Free Albaz and Abedini

Two Men Imprisoned for Thoughts

I want to share two related stories today.  These stories are about men named Abdel Aziz Mohamed Albaz and Saeed Abedini.  The first of these men is an atheist, the latter a Christian Pastor.  Yet they both have something in common right now—they are both in jail for their religious/lack of religious views, Albaz in Kuwait and Abedini in Iran.

Picture from: www.change.org

Picture from: www.change.org

Abdel Aziz Mohamed Albaz is an Egyptian secular blogger.  He has been in a Kuwaiti jail for the last two weeks on charges of blasphemy.  Mr. Albaz has not committed any crime.  He has not killed anyone, he has not stolen anything, he hasn’t done anything that any reasonable person would consider a criminal offense.  The only thing that he has done is blog about secular issues.  We do not yet know how his story will end and have little information about the greater details of his plight.

Picture from: http://aclj.org/

Picture from: http://aclj.org/

Saeed Abedini has a somewhat different story.  He has been in an Iranian prison for the last three months.  He has been beaten.  He has a trial set for Jan.21 and faces execution for his crime of “converting to Christianity”—in the year 2000.  Abedini is a U.S. citizen who was in Iran to work with orphanages.  He did get in some trouble in 2009 while in Iran for trying to set up some “underground churches”. However, that is not mentioned in the charges filed against him.  In fact, it would seem that “trouble” has nothing at all to do with what is happening to him now.  Also shocking is that his lawyer only received the court documents and official charges this week–for a death penalty trial!  The short version is that he is on trial for his life because he is a Christian.  This is absurd.

The story of Abedini has received significant press on various Christian websites.  As he is a U.S. citizen, the State Department has even offered a statement.  The American Center for Law and Justice has a petition on it site as well updated information on this story.  The only good news for Abedini is that it seems that there is some high level government acknowledgement on his plight.  Though let’s be honest, “acknowledgment” is a far cry from “action”.

The same cannot be said for Albaz.  If you Google his name, most of the sites that come up are other atheist blogs, a Facebook page, and a petition.  There is currently almost no pressure from anywhere to help him out.  As of now, his Facebook page has only 41 likes.  The petition has only 770 signees.  It is great to see the outpouring of support for Mr. Abedini.  We need to do a whole heck of lot more for Mr. Albaz.

Both men need help.  No one should imprisoned for their thoughts.  Certainly, no one should face death.

Blasphemy laws are the taking away of a basic human right—free thought.  These men are both imprisoned—and one is about to start a trial where his life is on the line—for what they believe.  This is not acceptable.  Sadly, this type of thing occurs in many places across the Islamic world.  It is stories like these that illustrate why so many atheists are also anti-theists.  When religion—regardless of the religion– is a dominant player in a State, history has shown us that the outcome is often terrible for non-believers.

There is no place in the 21st century for behavior that apes the 13th century.

Please take action to help these two men.

Visit the pages listed above and sign them.

Please call your local Congressperson and Senator and ask them to help.  This only takes a few minutes.  Andy Hall at Laughing in Purgatory has a video up on his site of him making all three phone calls…the video is less than ten minutes long.  Please find 10 minutes today to make those calls.

Please (and I never ask this) if you agree, please share this story on every social media outlet that you use.  Tweet it, reddit it, Facebook it, Stumble it, etc.  Please help me to get the word out.

No one should be imprisoned for their religious or lack of religious beliefs.  Certainly no one’s life should be on the line starting this Monday.

You can find your U.S. Senators’ contact info here

You can find your U.S. Congressperson’s contact info here

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-John

If you have a blog please feel free to promote it on my “Promote Your Blog” page above.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @logicalbeing

If you would like to share your story of how you became an atheist, please do that on my “Share your Atheism Story” forum.  Our stories may help to encourage others with similar feelings to know that life is more than just okay without god(s).

If you have not yet checked out Alltop.com’s Atheism Blogs….what are you waiting for?

 

6 thoughts on “Free Albaz and Abedini

  1. Najat Kessler from Cambridge, MA, United States

    Thank YOU so much for taking the time to write about our friend BenBaz! It is much appreciated and it is only with help from everyone who understand the value of freedom that we humans will be able to make our world a better place.
    Thank YOU also for allowing us to post our plea for help below!

