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International – Humanists persecuted

February 2016

Global persecution of humanists, atheists and the non-religious, rose over 2015, a report has found.

The 2015 Freedom of thought report, produced by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) with input from the British Humanist Association (BHA), found that Islamist targeting of the non-religious has risen, along with persecution of minority religions in many countries.

It highlighted cases, such as the ongoing barbarity of Islamic State and the murders of humanist bloggers in Bangladesh, along with lesser known cases like that of Ashraf Fayadh in Saudi Arabia and Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir in Mauritania, both sentenced to death for apostasy.

In a foreword to the report, Bonya Ahmed, one of the bloggers who survived an attack, warned that ‘once a country silences and intimidates its intellectuals and freethinkers, a vicious cycle of terror and extremism becomes inevitable from which it could take many, many years to revert’.

Andrew Copson, BHA chief executive, said, ‘Our ongoing concern is that, with jihadist extremism setting the bar very high for brutality, it is creating a space for this deepening, noxious hatred against the non-religious in a growing number of countries, primarily Islamic states’.