Persecution of Atheists Highlighted During UN Human Rights Council

  • At the UN, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and Atheist Republic highlighted the precarious situation for atheists in Malaysia
  • Government ministers in Malaysia have been accused of calling for a “witch hunt” against members of the Kuala Lumpur chapter of Atheist Republic
  • IHEU director of advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey, delivered the oral statement

Atheist Republic, the largest community for atheists on Facebook, produced a joint statement with IHEU to the UN Human Rights Council yesterday. The Human Rights Council is the body responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world.

A photograph of an atheist meet-up group in Kuala Lumpur organised by the Atheist Republic went viral, prompting death threats from members of the public and threats of prosecution by police and officials.

Malaysia, atheists, Atheist Republic, secularism, humanism
Photograph of the meet-up between members of the Atheist Republic Consulate of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Last month, a Malaysian government minister said authorities would investigate a local atheist meet-up group after a picture from their meeting in Kuala Lumpur went viral.

News coverage led to many Malaysians also calling for apostates to be fired, jailed, and even beheaded.

Describing the targeting of atheists, secularists and humanists by the Malaysia government as a “witch hunt”, IHEU director of advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey, referenced Prime Minister Razak’s comments a few years ago when he described humanism and secularism as threats to Islam and the state and labelled human rights based on secularism, humanism and liberalism as “deviationist”.

O’Casey told the UN Human Rights Council:

“Advocating secularism means supporting a system where freedom of religion or belief and expression for all is respected. Humanists defend human rights and promote values grounded in a concern for all people over that of ideology or dogma. If doing these things is “deviant” then we’re proud to be “deviationists” and stand by all those in Malaysia who are doing the same thing.”

Armin Navabi, the founder of Atheist Republic, commented:

“Atheists are one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, and yet they are also one of the least defended. Atheists need to know that their countries care for and welcome them and that they are not ignored by the international community when they are being hunted down by their governments.”

“Our atheist members in Malaysia are very grateful for the attention the International Humanist and Ethical Union has brought this issue.”

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