Most of us in the West — myself included — take our rights and freedoms very much for granted. This is a mistake. We should celebrate every day. And here’s a stark reminder from the Middle East. The latest collection of royal decrees from the rulers of Saudi Arabia now declare that atheists are terrorists.
At some point in our future I still have to believe that the majority of humanity will come to realize that morality, compassion, altruism, kindness are basic human traits — they come to be despite religion, not because of it. At that point, perhaps, more nations will remove the shackles of religious dogma that constrain their citizens and join in the celebration of truly secular and global human rights: freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom to think, freedom to dance, freedom to drive, freedom to joke, freedom to be spiritual but not religious. And, of course those who desire to still believe in whatever they wish, should be free to do so.
From the Independent:
Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.
In a string of royal decrees and an overarching new piece of legislation to deal with terrorism generally, the Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could “harm public order”.
The new laws have largely been brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis travelling to take part in the civil war in Syria, who have previously returned with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.
To that end, King Abdullah issued Royal Decree 44, which criminalises “participating in hostilities outside the kingdom” with prison sentences of between three and 20 years, Human Rights Watch said.
Yet last month further regulations were issued by the Saudi interior ministry, identifying a broad list of groups which the government considers to be terrorist organisations – including the Muslim Brotherhood.
Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”.
Read the entire article here.