Last week, an atheist in India was murdered for his lack of belief in any gods.
H Farook lived in the Indian state of Tami Nadu, on the southwest coast of India. Farook was known for making posts on Facebook criticizing religion. Additionally, he had over 400 local people in his WhatsApp group called “Allahu Murdhath.”
According to Scroll.in:
“There were both personal meetings and multiple phone calls from them as a request and a warning,” an unidentified police office told the daily. “He [Farook] ignored them and went ahead. Finally, it was his public statement of raising his children atheists had provoked them.”
The post involved was likely a picture of his children holding signs saying “Kadavul illai, Kadavul illai, Kadavul illai,” which translates to “No god, No god, No god.”
The [Deccan Chroncile](Deccan Chroncile), which referred to Farook as an “outspoken rationalist,” said that just prior to Farook’s murder on March 16th, he received a call around 11:00 pm and left his house shortly thereafter. Farook was surrounded by five or more people, who then stabbed him to death. While the assailants fled the scene on Thursday,[ at least two]( at least two) have turned themselves over to authorities.
Farook leaves behind a wife and two children.
While the details are still coming in, the putative reason for the murder appears to be due to Farook being an atheist and sharing his views publicly. But this isn’t the first time, and sadly won’t be the last, where ideology alone has caused tragedy.
According to the[ 2011 census]( 2011 census), Hinduism is the majority religion in India, with about 80% of the population. Islam is a far second at about 14%, leaving under 5% claiming belief in another religion. A main facet in Hindiusm is the caste system, of which there are four levels: Brahmin (highest level), Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Shudras (lowest level). While in the US, Hinduism is mistakenly glorified and thought of as peaceful, there is a long history of shunning those who intermingle between castes, and even [honor killings](honor killings).
The entire premise of the caste system is that your place in your current life is a product of your behavior in your past life. So if you are a “good Hindu,” then you will be better off when you are reincarnated. If you’re a “bad Hindu,” you are re-born into a lower caste, or possibly even an animal (because that makes sense and isn’t ridiculous at all). And as a result of the gods making this determination, their position in the caste is permanent, meaning it’s pointless, if not dangerous, for you to try to improve your own position or help someone in a lower caste. And if you question the rationality behind Hinduism, you’re clearly not a “good Hindu,” so you risk being reincarnated into a lower caste.
A consistent feature of all religions is that they control people through threats and/or violence. In Christianity, if you sin (and don’t make it in time to the priest to promise how sorry you are), you go to hell. In Islam, apostasy is [punishable by death](punishable by death). In Hinduism, you might end up being reborn as a rat. It’s manipulative, controlling, nonsensical, and fucked up.
I’ve said for a while now that violence is never an appropriate reaction to combat ideology. It doesn’t accomplish anything and is not going to change anyone’s views. You simply can’t use violence as a response to ideological differences. It doesn’t matter if it’s a theist, an atheist, or saying the more reprehensible nonsense you can imagine. Unless they are instructing people to be physically violent, a physically violent response is not appropriate.
Condoning or encouraging violence in response to ideological differences leads to awful situations like Farook’s murder – where a group of people murdered him for his ideology.
The reason people like myself consistently speak out against religion is because of situations just like this. Farook is undoubtedly one of many non-believers in India, but most feel pressure from society to stay quiet or are genuinely afraid for their own lives (as evidenced here).
It is our responsibility to exercise the privilege of being able to criticize religion for those who cannot.
Special thanks to friend of the page Rahul for making me aware of Farook’s story.