Arab Atheist Blogger Reveals PA Rights Violations

Blogger arrested by PA for ten months over his religious views who finally fled for France speaks out over the abuse and ongoing fears.

Ari Yashar,

PA Security Force beats protester
PA Security Force beats protester
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

In a detailed example of the rampant human rights abuses committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), atheist blogger Waleed Al Husseini detailed the ordeals he suffered for expressing his opinions online on Monday.

In an article entitled "What It's Like to Be an Atheist in Palestine" published on The Daily Beast, Al Husseini described how he spent ten months behind PA bars over his atheist blogging.

"I used to run a blog in Arabic called “Nour Alakl” and ran a satirical Facebook page under the pseudonym 'Allah.' But in October 2010, Palestinian security forces stormed into an Internet cafe and arrested me," wrote Al Husseini. "Until then, I had been under the impression that I had a right to freedom of speech and to the freedom of belief. But in jail, I was told that my online statements about religion and Islam were illegal."

The blogger went on to detail "I was beaten by prison guards who demanded to know who had made me write against Islam. In their minds, I could only say these things as the result of some plot, some conspiracy. The idea that I might simply want to express my independent thoughts was alien to them."

Al Husseini stated "the 10 months I spent in Palestinian prison were the worse of my life. I faced constant pressure to retract my statements. I was told they had removed my blog and that I must apologize for publishing it. Even once I was freed, I was told I should never again use the Internet, nor meet with the media."

Even after being released, Al Husseini reports suffering harassment by the PA Security Forces, being interrogated and detained without cause. He also noted that he received death threats.

"My views, however, cannot be changed by a prison sentence or by persecution. I still believe that Islam often stands in opposition to human rights and women’s rights," wrote Al Husseini, adding that the Koran demands death for non-believers. "Many Muslims may...interpret Islam in a more moderate way, but I cannot accept this religion myself. That is what my conscience tells me."

In analyzing his own arrest, Al Husseini remarked "whose fault was it that I was treated so unjustly? Islam is religion, but it is also a culture. Certainly some people simply cannot stand to live alongside someone who does not conform to their views."

Al Husseini decided to flee PA rule in the Judea and Samaria region, leaving for Jordan on a visa from the French embassy and from there moving to Paris where he is applying for asylum - six months later he is still waiting for resolution.

"I am now effectively in exile. I am living alone in a foreign city, cut off from friends and family, all because of my words," wrote Al Husseini. "I still do not feel safe. If I cannot stay here, and if I am not protected, then there’s a chance the Palestinian Authority will arrest me again. ...Sadly, laws throughout the Middle East - from North Africa to the Gulf - limit the rights of religious minorities and non-believers."

In this context of Middle Eastern repression, it is worth noting that Israel's laws do ensure freedoms of expression and belief for all minorities, despite the false accusations to the contrary that are often thrown against the Jewish state.

In conclusion, the blogger wrote "the international community should do more to protect the plight of these people. There are many of us who need to talk and be reached out to, even if we use fake Facebook accounts for our safety. We must express our thoughts and ourselves. We simply must be allowed this basic freedom."




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