Lubna Yaseen: An Atheist’s Escape to Freedom


Oct 20, 2018 – 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM

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Lubna Yaseen hails originally from Baghdad. She is an engineer by education, a truth-telling rebel by character and vocation. Although raised under Islam she never shared her family’s beliefs and the online chats she has done about these beliefs earned her death threats from local Shiite groups and episodes of physical assault in Baghdad which forced her to go into hiding. In June 2017 she made her way to the West. She now lives in San Diego where she is pursuing her master’s in chemical engineering.

Yaseen would still be at risk if it weren’t for the actions of Secular Rescue, which helped her escape to California and where she is now waiting for her asylum claim to be approved. Secular Rescue is “an underground railroad of sorts for non-believers in countries where simply expressing doubt about religious belief is a criminal offense or where it may lead to grave physical harm,” according to Robyn Blumner, the president and CEO of the CFI.

Secular Rescue does not just face challenges abroad in militantly religious countries; due to some unnervingly resilient biases, implicit prejudice against atheists is still prevalent in ostensibly secular Western countries, making it difficult to raise the necessary diplomatic support there for people like Yaseen and in many countries across the globe, the danger of expressing non-belief comes directly from the state.

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