Where’s the monument to victims of religion?

by | June 7, 2015

The devastatingly horrible news has come for blogger Raif Badawi and his family that the Saudi supreme court has upheld the guilty verdict against him, and confirmed punishment of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison, for the crime of “insulting Islam”.

And yet, the Canadian government considers Saudi Arabia to be an ally, happily supplying billions of dollars worth of arms to the Saudi government, apparently without any restrictions or assurances that the equipment won’t be used against the Saudi people.

This is a government that wants to show its commitment to human rights by building a monument to honour the “victims of communism.” Perhaps we need a monument to honour the victims of religion –

For Islam:

  • three bloggers murdered this year in Bangladesh: Ananta Bijoy Das, Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman
  • Raif Badawi and his lawyer, Walid Abulkhair imprisoned for championing freedom of speech
  • Malala Yousafzai shot in the face and hundreds of girls in Nigeria kidnapped by Islamic militants for for the “crime” of being educated while female
  • countless others in exile, such as Salman Rushdi, and Taslima Nasrin

And closer to home, we should also remember the victims of Christianity – those first nations children who were abused and tormented in church-run residential schools.

13 thoughts on “Where’s the monument to victims of religion?

    1. Theo Bromine Post author

      I’ve also added a link to that in the body of the post – thanks.

      BTW, here’s the party platform from the Labour Progressive Party (Canadian Communists) from the 1930s (my grandfather was a candidate):

      *Guaranteed Jobs for All
      *Vacations with Pay
      *Good Homes for All
      *Education for All
      *Stop Racial Discrimination

      So I guess a lot of Canadians are victims of communism these days…

  1. Tim Underwood

    Victims of Religion


    Way too many names!

  2. Muhammad al-Hakeem

    Well, have you written anything in solidarity with Islamist (and secular/liberal) victims of such Western-backed juntas as in Egypt? And since here religion has also been co-opted to a great extent by the state to justify their persecution and muzzling political speech, would you count them as victims of religion, too?

    1. Theo Bromine Post author

      Muhammad: I stand opposed to persecution of all people on the basis of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. However, I’m not sure how you are defining Islamist; most definitions I have seen indicate that this approach is inherently discriminatory on the basis of religion. I contend that in issues where fundamental human rights are in opposition to religious freedom, the decision needs to be in favour of human rights. Freedom of religion does not mean freedom to justify behaviour on the basis that it is based on religion.

      With respect to your statement that “religion has also been co-opted to a great extent by the state to justify their persecution and muzzling political speech”, I’m not entirely sure what you are referring to – could you please provide an example.

        1. Indi

          > I did a search for Egypt on your site. I think you should follow Egypt more closely and not just for news about its atheists.

          I’m sorry, I just had to clarify this. ^_^;

          You think that CANADIAN ATHEIST… should have more focus on non-atheist Egyptians?

          I’m sure our editorial department will take that suggestion into consideration. ^_^;

          1. Muhammad al-Hakeem

            Actually, yes, I thought modern-day atheists cared about all humanity and all purported “victims of religion,” and not just the ones of the same world view as them (as has also been confirmed by Theo Bromine’s latest counter questions to me).

            Many thanks for dispelling this misconception of mine about your ilk.

          2. Theo Bromine Post author

            I do not speak for all atheists, of course. My view is that people should be free to believe whatever they want, and will defend their right to do so. On that basis, I condemn any actions taken by governments or other institutions to suppress beliefs, ideas, and discussions. However, there are actions and practices that I will categorically condemn, on the basis that they violate basic human rights, whether these actions are motivated by Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology, any other religion I have neglected to mention, or just plain nastiness.

            As I said above, freedom of religion cannot be used to justify behaviour that is in violation of human rights just because that behaviour is religiously informed or motivated.

          3. Indi

            Nice try. ^_^; But choosing to focus on *one* persecuted minority does not mean you don’t care about all other persecuted minorities around the world.

            I can turn your little game right back around on you: I notice you’ve only mentioned Egyptian theists… but you haven’t said a single word about Aboriginal women, Central African children, Tanzanian albinos, Angolan orphans, Congolese Pygmies, or Qatari slaves. Using *your* logic, the fact that you haven’t mentioned these groups must mean you don’t care about them, thus proving you are a selfish, hateful person.

