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← Atheism and Human Rights Abuses in Africa

Atheism and Human Rights Abuses in Africa - Comments

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 1 by rod-the-farmer

What would be the penalty imposed by countries which do formally state that non-believers have the same rights, on countries which refuse to make that same statement ? How many would have the courage to point at those countries for refusing to grant non-believers the same rights as all other citizens ? Perhaps an issue worthy of poking at our various governments.

Thu, 31 May 2012 13:56:41 UTC | #944747

Jay G's Avatar Comment 2 by Jay G

I am not in sympathy with any attempt to limit the rights of a nation to rule itself.

Thu, 31 May 2012 15:13:09 UTC | #944759

CHEAFRO's Avatar Comment 3 by CHEAFRO

i am African Agnostic Atheist i dont know which part of Africa the article is talking about. Before the arrival of Europeans in Africa we had our own Gods and tribal religions and they are still practiced in southern Africa. In southern Africa Christians are a majority but "christians" still respect and participate in traditional African religious ceremonies ... i think Africans have a very tolerant culture ( the attacks on gay people are influenced by islam and christianity).The traditional tribal religions dont try to convert outsiders or to fight people who dont agree with them and the most important difference: they send messages to the "God" but they dont make claims about "secret dialogues". I also want to Point out that the first president of namibia was not a christian in a country with 80% christians and it was never an issue and there are many young educated africans who are non believers. If you go to namibia on sunday you will find more people at home than in churches and some people who call themselves christians think that the "Born-again" christians who take the bible seriously are the biggest joke on the planet. When we speak about Africa let us remember that it is a continent with different languages, cultures,religions and peoples. I think it is better to use FACTS and real life example "like the lesbians who are raped in South Africa". Everything in the article applies to Freethinker in US, UK too and i cant remember any African leader openly saying " Atheists are not true patriots"

Thu, 31 May 2012 15:23:05 UTC | #944761

btheist's Avatar Comment 4 by btheist

I am not in sympathy with any attempt to limit the rights of a nation to rule itself.

At some point in the evolution of man, the basic human rights for all inhabitants of this planet, needs to trump the geo-political boundaries of nationhood. How else can we ever stop the atrocities that happen. A nation's right to self-goverance should not guarantee that nation the right to to abuse it's citizens, nor allow abuse of it's citizens sactioned by laws enacted.

If anything, I would say that a failure to comply with human rights standards should be the catalyst by which the rest of the world says you have lost your right to self-governance. How that would be enforced is a topic of another discussion, but in the same way that when observing a confrontation between a bully and his/her victim, I am compelled to intercede, either directly (preferably in a non-violent way) or by alerting the authprities, the world at large needs feel compelled to intercede on behalf of those who can't defend themselves.

I realize that this may seem a naive and idealistic viewpoint, but nonetheless, I believe (or at least hope) there will come a time when the collective of humanity will stand up and say enough is enough, this insanity must end.

The only way that is going to happen is if we stop assuming nations have the undisputed right to self-governance. They don't nor should they.

Thu, 31 May 2012 17:57:10 UTC | #944790

Roedy's Avatar Comment 5 by Roedy

Here in Canada a Catholic school board is refusing to co-operate with non-bullying programs. They believe that children suspected of being gay should be bullied, and that adult homosexuals should be persecuted and they love to quote their bible where it says homosexuals should properly be killed and painfully.

This behaviour is considered protected by freedom of religion, though murder itself is often punished. Some people are saying the government should stop funding Catholic schools if they don't desist. But no one is willing to prosecute this behaviour as criminal.

What if the tables were turned? What if gays started advocating persecuting Catholics, denying them the right to marry, firing them, encouraging children to bully their kids, beating them up and even killing them? I can't see anyone putting up with that for two seconds.

If Nazis were doing this to Jews, we would step in and put a stop to it.

This is a big problem. My friends have been beaten up and killed. Over a period of three years when I was most active in gay lib I received an average of 3 death threats a day and 350 abusive calls a day from these loons. Teens are frequently driven to suicide by this harassment. . The Catholics get away with this, and rampant child rape, for the same reason -- tradition.

Thu, 31 May 2012 18:02:32 UTC | #944791

EvN's Avatar Comment 6 by EvN

Comment 3 by CHEAFRO

In southern Africa Christians are a majority but "christians" still respect and participate in traditional African religious ceremonies

I have noticed that christianity mixes easily with indigenous belief systems. The Zion Christian Church in South Africa is a good example. There seems to be no difficulty in believing both in Jesus Christ and the power of the ancestors. (Sorry, I cannot find a link to quality material.) Is this also your experience in Namibia? How do the non-theistic educated Namibians handle this?

