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Free Speech, Rational Dialogue & Atheist Forums

I recently posted a piece on my Huffington Post blog on how I see no contradiction between Science and faith.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.22.13 PMI thought this would be a great stimulus for dialogue on an issue that is often a subject of discussion between theists and atheists. I therefore shared my blog on theist and atheist forums alike. The reason to share my views on atheist forums was two fold. Firstly, I wanted to stimulate intellectual dialogue. Secondly, I wanted to see what counterarguments my atheist friends come up with, to better understand their position.

I was surprised (well, not so much) to see that I was blocked in 3 of the 4 forums I shared the blog on. Two forums did not give any reason. All I saw was a barrage of abuse/ demands to be kicked out and next thing, I was blocked.

One forum, however, tolerated me for a day before banning me. Atheist Nexus is apparently one of the largest atheist forums on social media. Within minutes of posting my blog, I got a note from the admin saying I was being banned for “proselytization,” and that I would be removed from the forum once “the mob has finished with you.”

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Proselytization is attempting to convert people. I did not say, “Hey atheists, join Islam.” I merely expressed an opinion. How is saying “I believe my faith and science are compatible, what you think about my arguments?” an attempt at converting atheists to Islam? In this way, anything and everything I say as a Muslim can be (mis)interpreted as an attempt to convert.

What if I said: “I believe more Muslims in Muslim countries should fight for the freedom of conscience of atheists.”  A die-hard anti-theist could make the argument: “Oh look at that Muzzie trying to impress us. Proselytization attempt!!”

I tried to reason with the group and clarified that they were free to disagree with the contents of my blog, to rebut them with their own arguments and engage in rational dialogue on the issue. The response – ad hominem and straw man (with few exceptions of course). Calls to kick me out of the forum grew louder. “You are offending us!!” “Admins, remove this Liar and ********!!!”

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Apparently I had blasphemed. And as people grew angrier and crazier, I was removed from the forum. The forum was clean again. The threat had been averted.

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The following day, I had another encounter in another atheist forum. The Atheism vs. Islam forum on Facebook is apparently meant for debate between Islam and atheism. On the forum, it is kosher to ridicule and abuse Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but criticizing Prophet Dawkins is considered blasphemy. Here’s what happened:

A Muslim member of the group posted a picture of a woman and her child hung from ropes into a well. He claimed the victims were Muslims hung by Buddhist extremists. Now, granted such extremism exists and is at the root of one of the largest human rights crisis in the world right now, the picture was in fact that of an Indian woman and her child hung in some remote part of rural India.

Not surprisingly, all hell broke lose. The member was attacked with abuses and all sorts of vulgar language. All Muslims and Islam-bashing began right away. I watched with interest and decided to carry out an experiment.

I shared a piece I had written a few months back exposing Richard Dawkin’s intellectual dishonesty.

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Richard Dawkins, who tweets @RichardDawkins (and has blocked me for challenging his views in the past) picked up this picture and tweeted it with this text: “Afghan kid throwing stones at those who stoned his mother.” When in fact, this picture was part of a VOA blog with the caption: “An Afghan beggar woman clad in burqa sleeps on a road, as her daughter throws a small stone for fun while waiting for alms on the out skirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. The World Food Program announces it will cut food assistance to more than 3 million Afghans because of a shortage of money from donor nations.”

Nothing could be more callous than Dawkins exploiting a poor hungry beggar and her playing child for his Islamophobic agenda.

I asked the members on the forum to comment on this intellectual dishonesty. If they were abusing the Muslim member based on principle and bashing Islam based on the error of one unknown forum member, you would expect them to destroy Dawkins and new atheism to smithereens after seeing this post.

Instead, excuses and justifications flowed in. Atheist writer and friend David Gamble also chimed in. “Its an easy mistake to make,” he responded. No condemnation of Prophet Dawkins at all.

Another member said, “It is a reasonable assumption to see said image and come to the conclusion that Dawkins did.” Again, no condemnation of Prophet Dawkins at all.

Then started the calls to kick me out of the forum. I had blasphemed. How dare I point out the hypocrisy of the Prophet? I was promptly blocked from the forum. The forum was clean once again. Reason for block: Criticizing Dawkins on a forum where ad hominem flows like the Nile.

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Here is my point. Most of the atheist forums on the internet are run and dominated by “new atheists.” New atheists are widely regarded as the Mullahs of the atheist world. Much like theist Mullahs, they are intolerant, abusive and angry. They are threatened by rational dialogue and seek to ban and block anyone who poses them an intellectual threat. They are dishonest and are the only ones who don’t see their own double standards and hypocrisy. Theist Mullahs have the same lack of insight on their behavior.

Because of this, many people wrongly assume that all atheists are abusive trolls with faceless and fake name IDs like the majority of “new atheists.” When in fact, the truth is that the majority of atheists are good people and promote rational dialogue just as the majority of theists do.

Until and unless the new atheists open up for rational dialogue, agree to tolerance and civil dialogue, the world will continue to know them and expose them for their Mullahism.

Related: Are all atheists simply angry, or just the ones to whom you’re listening?