Nacer Amari is the Co-Founder of an in-development organization entitled United Atheists of Europe devoted to the united efforts of atheism and atheists in Europe. Here we talk about Tunisian background and the influence on development and work as an atheist, and more.
When I asked Amari about personal and family background, he talked about the southern Tunisian region of youth. This amounts to a region where religion dominates. The customs, social norms, morays, and traditions centre on religion.
Religion equates to life and blood. The nature of being births one’s relationship with God through religion. Why not? It would seem natural as an accustomed lifestyle and stance. People have the right to freedom of belief and religion. What happens when this becomes imposed by force on others with a sense of chauvinism and bigotry?
“I grew up in a Berber family with Arab culture where parents are illiterate and not religious,” Amari stated, “Usually, it has a negative impact on the child’s personality, but I consider myself to be lucky compared to the children where I grew up, even though my parents were illiterate and managed to raise me without being affected by religion.”
Sometimes, people can identify a moment of saying, “I am an atheist,” or feeling apart from the traditions and the religious community. In such a way, that religion becomes null and void to oneself. Then atheism is found as the proper label, eventually. An atheism prior to knowing one exists as an atheist. Atheism without name, but with form and substance – “sort of, like, kind of, you know?” – as the kids say.
Amari said, “I started to have doubts about religion during the high school. I noticed that my colleagues in the high school were praying, but my family’s members were not. This is when I started thinking about the purpose of prayers and religion and the existence of God in general. Then I completely lost my faith in God during the 10th class identifying myself as an atheist.”
Then he and a friend, Karrar Al Asfoor, founded a social fraternity for atheists entitled United Atheists of Europe with an intention to unify the efforts of the atheist community throughout Europe.
“It is to bring the European atheists to work together with the ex-Muslim community for a secular world,” Amari explained, “In the meantime, it is considered a small-sized social fraternity, but it’s open for every atheist who is interested to join. Our future goals are to have the effective means to challenge religions and protecting secularism in Europe and to empower atheists in the Islamic world pushing it into secularism there.”
In Tunisia, as a small point from an ex-Muslim, Amari commented on not eating during Ramadan. In Tunisia, citizens are banned from eating during Ramadan. You are not allowed to eat due to the old constitution of Tunisia.
“…there was a ban from the Ministry of Interior requiring restaurants and cafes to obtain touristic permits to be able to serve food and drinks during Ramadan with the windows covered. The constitution has been updated after the revolution with a new chapter, which is called ‘the good ethics chapter’ giving the ban legal status,” Amari said.
Amari, as in the prior example with the critique of a single aspect of one religion, talked about the practice of fasting starting about 14 centuries ago. It is associated with ancient religious rites. Those preserved in existence to the present day. He does not consider this commensurate with logical or scientific explanations.
“This is a holy month par excellence for Muslims. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, as they believe that the revelation of the Qur’an was a “night of fate” this month, also the only month of which the name appears in the Koran,” Amari explained.
At the end of the month of Ramadan, Muslims then pay alms if they want to be considered among the faithful. Finally, the conversation veered into the topic of the religious climate for religion in Tunisia.
When speaking of religion, Amari claims, within the social environment and borders of Tunisia, the subject immediately links to conflict. The conflict between the political situation and religion. It has been the case since independence for Tunisia.
Tunisia’s context looks social and political on the surface. However, if one plumbs the depths of the environment, then the deeper roots are seen as political and religious. That is, the conflict remains between fundamentalist religion and the state.
Often, we can observe this is secular fundamentalisms in ethnic supremacism and ethnic nationalism or in standard religious fundamentalisms with Dominionist Evangelical Christianity and Islamist ideologies.
Post-revolution, the Islamists in Tunisia took power of the country. The country took a scary turn into assassinations, an increase in terrorism, and terror attacks.
“The freedom to criticize religion in Tunisia is complicated, because in the new constitution, there is a contradiction in the laws, where we find in the first chapter mentioned that ‘Islam is the religion of the state,’” Amari concluded, “However, in chapter six, ‘The State protects the religion (Islam), guarantees the freedom of belief, conscience and the exercise of the cults.’”
*Addendum initiative from Nacer*
They also have an organization, which is the Neo Illuminati project. It amounts to one devoted for the promotion of secularism to the Islamic world and ex-Muslims in it. It is to help those who risk their lives get a chance to have a better future. These courageous men and women are facing a violent ideology, according to Nacer. These are the most suitable people to deal with Islam. The more support they get, then the more social change they can make and the faster changes will happen.
The Western world is facing the risk of expanding Islamism (political Islam) in Europe, and to be able to counter Islamism, the best thing we can do is to challenge the main idea of Islam in the birthplace of the ideology. This is why Nacer wants to empower atheists or secular people in their own (Islamic) countries to reduce fanaticism and extremism in Islamic countries and the rest of the world.
During this struggle, ex-Muslims face various types of discrimination. They can be subjected to violence, jail, execution, or even assassination. We as activists try to save ex-Muslims who are at risk, but most of us who live in the West are actually refugees with zero resources and cannot do our work without support. This is the main purpose of this project.
But the project is not limited just to this, it’s a social fraternity for atheists inspired by the Illuminati that existed in Bavaria during the Enlightenment Era. Thus, our long-term goal is a secular world as per the Enlightenment. So, it’s not only about ex-Muslims and Islam. At the same time, this is the most important issue.
You can support by donations. You can even join the fraternity and support by other means, or we can cooperate if you already have your own project. At the same time, we have four funding programs that you can donate to:
- Core funding program: this fund is for the project itself. The donations will be used to improve the structure of this project and implement innovative strategic plans to take it to the next level.
- Atheists at-risk program: this program is to save those at risk because of their atheism.
- Improve activism program: this program is to improve the exceptional and innovative work of activists and make it more effective, for example, providing technologies and means of an audience to reach out to vloggers and bloggers to help them make more impact in the society.
- Support the team program: we would love to work full time on this project, but that’s not achievable due to the responsibilities associated with the life of being a refugee. Your help means a lot to us. To join the fraternity, please find the contact details at the very bottom and connect with us. Instructions on how to donate will be added later. Currently, we are in need to move to a premium website. This would cost us around 220 USD (on squarespace) charged from the (core funding program).
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