In South Africa, religion is used by politicians to great effect. One week they will extol the virtues of the indigenous belief systems and the other week the Christians will be the beneficiaries of political favours.

Sickening.

i think Africans have a very tolerant culture

As you correctly point out,

When we speak about Africa let us remember that it is a continent with different languages, cultures,religions and peoples.

Let's also not generalise too much.

the attacks on gay people are influenced by islam and christianity

Oh yes. In many years of study of pre-colonial indigenous legal systems, I have not once come across a reference to gay people being treated any differently from straight people. From what I can gather, gay bashing started under the influence of Christianity - the staunch Roman Catholic president of Zimbabwe is gay basher of note.

Leo Igwe is certainly correct in saying that, in broad African context, non-theism is simply not on and that religiously based atrocities are a dime a dozen.

Thu, 31 May 2012 18:19:24 UTC | #944798

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 7 by Peter Grant

Atheism and Human Rights Abuses in Africa http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/igwe20120531

Leo Igwe is inspiring! Imagine Africa with basic human rights for everyone.

Thu, 31 May 2012 18:19:59 UTC | #944799

Jay G's Avatar Comment 8 by Jay G

Roedy:

The Nazis DID kill Jews and the world did nothing about it.

Thu, 31 May 2012 18:59:53 UTC | #944807

Daryl 's Avatar Comment 9 by Daryl

If Nazis were doing this to Jews, we would step in and put a stop to it.

Well, truth be told Roedy, the world didn't.

Comment 2 by Jay G :

I am not in sympathy with any attempt to limit the rights of a nation to rule itself.

and Jay, once you make that blanket statement, it means that North Korea has definite rights to do what they do; that Stalin's rules on forced famine (or Britain during the potato famine for that matter) is OK. That the Confederate States of America were right in permitting slavery. Freethinking doesn't mean anarchy, it doesn't mean chaos, it means intelligent reasoning and personal freedom as long as others aren't harmed.

I posted once that saying you aren't a believer was "almost" ok by many, but to use the word (shudder) atheist gets you persecuted. Freedom really is the freedom to say two plus two makes four (when the state says otherwise).

Thu, 31 May 2012 19:02:45 UTC | #944809

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 10 by Border Collie

If I were gay, and being a Texan, I probably wouldn't go anywhere unarmed, even if Rick Perry was my boyfriend.

Thu, 31 May 2012 19:30:21 UTC | #944818

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 11 by Peter Grant

I not terribly keen on Nationalism either. It gets used as way to justify the suffering of those who are not of one's own nation.

Thu, 31 May 2012 19:35:39 UTC | #944820

CHEAFRO's Avatar Comment 12 by CHEAFRO

Comment 6 by EvN :

Comment 3 by CHEAFRO

In southern Africa Christians are a majority but "christians" still respect and participate in traditional African religious ceremonies

I have noticed that christianity mixes easily with indigenous belief systems. The Zion Christian Church in South Africa is a good example. There seems to be no difficulty in believing both in Jesus Christ and the power of the ancestors. (Sorry, I cannot find a link to quality material.) Is this also your experience in Namibia? How do the non-theistic educated Namibians handle this?

In South Africa, religion is used by politicians to great effect. One week they will extol the virtues of the indigenous belief systems and the other week the Christians will be the beneficiaries of political favours.

Sickening.

i think Africans have a very tolerant culture

As you correctly point out,

When we speak about Africa let us remember that it is a continent with different languages, cultures,religions and peoples.

Let's also not generalise too much.

the attacks on gay people are influenced by islam and christianity

Oh yes. In many years of study of pre-colonial indigenous legal systems, I have not once come across a reference to gay people being treated any differently from straight people. From what I can gather, gay bashing started under the influence of Christianity - the staunch Roman Catholic president of Zimbabwe is gay basher of note.

Leo Igwe is certainly correct in saying that, in broad African context, non-theism is simply not on and that religiously based atrocities are a dime a dozen.

Thu, 31 May 2012 20:07:49 UTC | #944828

Stevezar's Avatar Comment 13 by Stevezar

Comment 2 by Jay G :

I am not in sympathy with any attempt to limit the rights of a nation to rule itself.

I agree, except my definition of what constitutes a nation is perhaps a little more restrictive. At a minimum, it should be areas that observe the http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

Areas that don't observe this should be treated as "open" areas, with something like a homesteading law available; i.e. if a "nation" (using the above definition of what constitutes one) can conquer such an area and enforce the above set of human rights for, say, 5 years, then the area could be considered annexed.

