Quba Mosque

Quba Mosque in Saudi Arabia by Basheer Olakara [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], from Flickr

The classification comes as no surprise since Saudi Arabia classifies Atheists as terrorists.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has published a list of best and worst nations for atheists. The IHEU supports humanists who are constantly at risk of persecution. The current list constitutes its seventh edition.

The IHEU release is titled Freedom of Thought Report, and it was presented to the United Nations General Assembly situated in New York City. The seventh report is unique in the sense that it is the maiden time the report contains a proper ranking for every world nation. The countries are ranked as per their discrimination against the non-religious, atheists, and humanists.

As per the IHEU report, atheists are safest in Belgium and in The Netherlands. Taiwan comes third. In fourth place are four countries- Sao Tome and Principe, Nauru, Japan, and France. It is to be noted that Ireland dipped further into 115th place. According to Jane Donnelly of Atheist Ireland, the non-religious face serious discrimination even though they constitute the second biggest societal group after Roman Catholics. The human rights officer pointed out that the Constitution of Ireland starts by invoking God and Catholic social mores are present in multiple Irish laws. Many other countries in the past have chastised Ireland for treading on atheists' human rights, minority faith members, and agnostics.

Saudi Arabia occupies the last position at the other end of the scale. Atheists are most in danger in Saudi Arabia. Just above Saudi Arabia are four countries: Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Maldives. In the IHEU report, Saudi Arabia came last as the country has promulgated a law in 2014 which describes atheist thought as a kind of terrorism. The country also has come under heavy fire for prosecuting liberal campaigners and activists.

For some, the presence of Malaysia at the tail end of the list may come as a surprise. This is as the country has witnessed anti-atheist rhetoric during the last few years. Andrew Copson, the IHEU President, pointed out that this kind of report is the first in the world and the publication shows with accuracy and authority the discrimination suffered by individuals all around the world due to their non-religious beliefs. The report is clearly a dark one, where significant discrimination is endured by non-religious colleagues and friends all over the globe. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the subject of Freedom of Religion or Belief, has praised The Freedom of Thought Report, saying it has become an invaluable tool for policymakers.

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