Iraqi Atheists Arrested for Atheism

Al-Monitor reported on the arrests sent out for Iraqis charged with the crime of atheism.

The charges come through the Dhi Qar province Garraf district judiciary. Atheism as a crime gained lots of social media attention. Some argue this is against the rights of the Iraqis.

The Iraqi Constitution guarantees freedom of belief and expression. Others see this as a political move. The chief Garraf district judge, Dhidan al-Ekili, charged atheist Iraqis.

al-Ekili said, “[They were] holding seminars during social gatherings” to promote and popularize atheism. Four of these people were arrested on March 11.

The local administration set the intelligence agencies to crackdown on atheism. al-Ekili notes this is within the Iraqi Penal Code. At the same time, the Iraqi Constitution permits freedom of belief and intellectual views.

Legal and political analyst Ali Jaber al-Tamimi had different views. He said, “There aren’t any articles in the Iraqi Penal Code that provide for a direct punishment for atheism, nor are there any special laws on punishments against atheists.”

Desecrations of religions is different. But not the simple holding of the belief of the non-existence of God.

The Iraqi Constitution allows “freedom of belief and intellectual views.” Social media critics were harsh on the authorities.

Ahmad Wahid, a stand-up comedian, ridiculed self-professed atheists who do not understand atheism.

Iraqi newspapers assert these atheists come from failed reigns. The failure of the Islamic ruling parties. Corruption as an additive factor.

Gallup reports 88% of Iraqis are religious circa 2012. It is in the top 10 for religiosity in the world. Myths exist about atheism, misunderstandings too.

Clerics associate secularism and atheism as a lump. One category merged together. Others see liberalism and communism as anti-religion.

They become equated with atheism. Shiite cleric Amer al-Kufaishi urged resistance to these ideas. Because they promote anti-religion.

Some Islamic parties rule since March 2003. Safaa Khalaf, a reporter, said, “The idea of atheism in Iraq is rooted in political pressure and its economic and social ramifications.”

Atheism, according to Khalaf, becomes a reaction to political Islam. Political Islam’s inability to solve people’s problems. Modern communication helps with this.

Social media as one reflection, where criticism happened.

Khalaf, explained further, “Secularism was considered an adversary of religious faith.” Secularism, as a term, is gone from political circulation.

The Iraqi Communist Party replaced the term with “civility.”

“Inaccurate and misused labels are being used to describe incorrect behaviors by the political authority in light of the security mentality prevalent in both society and state,” Khalaf stated.

Continuing, “The authorities are comfortable with this illiteracy because it immensely aids them in oppressing any opposed view, especially if it challenges religion, clerics or practices that interfere with public freedoms.”

Iraqi leaders are suspicious of atheism. Some fight against it. Further, others see it as an assault on the Islamic parties.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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