On April 1, AAI's newest affiliate group, the Atheist Alliance in Iraq, was accepted as AAI's 48th affiliate group, and the first in the state of Iraq.
Organized by Zaid Sameer on Facebook, the group already has over 100 members since being constituted only a month earlier.
Zaid Sameer says that religious strife in Iraq is constant, with Sunnis and Shi'a holding strong sectarian views and more often than not considering the other side as 'infidels'. Being an atheist is even tougher: Although places like Baghdad are relatively secular and people in general are more tolerant of different faith views, the smaller towns and rural provinces are rife with sectarianism and tribal intolerance. But Zaid sees Iraq, after more than two decades of economic sanctions and war, as reaching a new stage where the ideals of freedom of conscience and secularism have their best chance of taking root in a long time.
The Atheist Alliance of Iraq is a group to give voice to those ideals, and to provide a way for similarly-minded Iraqis to find and support each other.