Atheists are usually very discrete in the Middle East, reports the Café Thawra blog (Jan. 13), published by Joseph Daher and Paola Salwan.
There are rare cases of open expressions of atheism, such as the Syrian philosopher Sadik Jalal al Azm, who claims to be “the only atheist intellectual in the Arab world” and dares to speak openly on the issue. An emeritus professor at the University of Damascus, he has always refused to emigrate, despite threats, and often appears on TV shows across the Middle East to speak on various issues.
In Saudi Arabia, it is forbidden to declare oneself an atheist. In other countries, most atheists do not dare to share their opinions with members of their families. Consequently, Daher and Salwan observe, “as in all the modern underground networks,” the use of the Internet has become a primary tool for expressing atheist opinions and getting in touch with like-minded people. There are now Arab atheist Facebook groups, blogs and forums.