International Human Rights Day – 2018
December 10 marks 70 years since the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Yet there are still many places in the world where you will be put in jail, tortured or killed for not believing in
a religion. For a few fortunate ones, Canada can be a refuge from persecution. We at the Centre for Inquiry
Canada are calling on our fellow Canadians to help even more.
“Discussions about human rights usually include people who are persecuted because of their religious
beliefs,” says Gus Lyn-Piluso, CFIC’s President. “We should also remember those who don’t hold those
beliefs. We should also help those who are persecuted because they want a fair, just and secular society.”
Take the case of our friend A from Saudi Arabia. He saw his cousin killed by troops during the Arab Spring.
His own mother attacked him with a knife and disowned him when she found out he didn’t believe. After
coming to Canada to study for a Masters’ degree, he became depressed and anxious when Canada’s
relations with Saudi Arabia worsened. As a known atheist, he knew that if he was recalled he would face
serious danger. Fortunately, AA was a member of the CFIC community. We helped him file a refugee claim,
get connected with Ontario Works, find a place to live and get medical attention.
“Living in a secular society such as Canada, it can be hard to imagine that someone, your own government or
even your own mother, would try to harm you because you don’t believe,” says Gus. “We understand that
everyone should be treated with respect. Everyone should be treated the same regardless of whether they
hold a particular religious belief or hold no such beliefs at all.”
CFIC has a history of supporting people fleeing persecution for their secular views.
In 2015, Bangali writer Raihan Abir sought asylum in Canada because he was being persecuted for his
secular writing. With the generous support of our members, we helped Raihan and his wife Samia Hossain to
escape to Canada. In remembrance of his friends who were killed for their views, Abir continues to work for
a secular and open society in Bangladesh.
CFIC has also called for the release of blogger Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger. He was arrested and
convicted on several charges including “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” He was ultimately
sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes.
The Centre for Inquiry Canada helps people with good reason. We work to build a more just, secular and
compassionate society where everyone is treated equally. We need you to help to do this. CFIC is asking for
your support so that we can continue to help people like A, Raihan, Samia and Raif.
You can make a donation online
or mail your cheque to:
Centre for Inquiry Canada
PO Box 24006, Hazeldean RPO,
Ottawa ON K2M 2C3.
For more information, email John McKay, Chair, CFIC Communications Committee
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