Coming from countries where religious restrictions are common, many atheist refugees are currently seeking life without persecution for their non-belief within German borders.
Bangladeshi Flees After Receiving Death Threats
Such is the case of Mahmudul Haque Munshi, a Bangladeshi who fled to Germany in 2015 after finding his name on a hit list in his native country. Many of his closest friends have already been murdered, giving him good reason to fear these death threats. After receiving 4,500 death threats in a single day on Facebook, Munshi decided to flee his homeland. Clearly, it was unsafe for him to remain in Bangladesh, so he made the journey to Germany via Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Munshi attracted attention after founding the Shahbag movement, which sought to punish people who were responsible for war crimes when Bangladesh fought Pakistan for independence in 1971.
Atheist Refugee Relief Association
Munshi is one of 37 atheist refugees currently supported by the Atheist Refugee Relief association. The number of individuals who identify as atheist and seek refugee support continues to climb on a day to day basis.
Troubles From Home Travel With Refugees
Sadly, the troubles that atheist refugees face at home don’t necessarily end when they reach Germany. Mahmudul Haque Munshi himself is now on a global hit list, a list that targets refugees around the world who have left Bangladesh.
Also, many women from Muslim countries continue to be threatened for not wearing their headscarves while in Germany. Spontaneous nasty death threats continue from some members of the Muslim community, even after they believe themselves to be safer in Germany.
The Atheist Struggle For Recognition
There has always been a struggle to recognize atheists as members of society. Atheists are still a vast minority around the world, making it difficult to create a unified struggle for their rights. But, the number of atheists around the world represent a growing population of individuals – many of whom will become the next set of refugees to arrive in Western nations.
There is also very little progress in lobbying for the rights of Ex-Muslims as atheists in Germany at the moment. Atheism does not automatically grant oneself refugee status since it does not necessarily qualify as a religion. Individuals who are part of the community aren’t necessarily recognized as being a part of a specific religious sect.
There are many reasons behind the struggle for recognition: It is difficult to define atheism, some people assume atheism is evil, while many people are skeptical or uncertain as to why the community of atheists is under threat at all.
The right to choose freedom of religion or lack of religion should be recognized as a vital condition of a mature democracy. Whether one chooses to adopt a faith, leave one faith and adopt another faith, or have no faith at all? We need to agree on fundamental human rights and have the relevant policies in place while creating active civic-minded conversation allowing disagreements in space for all, to advance dynamic inspiring education for a shared future.