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.
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.
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.
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