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US Atheist Group Targets Muslims and Jews

Atheist  Billboard

American Atheists has taken aim at Muslims and Jews with new billboards in Arabic and Hebrew. While atheists should be absolutely free to compete in the marketplace of ideas just like everyone else, this group isn’t merely offering an alternative to religion.

Despite their presumed appreciation for rational skepticism, the group appears to have been taken in by so-called “ex-Muslim” and confirmed loon, Ibn Warraq, and their negative portrayal of Islam sounds like it was cut-and-paste from a far right anti-Muslim hate site.

US atheist group targets Muslims and Jews

by Bob Pitt, Islamophobia Watch

CNN reports that the American Atheists organisation are targeting Muslim and Jewish communities with billboards in Arabic and Hebrew describing God as a “myth”.

Warraq and Geller

Pamela Geller and Ibn Warraq

“We are not trying to inflame anything,” American Atheists president Dave Silverman is quoted as saying. “We are trying to advertise our existence to atheists in those communities. The objective is not to inflame but rather to advertise the atheist movement in the Muslim and Jewish community.”

Yeah, right.

American Atheists, you may recall, is the organisation involved in the “Zombie Muhammad” case, in which one of their members claimed that he was assaulted by a Muslim during a Halloween parade. After the case was dimissed because of lack of supporting evidence, American Atheists expressed outrage that the judge had refused to take the word of a white American over that of a “Muslim immigrant”.

The American Atheists website features a long essay attacking Islam and Muslims which the authors state is “greatly dependent upon the excellent books written or compiled by Ibn Warraq”. It contains passages like these:

Mohammedans prefer to be called Muslims – a term derived from the Arabic ’aslama, meaning ‘to resign oneself [to Allah]’. They prefer their religion to be called Islam (from Arabic ’islam, meaning ‘submission’) rather than Mohammedanism. Most western scholars have gone along with this, rather than risk the wrath of purportedly peaceful members of ‘the third great Abrahamic faith’. Nevertheless, Mohammedanism seems to be a perfectly appropriate name for a religion which currently poses so great a threat to secular civilizations throughout the world….

Despite the occasionally tolerant references in the Qur’an to “People of the Book” (Jews and Christians in addition to Muslims), the non-Muslims need to be eliminated. Convert them or kill them, or make them pay a religious ransom to continue the private practice of their religion. (Of necessity, Muslims must reject the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) Atheists and Agnostics, who deny the reality of Allah, are also wicked blasphemers. They need to be eliminated also. It is preferable to kill them.

True, the authors go on to state that intolerance is “a natural attribute of all monotheistic religions”. However, no extended essay can be found on the American Atheists site attacking Christianity and Christians in equally vitriolic terms.

But this has become a distinguishing feature of the so-called “new atheism”. The legitimate secular objective of separating church and state has been sidelined in favour of attacking minority ethno-religious communities, and Muslims in particular, often employing language which is indistinguishable from that of the racist right.

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  • Sabhanak Yarabi

    Let me qualify that I’m not a grammarian or Arabic instructor, just a lover of languages. I wouldn’t take my word for it.

  • Sabhanak Yarabi

    I understand it: You know IT (the myth) is a myth. If you replace “ها” with “الله” you would have to replace “خرافة” with “خراف” right? And I don’t think they meant to say God is a sheep.

  • Snoman

    But the proun returns back to Allah, not the word khuraafa. It would be like saying “You know it is a myth” about the myth, and not the word Allah.

  • Sabhanak Yarabi

    @Snoman: The SHE is a pronoun for kharafa (myth), which is feminine – so it seems correct to me.

  • khushboo

    Aspie and Atheist, thank you for your response and clearing up my confusion. You are one of the logical and sensible ones. 🙂

  • khushboo

    Right on Snoman!

  • Snoman

    “The Wahhabis, likewise, are not a ‘Sunni’ sect at all. They exist entirely separate of the Sunni-Shi’a split which seems to preoccupy the minds of so many westerners, much like the Qur’an-only types.”

    First of all, there is no such thing as a Wahhabi. Second of all, by saying they are outside the Sunni-Shi`a split and are like Qur’an only Muslim then you are making takfeer of them.

    “Nor are the Wahhabis all that popular. Admittedly, not all Wahhabis are terrorists by any stretch, but their hyper-conservative beliefs set them apart from the majority of Muslims. They are a definite minority here, and I’ve never been to a Wahhabi mosque. Most mosques around here are mainline Sunni.”

    First of all, a LARGE percentage of the Imams at your local mosques attended the University of Medina, which is “wahhabi.” Therefore, you have attended a “wahhabi” mosque, you just don’t seem to know what you mean. Second of all, the Shaykhs in Saudi are the most anti-suicide bombing people from all the Muslims. In fact, they even oppose protests let alone vegilatism. In fact, the terrorists have made takfeer (like you did earlier) of the Wahhabis and in fact refer to them as Talafis (which a play on words for what they call themselves, Salafis)

  • Believing Atheist


    How? I am not part of this organization. I criticized this group.

