(French) Would you like to be sentenced to death simply because you left the religion that was imposed on you as a child? Or simply because you questioned the motives of a prophet? No, of course, for a Canadian, being a freethinker, a secular humanist, an atheist or an agnostic is usually not a serious problem. This is unfortunately not the case in several countries where changing one’s religion, or having none at all, is a crime punishable by death, either officially or simply by turning a blind eye to the lynchings of so-called “blasphemers” by hordes of religious fanatics. Newspapers in these countries regularly report on these public killings, but Western countries turn a blind eye to these abominations.
Here is an example of what awaits someone who is judged a “blasphemer” by a fanatic mob: on December 3, 2021, in Pakistan, an engineer and textile mill manager, Priyantha Kumara, was tortured and then burned to death. This is only the latest in a long line of cases.
In Afghanistan, the collapse of the Afghan government has resulted, among other things, in a free-for-all for apostates. One of them fled to Pakistan with his wife. Let’s call them FT (Free Thinker) and ZS.
FT is a young Afghan man who is particularly open to the world. Despite an education in a madrasa, he literally decided to buy himself a real higher education. To do so, he improvised himself as a public works contractor in his home province and, after a few years, he accumulated enough money to enter an English university and obtain a degree in management. Back in Afghanistan, he had the misfortune to be denounced as an “apostate”, which for the Islamists is a form of “blasphemy” and is therefore an affront that only death can wash away! Five Muslim leaders duly issued not one, but two fatwas. I have seen them, and their translations from Pashto to English, certified by a third-party English company, a company authorised to certify translations of official documents.
The first fatwa is addressed to the family of the blasphemer, requiring them to cut all ties with him and disinherit him. The second fatwa was addressed collectively to all Muslims and declared that the Koranic sentence of death was now applicable to the unfortunate man. Needless to say, FT and ZS have lived in fear ever since. The arrival of the Taliban in power in the summer of 2021 was the trigger for their flight to the only country that was accessible to them in November 2021: Pakistan! It may not be as bad as the Taliban’s Afghanistan but, as noted above, it is far from being a fatwa victim’s dream country.
FT & ZS need to get out of Pakistan as soon as possible. FT is fluent in English, ZS is fluent in French and they want to emigrate to a safe western country. We are the only Western humanist organisation that has responded to their appeal (others, such as Humanist International, are overwhelmed with requests from Afghanistan: they consider these requests as a priority). At AHQ we consider it our duty to save the life of FT whose only crime is to have expressed doubts about the Koran. FT and ZS want to come to Canada and, for the past six weeks, our exchanges with FT have convinced us of their sincerity.
For this we need enough money to start the immigration applications, especially the fast track procedure for religious persecution. We will then know whether the federal government was sincere in creating this “fast track” procedure for refugees persecuted on religious grounds. On the other hand, we will have to “sponsor” this couple to ensure their settlement in Canada. The government is asking sponsors to guarantee one year of support.
I asked a group of our members the question: should we help this couple immigrate to Canada? The answer was well summed up by one of them: “If I do nothing and something happens to FT and ZS, I don’t know how I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror the next morning when I shave.”
How would you feel? Quebec Humanists know they can count on you.
Michel Virard, President
Quebec Humanist Association (Since 2005).
To save FT et ZS, go to GoFundMe here : https://gofund.me/89a2dadb