A man looks on as Muslims circle the Kaaba and pray during Umrah, with construction cranes are seen at the Grand Mosque, in the holy city of Mecca January 10, 2014. The area surrounding the Grand Mosque is currently undergoing an expansion to accommodate more pilgrims, Umrah performers and visitors, according to local media. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: RELIGION) - RTX1791C

Why Are Saudis Tearing Up the Quran?

Looks like the kingdom's atheists have finally found their voice

Saudi Arabia is not the go-to country when you think of atheism, being one of the world’s most repressive Islamic societies. Turns out we may have them pegged all wrong. A 2012 Gallup poll revealed that there is a similar proportion of atheists in Saudi Arabia as in the United States and parts of Europe, and what’s more, those atheists are being increasingly vocal, despite the threat of violence against them.

Atheists in Saudi Arabia tend to keep a low profile (because beheadings), and because Islamic law is the law of the land, they often maintain a semblance of religious observance in public. Not so online, where they’re skirting danger and expressing their atheism via anonymous accounts. The dual existence makes for some incongruous posting—like the user below, defiantly declaring atheism from Mecca, with the holy Qabaa stone in the background.

03/11/14 19:41 UTC@QMrtd

"Proud to be #atheist" near the holy cube in #Mecca. #تجريم_الدعوة_للإلحاد #SaudiArabia #Islam http://t.co/Xyp9YeUdvi

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Twitter profiles dedicated to atheism in Arabic have large followings—the Twitter handle @Atheistguide has more than 30,000 followers, primarily from the Middle East. In the last month alone, the hashtag #Atheist in Arabic was tweeted more than 70,000 times.

When Saudi Arabia issued a decree criminalizing the practice of atheism this month, it sparked a blasphemous campaign in response. The hashtag #CampaigntoTearTheQuraninSaudiArabia was tweeted more than 7,800 times in the span of a week, circulating images of protest.

A 23-year-old woman who goes by the name of Hafsa is one of the most active users of the hashtag. She has posted particularly provocative images.

02/09/13 11:15 UTC@Hafsa1990

ملحدة وأفتخر #عقلانيون #السعودية http://t.co/CHO90vqX

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In the tweet below, Hafsa commits a double taboo by stomping on a shredded Quran with red high-heeled shoes. She mockingly asks: “Will Allah react or not? Will he cause an earthquake under my feet even though I live next to his house [in Mecca]?”

03/15/14 19:16 UTC@Hafsa1990

الله يمهل ولا يهمل هههههههه ليزلزل الارض تحتي فأنا أسكن جوار بيته. #حملة_تمزيق_القرآن_في_السعودية http://t.co/Col6xLrdO5

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Afraid of societal and legal repercussions, other social network users who published images of torn up Qur’an did so under false names and identities. One Twitter user by the name of Blasphemer posted an image of a torn-up Quran, saying that he hides his identify because of the society he lives in.

03/15/14 21:24 UTC@freemind_11

#حملة_تمزيق_القرآن_في_السعودية "إنا نحن نزلنا الذكر وإنا له لحافظون" صدق الله العظيم http://t.co/OfApse4zpb

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When asked whether his friends and family knew of his blasphemous deeds, he replied: “No, and in our tribal society they can’t know. If they had known, they would have treated me as if I am possessed with demons, and I would be isolated, therefore I keep it to myself completely.”

Another tweeter who goes by Mighty Feynman used a picture of Richard Feynman as his avatar. Feynman is an American theoretical physicist and avowed atheist. The Twitter user also posted a picture of a torn-up Quran, claiming to have spit on the holy book before tearing it to shreds.

03/17/14 09:05 UTC@DaG2DaN

@Najdiyah4 انت السبب في تمزيق كتابك المقدس ثم البصق عليها ... كلما رديتي كلما مردغنا مقدساتكم اكثر ياعبيد الوهم http://t.co/ODbczetTEG

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Desecration of the Quran is one of the most extreme acts of blasphemy that a Muslim can perpetrate and has been a trigger for violent reactions around the world. Several days ago, an angry mob burned a Hindu temple in Pakistan to the ground after rumors circulated that a Quran had been desecrated by one of its members.

Some atheists have tried to distance themselves from the offensive campaign, claiming that it’s a false flag operation perpetrated by Islamists or the Saudi security authorities designed to incite anger against atheists and smoke them out into the open. A counter campaign using the hashtag #BlocktheAccountofHafsatheAtheistFromMecca was also tweeted about 8,130 times in just six hours. On March 20, an Islamic hacker group that advocates for the implementation of Sharia law claimed to have penetrated the accounts of those who started the tearing up Qurans campaign, allegedly discovering that they were foreign agents.

Previous desecration of the Quran and defamation of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed have sparked worldwide protests. In July 2010, Terry Jones, the pastor of the Christian Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, announced he would burn 200 Qurans to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The threat sparked protests in the Middle East and Asia in which at least 20 people were killed. And in September 2012, “The Innocence of Muslims,” a 14-minute YouTube movie, led to protests in 63 countries and resulted in hundreds of injuries and more than 50 deaths, as well as a spate of attacks on diplomatic missions around the world.

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  • Fake pictures. Someone holding a piece of paper next to a picture on a wall. Most likely foreigner living in Saudi.

