Atheists and Gays In Islamic Countries: Ugly Deaths

In western countries like the United States we take for granted concepts like freedom of speech and religion and, in recent years, tolerance for the idea that gay people should be treated like everyone else.  In these societies it’s easy to forget that in much of the world the very opposite is true.  In Russia, for example, there is a startling return to the totalitarianism of the former Soviet Union and dissent is punished severely, and it is now illegal in that country to advocate homosexuality (and practicing it can get you killed, while your killer will walk away whistling).  

Moscow Anti-Gay Pride Riot

In Islam-dominated countries Muslims are not allowed free speech, and Muslims who leave their faith (and particularly those who become nonbelievers) are subject to death.  Thirteen of these countries sanction execution for blasphemy: Afghanistan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.  I have written on this topic before [see “Muslim Atheist”], but in this post I want to look at current developments on Islamic treatment of both atheists and gays.

1.  Atheists

While the Qur'an claims that Allah demands that apostates be severely punished, it doesn't specify the punishment. Most, though certainly not all, of the religion's scholars decree that death is the appropriate choice. But most apostates in the Muslim world who suffer death aren't killed by the state enforcing laws like those in the thirteen countries above, but by their outraged family and neighbors or by religious authorities self-acting as Thought Police.

Muslims who leave Islam for another religion (say, Christianity) can and have been condemned to death.  In Saudi Arabia the penalty for conversion to Christianity is beheading.  To leave Islam for no religion might strike neighbors as even greater madness. It's one thing to tell your neighbors that they are wasting much of their lives due to an ancient disagreement as to which religion is the right one, and another to state that 90% of the population of the entire planet has this same unfortunate delusion. 

On January 14, 2014, in Bangladesh two atheist bloggers were brutally attacked and beaten by Islamic fundamentalists, both surviving the attempt only to have one of them hacked to death a month later.  

Avijit Roy

When prominent Bagladeshi author/blogger Avijit Roy published an anti-religious book entitled “The Virus of Faith” he was so hounded that he fled to the United States and wrote about his persecution in an article in Free Inquiry (the leading freethinker magazine in the USA); see In February of this year he and his wife returned to Bangladesh to attend a book fair, and they were dragged from a bicycle rickshaw and hacked at with machetes, killing Roy and critically wounding his wife.

In 2012 a Saudi man named Raif Badawi was arrested for insulting Islam on his website, tried and found guilty of apostasy and originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.  When he appealed to the Saudi Supreme Court last year his sentence was increased to ten years and 1000 lashes, plus a fine.  The first 50 lashes were administered on January 9th of this year, and damn near killed him, causing further lashes to be postponed until he was healthy enough to stand them.  His wife asserts that further lashes will kill him, and this harsh punishment has caused an international outcry, which the Saudis have so far ignored.

ISIS has routinely been beheading or shooting those with religious beliefs contrary to its stern view of Islam, and dumping the bodies in mass graves.

2.  Gays

Type “gay executions” into Google and then watch endless videos on YouTube and other websites of gays being shot, thrown from buildings, hung, buried alive, or beheaded.

August 6, 2014.  Two gay Iranian men, Abdullah Ghavami Chahzanjiru and Salman Ghanbari Chahzanjiri, were hanged for their sexual orientation. Their deaths are part of a wave of executions in Iran, with more than 400 in the first half of 2014 alone, according to the NGO Iran Human Rights.  In July of last year a Saudi Arabian man has been sentenced to three years in jail and 450 lashes after he was caught using Twitter to arrange dates with other men.

ISIS has been particularly hard on those it suspects of homosexual behavior.  Recently the execution style of choice for gay men has been tossing them, blindfolded, off buildings into a crowd below.  If the fall doesn’t kill the offender, the crowd, including children, will enthusiastically kick him to death.

3. Conclusion

If you are an atheist or LGBT stay out of Muslim countries (and Russia), and if you are already a Muslim in such countries be a good one and keep your thoughts to yourself and your behavior strictly heterosexual within a good Muslim marriage.  That’s how they want you to behave, and you damn well better do it.

A Guide to the Best of My Blog, April 29, 2013;


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