What Is It Like To Be An Atheist In Muslim States?


I am a Tunisian atheist who grew up in a muslim family and a muslim environment. But from a young age, I found my faith in science and logic greater than faith in religion and god or what I considered fairy tales told by others. But I believed in god as my ancestors did. Today, I reject superstitions and misgivings of God and religions and I believe in truth provided by science and logic.

The fact that people do not believe in god is kind of natural in developed Western countries but in Muslim countries this causes a huge conflict, especially for atheists because it may lead to several serious consequences such as rejection: If an atheist is part of a Muslim community people will judge him as someone who is trying to draw attention by being different and creating controversy or simply trying to follow trends of western and developed countries.

For instance, my personal experience is the best example for what I am talking about: When people heard of the fact that I am an atheist who suffered from immense rejection just for the simple fact that I don’t believe in “god”. Muslims pretend that they are tolerant and they accept the beliefs of others who do not share the same opinion as theirs but through the harsh experience that I went through I discovered that they are not as nice and peaceful as they say they are.

At the age of 19 I confessed my beliefs and then the pain began…

It all starts in family, the heart of society, my relatives who instead of talking directly to me, blamed my father and accused him for being too easy going with me so after kind of respecting my choice in the beginning he finally asked me to leave the house and start a new life in order to avoid more issues with my family. Here we find ourselves in front of a society that does not respect the individual and his personal choices. I found myself with no support in a huge community of intolerants, even my dearest friend who used to support me no matter what my choices are rejected me and we are not talking anymore because of “my deviation” as they say.

There is a lot of harassment against arabic atheists. The authorities do not take clear positions on the issue of freedom of belief, in some arab countries atheists are arrested and even tortured. On the other hand, the Tunisian authorities are publicly arresting Non-Fasters in Ramadan. Moreover, the Supreme Scientific Council issued a fatwa decreeing the killing of the apostate. It has become clear in recent years that the authority in Tunisia has begun a phase of official normalization with the extremist Islamic movements and some of its symbols openly calling for the killing of atheists and the atonement of some public figures from writers to politicians, and has released many symbols of jihadist Salafism during the beginning of the winds of the Arab Spring in the region.

As for my society, in its majority, although not practicing religious rites, are strongly related to the social islam. There are still serious ideas that regard everyone who has converted out of Islam to be a "sick" person who must be excluded and considered as not worth living. Thus, most cases of persecution against atheists are practiced by society in the absence of legal guarantees.

Also we have to admit that muslims are so stubborn when it comes to their beliefs: when we discuss the fact whether god exists or not it becomes a quarrel and no one can convince the other of his point of view because such subject is so delicate for them and when they have no clue on what they should say they turn to screaming and accusing us of being so narrow-minded and that the theory that we believe in is so “stupid” and there is no logic in what we are saying as if what they are telling is purely true and in reality they believe in god without having any proof of its existence because they just believe in what their ancestors are telling them how such subject is sacred. For them, anyone who questions what they believe in is personally attacking them.

At the end, it is mandatory to mention that my experience reflects the amount of pain every atheist has to pass through in religious areas especially muslim ones. Freedom is still oppressed by governments and the right of freely expressing your opinion is totally missing in many states and people suffer from harassments and even massacres in several dog-minded societies. For this reason, I am asking every one of you to share this article in order to spread compassion with this human cause.

About the author

This article was written by a Tunisian atheist who prefers to remain anonymous for his own safety. If you have had a similar experience please share it in the comments below or consider contributing your story here

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