    Please Sign FreeBenBaz petition: http://tinyurl.com/BenBazPetition

    Abdul Aziz Mohamed El Baz
    Egyptian, living and working in Kuwait
    Born on 1985
    Bachelor Degree in commerce Division of the English language
    Aziz's Arabic blog: http://www.benbaz.info/

    Aziz was detained by police in Kuwait for on 31- December-2012, he was picked up Aziz from his work place and thrown to jail. He is accused of blasphemy. The police has confiscated Aziz phone and other belongings. They are working to speed up a case against him.

    Hearing has been scheduled for February 28, 2013

    Aziz is in jail awaiting trial for thinking, for peacefully writing his views and for speaking up to raise awareness and for sharing what he learns from scientific discoveries. He is in prison for having a blog where he writes and shares his contributions to an internet tv show.

    Aziz is in jail for his atheistic, humanistic, and secular views.

    We need your help to get the words out, gather support to free this peaceful atheist humanist activist

    Sign FreeBenBaz petition: http://tinyurl.com/BenBazPetition

    Join FreeBenBaz group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FreeBenBaz/

    Like FreeBenBaz community page on Facebook: https://www.tinyurl.com/FreeBenBaz

    Tweet hastag: #FreeBenBaz

    If you are in New York, January 20, at 12pm, Join protest in front of Kuwait Embassy: https://www.facebook.com/events/553611607984710/

    Please help us by making videos, writing in your blogs, writing articles, calling the media, calling your representatives, etc,
    Our goal is to reach 5,000 signatures by the end of this weekend and to make this a public cause!

    Help us free BenBaz please!

    Thank YOU!

    Reply
  2. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

    I hate to say it, but stories like this, I don't really have a lot of sympathy for. Like it or not, these people live in countries where such things are illegal. You can argue whether or not you want it to be illegal all you want, it won't change the fact that it is currently illegal in these countries and these people are violating the law, usually knowingly. It's really sad that so many western atheists think the rights that we enjoy automatically ought to apply to everywhere else on the planet.

    They don't. People need to follow the laws of the land they live in or be prepared to pay the consequences thereof. If they don't like it, they can either work to change the laws or they can go elsewhere.
    My recent post Horror Show Sunday: The Rules

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Cephus—I think that is the point. Many are trying to work on changing those laws, both from within and from without, with post like mine or Andy’s. The problem with your argument is the nature of this cause. When the crime is “blasphemy” then you are basically being accused of thought and speech. How are people supposed to work to change type of system from within when talking about the issue is a crime? They cannot. That is why it is, at least in my opinion, for people on the outside to exert pressure on governments in times like this. We see it all the time–heck it is a basic part of foreign policy. I suppose if you reject the notion that free speech/thought are not a basic human right or some type of objective ethic that applies everywhere, then your case would be a bit a stronger. However, if you think that the freedom to think what you want and to speak about that is at least, on this planet, a fundamental human right, I don’t see how you cannot look at this situation, feel some sympathy, particularly for the people who are doing what you said and are trying to change it, and want to make some small effort to help change that. The fact that it is “illegal” there is exactly the problem that all parties in this discussion are attempting to address. It can’t also be the reason to not do anything.

      Reply
      1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

        I'm entirely fine with people trying to change the laws through a set of legal processes set up by the society. I am not fine with people expecting to get out of paying the penalties for laws they don't like but broke anyhow. It is a fact that in many of these backwards countries, there are thought crimes. Freedom of speech simply is not a universal right, no matter how much people might wish it was. People certainly can fight against it, but they may end up in prison or worse for doing so. Civil disobedience does not give one freedom from consequences.

        Besides, I don't acknowledge that there are any fundamental human rights, rights are the things that each society grants to itself. If a society wants to change, it must be the people who rise up and change things, it must be imposed from within, not from without. Otherwise, they've lost the ability to determine their own destiny on a societal level.

        I always find it funny that it's only the people who represent a minuscule minority of thought, who are only willing to stand on the street corner and talk, who are the ones who get talked about the most, not the revolutionaries, the ones who rally supporters to their cause, who are willing to take up arms and fight for what they believe in and die if necessary. Freedom doesn't come from pounding on a keyboard but from the willingness to overthrow governments.
        My recent post Guest Post: Matt Dillahunty Doesn’t Understand what Objectivity Is

        Reply

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