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Atheist Discrimination Recognized in U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s Annual Report

American Humanist Association applauds inclusion of atheists and other nonbelievers

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brian Magee, bmagee@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 ext. 105

(Washington, DC, May 1, 2013)— As the member of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable representing nontheistic belief communities, the American Humanist Association applauds the recognition of atheist discrimination in the 2013 Annual Report of The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released yesterday. The American Humanist Association interacted regularly with USCIRF commissioners in providing information used in their report.

The report outlines the state of religious freedom in 29 countries, the most expansive report ever issued by the commission. The AHA submitted a report last year with the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and other secular groups to USCIRF and the U.S. Department of State's Office of International Religious Freedom outlining examples of international discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists and the non-religious, such as the case of Alber Saber of Egypt, who denied the existence of god and sentenced to three years in prison.

“The U.S. government is beginning to pay attention to all forms of religious discrimination around the world, including actions against the non-religious,” said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “We are pleased that USCIRF is raising awareness that religious freedom includes standing up for nonbelievers.”

The report places each country in one of three categories: Tier 1, those recommended to be labeled as “countries of particular concern”; Tier 2, a “watch list”; and the third category is for those that remain. The USCIRF was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Operating separately from the State Department, it makes recommendations on items related to international religious freedom to the president, the secretary of state and Congress.

Leaders of the American Humanist Association will participate in a protest tomorrow, May 2, outside the Embassy of Bangladesh in Washington, DC to raise awareness of the persecution of several atheist bloggers who have been arrested due to the country’s strict blasphemy laws.

The official statement on the report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom can be found here.

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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 160 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

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