            But of course, you’re probably not a selfish, hateful person, because judging people that way is incredibly ignorant and stupid. You should be ashamed for doing it.

            Rather than trying to force us to stop focusing on the topic we have chosen to focus on in order to focus on the one you care about, why don’t you start up a blog or website devoted to it? Why pull us off *our* mission to work on yours, instead of putting your time and energy where your mouth is, and making a site dedicated to the issues you care about?

          4. Muhammad al-Hakeem

            Nice try from you, too.

            I was more specifically referring to the term “victims of religion” as it was in the title of this article, and I was intending to clarify this term in the light of the Middle East’s current affairs. My example was the co-option of religious institutions and preachers to soft-pedal the military coup and counter-revolution and sanction the massacring of the supporters of a democratically elected, civilian president whose aims run counter to those of the old guard supported by Western countries and Arabian dictatorships, as well as murdering, brutalizing, jailing, or muzzling secular/liberal activists who are likewise opposed to the junta.

            The punchline is that, using the same logic as the author of this article, Islamists can also be considered “victims of religion” in Egypt, so the term isn’t restricted to professed atheists and professed Muslims who defy religious authority in Saudi Arabia, for example.

            And to finally answer the author’s insistent questions, no, these victims aren’t being persecuted because of the illiberal, patriarchal, barbaric, sectarian beliefs they wish to impose on everyone in Egypt. Quite the contrary, the junta, again propped up by the West, Arabian monarchies, and national religious institutions, couldn’t care less about such deplorable, medieval, ultra-conservative stances (assuming they are indeed held by these Islamists), just as the West couldn’t care less about the abominable domestic human rights record of Arabian monarchies so long as they toe their line in other, more expedient respects. Coupled with the fact that secular/liberal activists and commentators, who cannot possibly be said to hold any such beliefs, are lumped in with the Islamists, owing to their opposition to military rule, this shows they aren’t targeted for their illiberal views. Savvy?

            Perhaps I should’ve made that clear from the outset.

          5. Indi

            Which brings us right back around to what I said. No one organization can *possibly* cover *all* victims of religion – let alone all persecuted minorities. Even attempting to cover them *all* dilutes and muddies your message to the point that you no longer really have a voice with any meaningful impact.

            Canadian Atheist has chosen to focus on Canadian atheists in particular, and Canadians and atheists in general – it’s kinda in our name. In doing so, we do not – despite what you tried to pretend – stop caring about other persecuted groups. We have just chosen one to focus on.

            If *you* believe that theist Egyptians suffering under the regime aren’t getting enough attention, *you* get off your ass and go out and do something about it. Don’t call *us* names because we’ve chosen a different persecuted minority to focus on than the one you personally think matters.

            Now, you may think you have some other, deeper, more nuanced concern you want to get across, but frankly you kinda blew your credibility when you waltzed onto a blog by, for, and about atheists, and made nasty and ignorant generalizations about “our ilk”. The moment you started sounding like just another one of the bigots we have to deal with every day was about the point where I decided I no longer had any interest in anything you had to say.

            In future, if you want to have a meaningful conversation with an atheist, you might want to not say bigoted stuff about them first. Savvy?

            At any rate, I can’t speak for CA or any of its writers other than myself, but I am pretty darn confident that *all* of us sympathize with the plight of *all* Egyptians – atheist or not – under that fucked up regime. And I have no doubt that all of us would agree that you don’t need to be an atheist to be a victim of religion (in fact, several writers here have talked about that, but of course focusing on Canadian issues). But *this* particular venue is for, by, and about Canadian atheists, so when we contribute here, we contribute with that in mind. The lack of mention of the general Egyptian population – or any of the numerous other persecuted groups around the world – is for that reason, not because we don’t care.

        2. Theo Bromine

          I do not know the details of the religious beliefs and practices of those who you describe as being persecuted. Before I consider if I should offer support, I have to ask: if they were in power, would they enact sanctions against blasphemy and/or apostasy and/or criticism of religion? Do they support the right of women to fully participate in all aspects of public life? Do they support the right of all adults to have consensual sexual relationships with whomever they choose?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.