    This is what I wrote about this group on this thread (see my response to Just Stopping By):

    “The only reason that group defined atheism that way is because that group is like a cult, they have a cult-leader and hence believe that they are special. That’s why they are trying to establish a life-style, WTF!

    There is a problem when atheism starts behaving like a religion. You know it’s not pure atheism anymore.”

  • Aspie and Atheist

    Geller in the above pic. looks like ignorant, sassy, and arrogant white trash.

    She is a bigot and is quite happy at being one.

  • Aspie and Atheist


    Exactly. Though I wouldn’t identify religions with cults; being atheist means that you are just going to be yourself. You don’t even have to think about atheism- you just focus on being you….

    What some people like Harris, Dawkins, etc. are doing is really just making atheism into a sort of dogma, and this is essentially opposed to the concept of freethought.

  • NurAlia

    When an ideology imposes its point of view on someone else because the imposer belives he is more ‘right’ than his opposition…and it becomes a sustained, organized effort, including creating institutions, clubs, organizations, to foster that message…it is a religion.

    Believing Athiest…you are of the religion of non belief.

  • Palestinian

    The whole point of being atheist is to not subscribe to any of the beliefs and behaviors that define a cult. Be who you are. Don’t follow something just because someone else does. And atheism certainly does not have a lifestyle and is certainly NOT a lifestyle. It is simply the opposite of theist. Treating atheism like these douches are doing is only turning it into another religion. Total antithesis of what it means to be a true atheist.

  • Aspie and Atheist

    I personally believe in a tolerant and kind atheism which shows respect for other’s beliefs in general while at the same time exploring eye-opening questions and the use of logic and science.

  • Aspie and Atheist


    It isn’t right to insult another person’s beliefs.

    And yes, I agree with you, there is a difference between disbelieving in God and trampling on other’s beliefs. This is, I believe, one of the chief flaws in certain types of atheism; logic is traded over for emotional and sardonic rhetoric.

    The truth is, people who do this kind of stuff are bullies, and you as well as others who are the victims should just ignore them.

    And I wouldn’t worry about Bill Maher either…. personally sometimes I think the guy can be funny, but other times he has head up his ass, just like Dawkins and Harris.

    I do not believe in any deities, but that doesn’t mean I should go around bullying others because of what they believe.

  • Believing Atheist


    Because we can. You can do the same to us. I really don’t care as long as you guys don’t kill us or threaten us with death (by you guys I mean theists and not just Muslims).


    I agreed already that these atheists do not know history or Islam. Hence the listing of some of the atheists who lived in the Muslim world during the height of Islam.

  • khushboo

    I don’t understand what American Atheists are trying to do. Why insult other people’s beliefs?? They don’t believe in God, that’s fine but why trample on other people’s beliefs? Are they trying to convert others to atheism? I thought atheism wasn’t a religion? Would they want us to do the same to them. I thought they would rather be left alone. I’m sick of some of them mocking our religion, i.e. Bill Maher.

  • Adam

    @Believing atheist

    I think they were simply pointing out the stupid stupid choice of soarces these atheists are using.

  • Believing Atheist


    That is not totally accurate. It was not confined to the comments section. Because when I entered LW just today this is what I found below the picture of Ibn Warraq with Pam Geller

    “Militant atheist group’s negative portrayal of Islam sounds like cut-and-paste from a far right hate site”

    This statement occurs before clicking on the article.

    So let’s be clear on that first. If you just meant it in the comments why does it appear before clicking on the article in question?

    Secondly, I don’t care what you deem to be militant you are entitled to your opinion as am I. I countered your opinion, and we will just agree to disagree.

  • Believing Atheist

    I disagree with this group being labeled as militant by LW. (See my above comments on this thread for the reason why). However, I also disagree with this group’s analysis of Islam and history.

    There have been Muslim atheists/agnostics/skeptics throughout the Muslim world when Islam was at its height and golden age. Here are just a few:

    Muhammad al Warraq from whom Ibn Warraq takes his name. 9th century (Iraqi)

    Ibn al-Rawandi – 827-911 (Afghani)

    Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi – 865-925 (Persian)

    Al-Ma’arri – 973-1057 (Syrian)

    Omar Khayyam – 1048-1141 (Persian)

  • Black Infidel

    Those billboards are not attack Muslims nor Jews, just their beliefs. American Atheists has tons of billboards about Christianity, so they’re taking a break from them and focusing on Islam and Judaism. In the future American Atheists will have billboards about Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Paganism, New Age etc..

    There is nothing Islamophobic and Anti-Semitic about those billboards.

  • Aspie and Atheist

    Zakariya Ali Sher,

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Yeah, I just finished reading that… *ahem* piece (of crap) from the American Atheists’ website. And I stand by my statement that it’s crap. Aside from being mercilessly cribbed from ‘ibn Warraq’ and Patricia Crones, it is also full of misinformation, half-truths and outright speculation that the author could not possibly know the answer to. It is poorly researched, self-righteous and literally drenched with bile towards Islam, Muslims and anyone outside the ‘civilized and enlightened’ west.