Of course, using the above definition there are probably only about a dozen or so nations currently in existence.

Thu, 31 May 2012 20:45:16 UTC | #944837

CHEAFRO's Avatar Comment 14 by CHEAFRO

politicians will use do anything to win , Leo is correct but i think it is 100 times safer to be non-theist than to be gay in countries like Uganda..... i think Leo's article would be more accurate if he wrote about Nigeria were christians are accusing children of being witches, that is not common in Southern Africa. There is an article in the namibian sun with the title "Churches kicked out of schools" if you read that you will understand why i think the situation is different in different parts of Africa.

Comment 12 by CHEAFRO :

Comment 6 by EvN :

Comment 3 by CHEAFRO

In southern Africa Christians are a majority but "christians" still respect and participate in traditional African religious ceremonies

I have noticed that christianity mixes easily with indigenous belief systems. The Zion Christian Church in South Africa is a good example. There seems to be no difficulty in believing both in Jesus Christ and the power of the ancestors. (Sorry, I cannot find a link to quality material.) Is this also your experience in Namibia? How do the non-theistic educated Namibians handle this?

In South Africa, religion is used by politicians to great effect. One week they will extol the virtues of the indigenous belief systems and the other week the Christians will be the beneficiaries of political favours.

Sickening.

i think Africans have a very tolerant culture

As you correctly point out,

When we speak about Africa let us remember that it is a continent with different languages, cultures,religions and peoples.

Let's also not generalise too much.

the attacks on gay people are influenced by islam and christianity

Oh yes. In many years of study of pre-colonial indigenous legal systems, I have not once come across a reference to gay people being treated any differently from straight people. From what I can gather, gay bashing started under the influence of Christianity - the staunch Roman Catholic president of Zimbabwe is gay basher of note.

Leo Igwe is certainly correct in saying that, in broad African context, non-theism is simply not on and that religiously based atrocities are a dime a dozen.

Thu, 31 May 2012 20:48:13 UTC | #944839

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 15 by Red Dog

Comment 8 by Jay G :

Roedy:

The Nazis DID kill Jews and the world did nothing about it.

Exactly. And that was a terrible event, one of the worst in history. And one of the reasons we remember it is to try and make sure it will never happen again. Which is why we need organizations that go beyond national boundaries.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 00:08:17 UTC | #944874

EvN's Avatar Comment 16 by EvN

Comment 14 by CHEAFRO

Leo is correct but i think it is 100 times safer to be non-theist than to be gay in countries like Uganda.....

Certainly! However, it would still not be entirely safe.

i think Leo's article would be more accurate if he wrote about Nigeria were christians are accusing children of being witches, that is not common in Southern Africa.

True. In the South we have other things to worry about.

There is an article in the namibian sun with the title "Churches kicked out of schools" if you read that you will understand why i think the situation is different in different parts of Africa.

Interesting article and congratulations to Namibia.

In South Africa, churches are invited to government schools. I was absolutely horrified to read about pastors being called to a school to "drive out the devils." This happens in rural areas quite often. Most schools in urban centres still invite pastors and preachers of all stripes to teach and officiate at functions. Even being in the "wrong" church will guarantee bullying in some schools.

We still have old people being burned as witches mostly as a result of indigenous belief systems.

Then there is the horrifying practise of ukuthwhala where young girls are kidnapped as brides for older men - this is a mostly benign religio-cultural practise that has gone completely criminal.

I'll not even talk about the killing of innocents for "muti" by "sangomas" - medicine made from body parts to magically heal all sorts of ailments. There is a "healthy" cross-border trade with Mozambique in muti. (Not all muti is made from body parts and not all sangomas are criminals.)

i think the situation is different in different parts of Africa.

The situation is most certainly different in different parts of the continent. The situation is even different between areas within a country and can even differ between districts.

However, Leo is raising consciousness and I support him wholeheartedly.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 06:01:10 UTC | #944903

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 17 by Jonathan Dore

Jay G, comments 2 and 8:

Your comment 2 is the classic Westphalian position that prevailed in Europe from 1648 to the end of WWII, and was precisely the political philosophy that prevented any other European powers doing anything about the Nazis. The whole point of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 300 years after the Peace of Westphalia, was that it made individual human rights more fundamental than the rights of states to do what they liked to the individual humans within their borders. It hasn't always worked, but it has fundamentally changed the way people (in the West at least) think about human rights, and is a major achievement that we shouldn't wish to be undermined.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 07:59:24 UTC | #944916

Anvil's Avatar Comment 18 by Anvil

Comment 2 by Jay G

I am not in sympathy with any attempt to limit the rights of a nation to rule itself.

