Since opening an actual office in 2014, the Atheism Association in Turkey has given away soup to the homeless and called for the government to stop automatically designating every newborn child as “Muslim” on their birth certificates. They’ve also suffered setbacks that included their website being blocked by authorities and having to install a “panic button,” directly connected to the Istanbul police, due to death threats.
It’s been an uphill climb for the group in a nation where 99% of the population is Muslim… (though being declared Muslim from birth certainly inflates that number).
And now the group has been forced to shut down for good after outside pressure made the group’s continued existence untenable.
The Atheism Association was founded in 2014 and has 170 members. Only 12 of them attended the association’s general board meeting on Sunday after the Islamist newspaper Yeni Akit gave details of the meeting beforehand and called, Barbaros Şansal, Turkish fashion designer and one of the members of the organisation, an enemy of Turkey and a person who insults Islam.
Zeynep Ayça, the president of the Atheism Association said their members had stopped sending their membership fees and the financial burden of the organisation had to be shouldered by a few people.
It was too risky to join and the members who were willing to have their names associated with the group were routinely targeted as blasphemers. For casual members, it just wasn’t worth it anymore.
There’s no freedom of religion when a minority group is pressured out of existence. Yet this is an ostensibly secular nation. The 2018 Freedom of Thought Report noted that the nation is especially awful about religious freedom when it comes to freedom of expression and legal matters — the two main reasons the Atheism Association will be shutting down.
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Brian for the link)