    For one thing, his understanding (and explanation of) the Arabic language seems pretty bad. Alif (ا‎) historically represented either a long ‘a’ sound or a glottal stop. Today, the glottal stop is represented with a special diacritical character called hamza (ء) which is not considered a letter. It is not the same as alif, though sometimes you’ll find the archaic spelling which only uses alif for a glottal stop.

    Our esteemed narrator then goes on to serve us this steaming pile of crap:

    “The term Muslim is classical Arabic, whereas Moslem is colloquial Arabic, where u has changed to o, and i has changed to e. Thus,Mohammed is the colloquial equivalent of Muhammad, and Umarbecomes Omar.”

    Ummm… no. Arabic doesn’t use the same alphabet as English, therefore there are multiple ways of transliterating the same word. Muslim or Moslem, Umar or Omar. In truth, I see Omar used far more by Latinos (a consequence of the Moorish centuries). We just say عمر‎ and مسلم‎. I can’t help but wonder if this is why so many ‘fake ex-Muslims,’ Atheists and Islamophobes have TROUBLE pronouncing Muslim…

    The Wahhabis, likewise, are not a ‘Sunni’ sect at all. They exist entirely separate of the Sunni-Shi’a split which seems to preoccupy the minds of so many westerners, much like the Qur’an-only types. Nor are the Wahhabis all that popular. Admittedly, not all Wahhabis are terrorists by any stretch, but their hyper-conservative beliefs set them apart from the majority of Muslims. They are a definite minority here, and I’ve never been to a Wahhabi mosque. Most mosques around here are mainline Sunni. I can’t imagine a Wahhabi going over real well with us Shi’a.

    Early on the author seems to take issue with Sufi veneration of Muhammad. The Wahhabis aren’t guilty of that. Under their guidance, Saudi Arabia has tried to destroy any relic or landmark connected to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), His family or early Islam in general. They have banned celebrating Mawlid or visiting Jannat al-Baqi, paved over the battlefield of Uhud, bulldozed Muhammad’s house, and build an ATM over the first mosque in the world. I would imagine that sort of violent iconoclasm would be the stuff of the author’s wet dreams.

    He seems to be quite unaware that Sufism is neither a uniform phenomena nor a sect in and of itself. There are plenty of Sufis who also happen to be Sunni or Shi’a (probably more of the former for a variety of reasons) and that the brotherhoods diverge significantly from one another. The Sanussis of Libya are almost as spartan as the Wahhabis, while the Chisti are about as vibrant and eclectic as you could want. I find very little objectionable about the Chisti, and can’t imagine what his argument with them would be. Another order, the Tijaniyya, began as a reformation which rejected visiting the tombs of saints (aside from saints of the Tijaniyya order itself that is). Then you’ve got the Mourides, who emphasis loyalty and hard work, and are extremely important in Senegal today.

    Ironically, his description of reverence for the Prophet seems a more apt description of us Shi’a, and has been a frequent allegation weighed against us by certain Sunni groups throughout history. We do revere the Prophet Muhammad, the Ahl al-Bay’t and the Imams, though to be fair outright worship of them would be beyond the pale. Such extremist groups may have existed at various points in history, but they are hardly representative of Shi’ism as a whole. Curiously, the author seems quite ignorant of Shi’a beliefs or even our existence. He also, oddly, claims that Ali was a brother of Muhammad. That’s another one of those claims that’s… well rather out there…

    And it’s especially ironic because every other article about Islam on the website seems to be entirely focused on Salman Rushdie and the fatwa against him. Most of which get rather… repetitive. I’m not even sure where to begin with that, but I’m guessing it may be some sort of weird fetishization on the author’s part…

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    I think one of the issues is that many militant Atheists are perfectly comfortable with the notion of preaching to Muslims, Jews or whomever else to abandon their religion, but still feel a special softness for the culture (and sometimes even religion) of their birth. And the bulk of Atheists still come largely from the West.

    We’ve seen several examples of this with Richard Dawkins declaring himself to be a ‘cultural Christian’ (whatever that means) while still professing to be an Atheist. Both him and Ayaan H. Ali (another alleged ‘Atheist’ who seems far too comfortable hanging out with fundamentalist Christians) have called for Christian missionaries to destroy Islam in Africa, because Christianity is somehow seen as preferential to Islam. Moreover, atrocities of Christianity (and Western civilization) are downplayed whereas any crime carried out by a Muslim is IMMEDIATELY given as evidence of a vast Islam conspiracy, and all other Muslims are immediately assigned guilt by association.

    I think this is a logical extension of this. I find it especially interesting that they insist upon using the outdated term ‘Mohammedan,’ something which I’ve seen many fundamentalist Christians and other Islamophobes use. Secular scholars have largely abandoned the term since the 19th century. If they are TRULY Atheist and believe that God and His Prophets are a myth anyway, then why not use the term ‘Muslim,’ since it is accurate (we call ourselves Muslims, after all; the term Mohammedan is purely a Christian innovation used by European academics in the early modern era).

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