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← Admitting you're an atheist while travelling in the Middle East

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by cynicaloptimistrealist

When visiting Middle Eastern countries I was always aware that admitting atheism could mean suicide. I have been in countries where for example if there was a traffic accident the compensation awarded to a Muslim would be twice what would be awarded to a Christian or a Jew and what would be awarded to a Christian or a Jew would be 3 times what it would be for a Hindu or Budhist. So it's a sliding scale, people are indoctrinated to value life on a slope descending away from Islam, so as an Atheist you are pretty much worthless.

Even in moderately Islamic societies honour killings are punished lightly and sometimes not at all, so it's not all that difficult to imagine someone using the offense taken at your rejection of their core beliefs as a successful defense for murdering you or perhaps even inventing something about you insulting their prophet. After all, you're already at the bottom of the spiritual heap.

My defence was always avoidance. If asked about religion I would feign irritation and politely but firmly point out that in my culture it was extremely rude to ask a persons religion. If they persisted I would then ask them how they would feel if I probed their personal or sexual lives. Usually this resulted in an embarrassed apology and a hasty withdrawl. I found it the easiest way out without losing face or lying. Some may regard it as a cowardly way out, but when crossing the road, do you courageously step under the oncoming bus? Or wait for it to pass? Admitting atheism in some countries is akin to courageously stepping under that bus!!

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 20:55:19 UTC | #937083