Istanbul, Turkey – The first legally recognized Atheist Organization of the Balkans, Middle East and among all Muslim-majority countries, has been founded in Istanbul, Turkey. The organization, titled Ateizm Dernegi, was founded in Istanbul on April 16, 2014. The focus of Ateizm Dernegi is to advocate for human rights, especially the right to irreligion – a right that is viewed as an act of terrorism in many Middle Eastern countries. It is the view of Ateizm Dernegi, that when political leaders including the Prime Minster of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan provide statements – citing Atheists as terrorists, “We opened a boulevard in Ankara on Monday [Feb. 24] despite the [protests of] leftists, despite those atheists. They are terrorists…” something must be done. Ateizm Dernegi aims and purposes to protect irreligious as well as free-thinking persons’ rights in Turkey. The right to be Atheist or irreligious coincides with one’s legal human rights. The founders of Ateizm Dernegi are striving for the day when atheists no longer face any discrimination or prejudice in the workplace, at home or on the street. The founding members of the organization have coined the slogan, “No atheists will be alone anymore, in the courts or in the streets!”
Ateizm Dernegi is open to all branches of irreligion, not limited to Atheism and is in readiness to welcome all free-thinking people, regardless of race and background, and promotes the right to freely express one’s beliefs and ideologies without worry or apprehension in any situation. In Turkey, people are easily pressured into religion, faced with strain from, tradition, work colleagues, family members, and tension from conservative neighbors and neighborhoods. With these systematic and societal pressures, comes, sheer intimidation towards free-thinking people. Free-thinking individuals are often insulted and humiliated due to their philosophical views and in many cases, even face death as a result of fundamentalist attitudes! The organization plans to focus its efforts on education, human rights and to advocate for freedoms that are often denied via religious pressure or influence. The organization does not oppose religion or religious peoples, but stands firm against the dangers that can come in the name of religion taken too far. The group philosophy of Ateizm Dernegi is that morality does not go hand in hand with religion, it is for this reason we demand a world where we are all responsible for our actions toward others and no one is able hide behind religion as a catalyst or provocation for fundamentalism and oppression. As the country becomes increasingly more censured and intolerant, Ateizm Dernegi has a responsibility to the people, to council and protect against injustice, maltreatment and abuse. Ateizm Dernegi hopes is to defend the legal rights of free-thinking people through paid or voluntary lawyers that will be organized via the association, and also to provide counseling for those victimized resulting from these restrictive societies. The organization aims to inform people of their existence and position to defend the most basic rights of the Turkish people.
The intention of Ateizm Dernegi is not to open a debate about religion. Our aim is to advocate against religious prejudice, oppression and fundamentalism, and to promote the basic human and civil right to believe or not believe in a positive, educated and constructive manner. For now we focus our resources on uniting free-thinking individuals, as it is only together that our cries for freedom will be heard. We ask people to think, even those who are Muslim, (or have other religious beliefs) here in Turkey, “How you follow your religion is your choice at this time but stand next to us to advocate for freedom, your freedom could be taken away next. It may not be your problem today, but it could be your problem tomorrow and who will be left to stand next to you when the rest of us have been silenced?”
To learn more about Ateizm Dernegi, please contact:
Osmanağa Mahallesi, Çuhadarağa Sokak
Galerium İş Merkezi, No:23/40, Kat:1
Kadıköy / İSTANBUL
Call Center: +09 0 850 840 2337