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The return of blasphemy laws to the United Kingdom has been slow, but not all that stealthy. At the University College London, the president of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society resigned after the college student union backed a Muslim student association’s complaints about a cartoon strip of Mohammed having a drink that was posted on Facebook.
The steady flow of Muslim immigrants into London has turned it into Londonistan with nearly a tenth of the city answering the Call of the Mosque. In two decades their numbers will double and with 40 percent of British Muslims polling for Sharia, it’s not difficult to see that the trajectory for atheists in London is not a very promising one.
Atheists are a minority with legal protections in the West. Which is why the majority of the signatories on the Manifesto for a Secular Middle East and North Africa were activists who had left the Muslim world and were living in Europe or the United States. The impossibility of signing a similar manifesto while living full time in Iran or Pakistan went without saying.
But as the Muslim populations of Western countries continue to grow, they are becoming dangerous places for non-Muslims, including atheists. If a dialogue on the consequences of Islamic law can be shut down with threats of violence at University College London, then it’s hard to think of any place that it cannot be shut down.
We like to think of our cities as fundamentally different places than Tehran or Islamabad, but it’s the population that shapes the character and values of a city. Demographic change means cultural and religious change and as the norms of Tehran and Islamabad become the norms of London and Paris, religious minorities and irreligious minorities will both find themselves silenced.
The trajectory of persecution is not very difficult to calculate. In the UK, Muslims outnumber Jews six to one. In France, Muslims outnumber Jews ten to one, and in Sweden by as much as twenty-five to one. These are not just numbers; they also accurately chart the trajectory of religious persecution, with the Muslim persecution of Jews spiking horrifyingly in Sweden, high in France, but not as high in England. One reason why the situation is not yet as bad as in the United States is because Jews still outnumber Muslims at least two to one.
Muslim persecution of a hated minority group increases proportionally in relation to their numerical advantage. Atheists are a larger percentage of the population in Europe, but demographics are still catching up to them. In the United States the demographic race may already be done, as far as atheists are concerned.
In the United States approximately 0.7 percent of the population identifies as atheist and 0.8 percent of the population as Muslim. If these surveys are correct then the number of Muslims in the United States has already exceeded the number of atheists. While not a single member of Congress identifies as an atheist, two identify as Muslims.
The most dangerous place to be an atheist is in the Muslim world and as its boundaries broaden, so does the threat to the freedoms and civil liberties of all.
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