most from these archaic and inhumane laws. Those of us who are protected by a Constitution like that of the United States, with its First Amendment free-speech and free-expression provision, need to help our freethinking brothers and sisters in other lands. Thank you. Frank Zindler, past president of American Atheists, comments:
What is called “blasphemy” more often than not is simply the truth about the world. People should not be punished for speaking the truth.
— Michael Sherlock (@sherlockmichael) May 10, 2014
How’s this for a coalition of awesomeness?
Retweet by Sam Harris:
— Michael Sherlock (@sherlockmichael) May 12, 2014
Human Rights Over Human Beliefs. Promotion ad for the International petition to United Nations to stop blasphemy… http://t.co/GHUDeIP1Vb
— Sanal Edamaruku (@SanalEdamaruku) May 17, 2014
The “Atheist Muslim” weighs in.
Blasphemy: a victimless crime, literally. Sign this petition for the freedom to call out bad ideas: https://t.co/mPyvpLRT72
— Ali A. Rizvi (@aliamjadrizvi) May 20, 2014
Ex-Muslim Iranian-British activist Maryam Namazie has signed and shared our petition!
Ex-Muslim author and Islam critic Dr. Ali Sina has signed and shared our petition!
Here are Ms. Hassan’s comments on the petition:
People have the absolute right to their beliefs. Abolish blasphemy laws everywhere.
Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah has signed onto our effort!
— Religion and History (@AcharyaS) June 2, 2014
Nonbelievers face persecution in numerous countries
Blasphemy laws around the world
These maps show where you can still go to jail for apostasy or blasphemy
Human Rights for Atheists, Agnostics and Secularists
Canadian Atheist: Abolish Blasphemy Laws
Criticizing Islam Becomes ‘Incitement to Imminent Violence’
Five Buddhist monks defrocked and remanded for religious offence
Coptic teacher gets 6 months in jail for ‘insulting Islam’