The 13 countries where being an atheist is punishable by death

Around the world, a number of countries continue to criminalise atheists and humanists, with 13 having laws which enable them to impose the death penalty

By Siobhan Fenton | 30 March 2016
The Independent

Atheism is on the rise, but discrimination continues around the world. (Photo: Getty Images)

It’s often said that the world is becoming an increasingly secular place. Just last week David Cameron sparked backlash when he used his Easter message to describe the UK as “a Christian country”. Critics pointed out that just 30 per cent of people in the UK describe themselves as religious, making Britain one of the least religious countries in the world. 53 per cent of people say they have no faith, while 13 per cent claim they are committed atheists.

However, despite the prevalance of atheism and humanism in the UK, many may be surprised to know that having no faith can be a life or death matter around the world. In thirteen countries, you can be sentenced to death for not having a faith:

1. Afghanistan

2. Iran

3. Malaysia

4. Maldives

5. Mauritania

6. Nigeria

7. Pakistan

8. Qatar

9. Saudi Arabia

10. Somalia

11. Sudan

12. United Arab Emirates

13. Yemen

In a number of other countries, the death penalty is not a formal punishment on statute books but atheists and humanists have been murdered by religious extremists on account of their beliefs.

In countries including India and Bangladesh, police have been accused of condoning these murders by failing to investigate them properly. At least three atheist bloggers have been hacked to death in Bangladesh after penning posts advocating that scientific proof should inform opinion above religious beliefs.

Animated map shows how religion spread around the world

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  1. The UK most certainly is a Christian country. There is no separation of church and state. The Head of government is the head of the Church of England. The high level clerics of the church have special powers and sit in the House Of Lords. Like it or not that's the way it is.

  2. All religions are a mental and social disease.
    Free spirits are invited to do everything in their power to ensure the Godbotherers take their hellish lives elsewhere.

  3. Just a hangover from when the church and state used to share the spoils David. They keep perpetuating their offices because they are deluded. When its recognised that this indoctrination is abuse things will change for the better


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