Nations rarely rule 'themselves', Jay G. Left to their own devices they are ruled by rulers who get up to all kinds of things like killing Jews, for example.

Anvil.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 08:11:45 UTC | #944918

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 19 by strangebrew

A truism maybe...out of the mouth of babes and frustrated clergy sometimes the truth leaks out! Such a frustrated clergyman was pastor Martin Niemöller that according to wikki...

Niemöller was an anti-Communist and supported Hitler's rise to power at first. But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion, Niemöller became disillusioned

I other words they could not get there way as a religion and went moody with Adolf!

Seems ironic these words are attributed to a pissed of clergyman lamenting the intolerance against religion...

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out.

The irony being that Niemöller seems to be lamenting the fact that nobody was willing to support the church in their claims of supremacy in the national psyche. And probably on a more prosaic level because many priests including Catholics were on their way to meet their maker courtesy of the death-camps like Dachau. Seemingly they were not so keen on Nazism as the driving force...one wonders what would have occurred if they had!

Seems this was a power struggle that met implacable final solutions.

Notice in all the literature concerning these times, not many, if indeed any, clergyman ever spoke out for the homosexuals who were dying as prolifically as it could be arranged!

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 12:48:07 UTC | #944955

Roedy's Avatar Comment 20 by Roedy

Freedom of religion is at best a temporary truce. "Holy" books call for killing or harming all non-believers. If you read the Bible, and the Qur'an, you will discover Christianity technically is even worse than Islam in this regard. Jewish people imagine they are they are their god's chosen people, superior to all others, and as such privileged to ignore secular land title and just abscond with others' territory. That reminds me of a German cult and its master race nonsense.

You can't have a peaceful society when people define "good" as such wicked practices.

When I point these immoral verses out to Christians, some say, "It does not really mean that." or "Some other verse negates that." I then say, "If you don't mean it, why don't you take it out so there won't be any confusion? Surely the pope has the authority. A council decided what to include in the bible in the first place." They look at me as if I had just demanded they slit the throat of their first born son. The point is they do mean it; they just don't like to acknowledge it.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 12:59:42 UTC | #944956

Jeremy Nel's Avatar Comment 21 by Jeremy Nel

I still do not know any African country...

I support the general tenor of Igwe's article wholeheartedly, but in South Africa at least, the constitution is explicit about the right to "freedom of religion, thought, belief and opinion" as well as outlawing "advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm". Furthermore, it denies the state or individuals the right to discriminate on the basis or religion or belief. [Legally, not having a religion is the same as having a religion, with regards to these rights.]

I'm not sure about other African countries, but I'd be surprised if a few of them didn't have similar provisions too.

As I said, though, this is not to undermine the central point of the article, which is excellently made.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 13:15:43 UTC | #944959

louis14's Avatar Comment 22 by louis14

Personally I have yet to hear it proclaimed at UN, or at our regional and national human rights bodies that the rights of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are human rights. I do not want these rights to be implied or assumed as currently the case in most countries. I want them to be expressly declared as universal human rights.

And then:

Freedom of religion is often understood as freedom to profess a religion-the religion sanctioned by the state, by one’s family or community- not freedom to change one’s religion or freedom not to profess any religion at all as contained in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

While these things aren't quite the same, it seems we're part way there.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:52:09 UTC | #944986

MullyROI's Avatar Comment 23 by MullyROI

Economic development is the prelude to improved rights. Even among first world nations, Social Democratic states such as Sweden have better rights and results than say the U.S., U.K. or even my own Ireland. In order to free the world we must develop it, but for the greater part of of modern history (with perhaps some exclusions in the 60's and early 70's) Africa has merely been exploited.

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 18:30:27 UTC | #945215

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 24 by Anonymous

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Sun, 03 Jun 2012 02:20:35 UTC | #945243

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 25 by Anonymous

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Sun, 03 Jun 2012 02:30:30 UTC | #945245

Non PC Agnostic's Avatar Comment 26 by Non PC Agnostic

Comment 22 by louis14 :

Personally I have yet to hear it proclaimed at UN, or at our regional and national human rights bodies that the rights of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are human rights. I do not want these rights to be implied or assumed as currently the case in most countries. I want them to be expressly declared as universal human rights. And then:

Freedom of religion is often understood as freedom to profess a religion-the religion sanctioned by the state, by one’s family or community- not freedom to change one’s religion or freedom not to profess any religion at all as contained in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While these things aren't quite the same, it seems we're part way there.

It will be more accurate if is "Freedom TO and FROM religion."

Fri, 27 Jul 2012 10:58:09 UTC | #950154