Invisible Atheists: The spread of disbelief in the Arab world.

By Ahmed Benchemsi

New RepublicLAST DECEMBER, DAR AL IFTA, a venerable Cairo-based institution charged with issuing Islamic edicts, cited an obscure poll according to which the exact number of Egyptian atheists was 866. The poll provided equally precise counts of atheists in other Arab countries: 325 in Morocco, 320 in Tunisia, 242 in Iraq, 178 in Saudi Arabia, 170 in Jordan, 70 in Sudan, 56 in Syria, 34 in Libya, and 32 in Yemen. In total, exactly 2,293 nonbelievers in a population of 300 million.

Many commentators ridiculed these numbers. The Guardian asked Rabab Kamal, an Egyptian secularist activist, if she believed the 866 figure was accurate. “I could count more than that number of atheists at Al Azhar University alone,” she replied sarcastically, referring to the Cairo-based academic institution that has been a center of Sunni Islamic learning for almost 1,000 years. Brian Whitaker, a veteran Middle East correspondent and the author of Arabs Without God, wrote, “One possible clue is that the figure for Jordan (170) roughly corresponds to the membership of a Jordanian atheist group on Facebook. So it’s possible that the researchers were simply trying to identify atheists from various countries who are active in social media.” 

The Nakba 67 Years on: Holding on Tight to Our Long Postponed Dreams

By Ghada Ageel Sixty-seven years ago, Palestinians woke up to a tragedy that ravaged their hearts and distorted Palestinian life forever. Over 800,000 people, approximately half of the population of then-mandatory Palestine, were evicted from their homes and their ancestors’ lands. The horror was engraved on all of the faces; a language and reality they […]

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Palestine Commemorates 67 years of Ongoing Nakba

By Dr. Mosheer Amer On 15 May every year, the Palestinian people all over the world commemorate the anniversary of the Nakba, or “Catastrophe”. The Palestinians mourn and remember the massive expulsion and forcible displacement from their homes, villages and towns by Zionist militias in a systematic drive to create an exclusively Jewish state in […]

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The Nakba: A Crime Watched, Ignored and Remembered

By Ilan Pappe The 15th of May is usually a trigger for a journey back in time. And for an unfathomable reason each such journey conjures up a different aspect of the Nakba. This year, more than anything else, I am preoccupied with the continued apathy and indifference of the Western political elite and media […]

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Netanyahu’s new dysfunctional government

A majority of 61 Knesset seats out of 120 isn’t bad, but it’s not enough to govern. Coalition members who have not yet been sworn in know this well, but they rush ahead blindly nonetheless. We have almost forgotten the last elections, yet Netanyahu took a long time to get a government together. His “natural” partners are already at the wheel and ready for the journey, but they too feel that the trip is likely to be short and end in disappointment.

Israel Seeks in Nepal to Whitewash Its Crimes in Gaza

By Jonathan Cook – Nazareth Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was quick to congratulate Israeli soldiers on their relief efforts in Nepal, where an earthquake late last month claimed many thousands of lives. “These are the true faces of Israel,” he said of a 260-strong team that arrived to pull survivors from the rubble, treat […]

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The Arab Boat: It’s an Arab-Palestinian Nakba, and We Are All Refugees

By Ramzy Baroud In a western capital far away from Gaza and Cairo, I recently shared a pot of tea with an “Egyptian refugee”. The term is familiar to me, but never have I encountered an Egyptian who refers to himself as such. He stated it as a matter of fact by saying: “As an […]

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The Nakba: Israel’s Catastrophe

By Vacy Vlazna “By military force, the Jewish forces conquered 78% of Palestine in 1948 and depopulated 675 towns and villages, leaving only 15% of its Palestinian citizens under the rule of the Jewish forces. This area of Palestine was called Israel.” — Salman Abu Sitta The Palestinian Nakba is a catastrophe for the Jewish […]

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