  • you say that the Religion of ISLAM is stuck in the dark ages but no one notices that it is the only Religion targeted with blasphemous and Insulting attacks. Have you ever heard a Muslim critisize a Christan or either tear up your Bible. I am a Muslim and Islam forbids us to insult others religions. We fight only when our Religion is insulted and offended and the way i see it all religious parties do the same.

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    • Are you serious? Have I ever heard of a muslim critisize a Christan or tear up aBible? Much worse: I see muslims killing Christians on a daily basis from Nigeria to Egypt, Syria, Iraq to Indonesia. I see therm burning down Chruches, destroying bibles and raping Christian women.You should be ashamed of your vile hypocrisy and bigotry.

    • You have NOT READ your koran, I guarantee. I have and it is a vile piece of work by the monster, Muhammad. You need to know the principle of ABROGATION, whereby Allah changes his mind! What God would make a mistake in the first place??Your imams and parents have lied to you but you are terrified of Allah, the monstrous creation of the cunning psychopath Muhammad; you are not permitted to question as that would send you to Allah’s hell, if you believe such nonsense. I pity the indoctrinated Muslim mind, living in mortal fear of the God Who Does Not Exist- what a waste of this wonderful life!

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      • You are lost and full of lies jimjjfox. A hater

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      • Yes, you are correct- I HATE your evil violent religion. You admit you have not read the evil koran. I suugest you do so.

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    • are you serious??, how many christians attacked in egypt and killed

  • out of all the religions Islam seems to be the only one stuck in the dark ages. It can’t seem to tolerate any dessenting views and calls for blood anytimes its feelings are hurt. Muslims really need to join the 21st century & learn to suck it up. 

  • I hate all this, hate it! hate it – hate it!! Seems like we just have to put up with these backward societies and hope for the best.  Yes we need to act against it, and stand up for reason and morality, but guess we have to do this amidst the backward dictatorships of religions and cultural traditions.Publicising attacks against their dictatorial books (Quoran, bible etc) is not a good avenue to take, and as one comment said, may even be an exercise in Islamic propaganda, which Islamists and suchlike are experts.

  • Arrogant. Animals. Atheists. They hate something so much that they have to act like children throwing tantrums – tearing books up and stomping on them. Does that not look like such an animalistic, uncivilized behavior? Perhaps even most children are better behaved than these sad, sad, human beings.I wonder why so many people are cheering on such atrocious behavior. This planet is seriously going to the dumps!

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    • so animals stomp on books? What about those who kill eachother over which holy book/god/sect is right? Much more animalistic in my view…so animals stomp on books? What about those who kill eachother over which holy book/god/sect is right? Much more animalistic in my view…

  • there actions are disgusting and only shows how degenerat there are as humans and probably worse as people scince thay have no respect at all to what a third of humanity holds dear to their heart . probably the relegion is bitter without them. Dont agree with a religion then fine .its your decesion and you are held acountant for it .But never disrespect and mock others and then act surprized and victimized when they react in any shape or form . That is hypocrisy.

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    • considering that much of that 3rd of humanity wants to kill them for simply believing what they believe i think they have good reason to be angry. Muslims want respect then perhaps they should start respecting other’s who may hold different views. 

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  • Rebel Rebel!  Fight against dogmas that block people from being healthy, mature, loving, beneficial humans.  I hold so much respect for those who live in these repressive societies and continue to live with a free mind.

  • Religion is harmful. May we all delete it from our lives and find peace through reason and brotherhood. Peace to all, there is no god. That means that you are the best!

    3 Replies - Reply Now
    • Yes, worship yourself, for there is no wiser being in existance.  Also, since no one is judging you (to do so is a modern crime in itself) you can do anything you want! “Go for it!” will be our utopian creed. 

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      • I really can’t tell if you’re joking or what. However, people that don’t worship a god usually murder the exact amount they want to. And that amount is 0%. If the only thing keeping somebody peaceful is the promise of an afterlife, then they may not be such a good person after all. Atheism or lack of belief doesn’t equal lawlessness. Have an excellent day. :)

    • This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Your consideration of the huge field of religion is reductive.  There is much that is good in it.  I am not speaking of Islam in particular, which I find disgusting and absurd.  But I am speaking of many good things you might find in most all religions.  Without relgion, there is not much that is interesting in history.  

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      • you are right partly, but then how much do you know about islam to call it absurd? or do you only know what the media says. what your friends say? do you know any muslim (good one) in person? most important point is Saudi arabia does not represent islam. So please dont base your opinions solely on the basis of the acts, opressions and behaviour of this place. thanks for understanding.

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      • And BTW your lame excuse that “Saudi arabia does not represent islam” is beyond ridiculous. Whenever you muslims get exposed for your islamic backwardnes and bigorty, you claim “this is not true islam”. So if a country like KSA, which has sharia law in its purest sense of the word, incl. beheading, crucifixation etc, does not practice real islam, which country does? Mohammed himself beheaded, raped, stole, lied, enslaved, tortured etc, so I guess following his example shouldn’t be too difficult for you muslims. The news show it every day and it is no wonder every muslim country without exception violates human rights and is backward and unable to survive without the help of advanced non-muslim nations.

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    • so free your mind means spitting on a book and stomping it .. i say its the society and the culture there which tortured them to an extent that such acts have been comitted..


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