Humanists UK today delivered a petition of over 12,500 signatories to Downing Street, calling on the Government to review the way in which the Home Office assesses asylum claims made by humanists and other non-religious people, who are forced to flee their home countries because of persecution due to their beliefs.
This petition began in the light of the treatment of ex-Muslim apostate and Humanists UK member Hamza bin Walayat, who as a humanist will face ostracism, violence, and persecution if returned to his native Pakistan, and who has previously received death threats because of his beliefs. During an interview as part of his assessment process, he was subjected to an extraordinary line of questioning including on the semantics of whether humanism can be a considered a religion and tested on his knowledge of classical philosophy. This interview, a summary of which has been seen by Humanists UK, reveals a high level of misunderstanding over the nature of humanism and of the international law protecting the non-religious from persecution.
The petition makes three calls:
- Reverse the decision to deport Hamza – the test was not fair, and based on a deeply flawed understanding of humanism
- Inform all Home Office employees that non-religious people have equal protections in law to religious people. This is a basic principle of equality and human rights which underpins the basic liberties of the non-religious
- Working with us, educate Home Office officials about humanism and non-religious beliefs, so that humanists fleeing persecution are not recklessly endangered like this again
In addition to the petition, Humanists UK also presented the Government with an open letter signed by over 150 eminent philosophers attesting to the fact that neither Plato or Aristotle, who Hamza was asked to name, were humanists and that the Home Office questions were unreasonable. A copy of this letter was originally published in The Guardian.
Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Hamza’s case revealed not only that officials are not knowledgeable about humanism as an approach to life, but more worryingly, they wrongly claimed that non-religious people are not afforded the same level of protection under international law as religious people are when faced with the real and immediate threat of violence and persecution because of their beliefs. This misunderstanding and mishandling of the asylum process could have very wide repercussions for all non-religious people who seek sanctuary in our country.
‘We would like to thank all those who signed this petition, and helped to bring this problem to Government attention.’
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0781 55 89 636.
Read more about Hamza’s Case: https://humanism.org.uk/2018/01/17/home-office-tells-humanist-hell-be-deported-for-not-identifying-plato-or-aristotle/
Read more about Humanists UK’s international campaigns: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/international-campaigns/
At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.
Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/