Scientist Richard Dawkins weighs in on Malaysia’s atheism debate
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Scientist Richard Dawkins weighs in on Malaysia’s atheism debate

British biologist, writer and well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins, added his two cents to the atheism debate underway in Malaysia, saying a deputy minister’s views could “lead to real injustice.”

Dawkins took to Twitter to question how you deal with “such prodigies of stupidity and injustice” after Deputy Minister Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki claimed atheism is a “very dangerous” ideology that goes against the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

“We don’t usually worry about the boundless stupidity of the religiously imprinted mind. But we do when, as in Malaysia and elsewhere [sic] in the Islamic world, it threatens to lead to real injustice.”

Asyraf alleged last week that the freedom of religion in the Constitution which guarantees the freedom to worship did not include the freedom to not believe in any religion.

“We have to understand that in the Malaysian context, our Federal Constitution states that the freedom of religion does not mean freedom from any religion because that is unconstitutional,” he said, as reported by Malay Mail Online.

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“This means we cannot incite someone to leave a religion or promote not having a religion. We cannot order or promote a belief of not having a religion – that is against the Federal Constitution.”

Asyraf’s remarks are the latest in a string of incidents that have sought to disparage atheists in the Muslim-majority nation. In August, a photo showing members of a Kuala Lumpur-based atheist group went viral, prompting backlash from netizens.

At the time, Asyraf said the government would investigate the gathering of Facebook group, the Atheist Republic, to determine if there were “any Muslims involved in atheist activities.”

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Lawyers have since come forward to contradict Asyraf’s claims that atheism is not legal in the country. Civil rights lawyer Syahredzan Johan said being an atheist is protected under the Federal Constitution, also noting that there are no constitutional provisions specifically prohibiting the spreading of atheism.

He told Malay Mail Online: 

“The Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of religion under Article 11, and this includes the freedom not to believe. The statement by the Deputy Minister is completely wrong.”

Dawkins has long been a vocal critic of organised religion and the power it continues to impose on societies across the globe. Author of The God Delusion, Dawkins once wrote:

“Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.”