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Rationalist International joins the campaign to release Iranian atheist Soheil Arabi

Rationalist International has joined a campaign for the release of an atheist blogger arrested in Iran.

Soheil Arabi, a critic of Iran's Islamic republic, was reportedly arrested on 2 January. During his arrest, he was beaten so badly that he had a heart attack and was taken to hospital, according to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB).

Arabi is being held in Greater Tehran Prison. According to CEBM, his life "is at grave risk" in light of Iran's crackdown on dissenters since the uprisings sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini last year.

Iran has publicly executed four protesters and arrested over 19,000 people over anti-Islamic Republic demonstrations. Over 500 have been killed during protests.

Arabi has faced continuous persecution for his blogging and social media activities. In 2013 he was sentenced to death on charges of "insulting the Prophet of Islam" in Facebook posts that were critical of the Iranian state. Due to public pressure, the sentence was commuted to several years imprisonment and two years of mandatory study of Islamic theology.

In 2021 he was sentenced to another two years in prison for "spreading propaganda with the intention of disturbing public opinion".

In 2017 Arabi won Reporters Without Borders's Press Freedom Prize. The prize honours courageous and independent journalists who have faced threats or imprisonment for their work and who have challenged the abuse of power.

Rationalist International had joined the worldwide calls for Arabi’s immediate and safe release.

Sanal Edamaruku, President of Rationalist International, expressed grave concern for the wellbeing of Iranian ex-Muslim and atheist political prisoner Soheil Arabi and offered to politically sponsor him. The world cannot remain silent in the face of the brutal suppression of dissent by Iranian authorities, which includes threats of violence, imprisonment, and execution. Edamaruku calls for universal condemnation of such actions and demands Arabi's immediate and safe release.

Rationalist International has joined a coalition of over 40 human rights organisations, coordinated by CEMB, in calling for Arabi's release in a joint statement (below).

Joint statement from the campaign to #FreeSoheil

We, the undersigned ex-Muslim, atheist, rationalist, secularist, and freethought organisations, have joined together to politically sponsor the well-known Iranian atheist and ex-Muslim Soheil Arabi, who was re-arrested from his home on 2 January 2023 by the Islamic Republic of Iran's security forces.

Sources have informed us that he was violently beaten during the arrest, denied much-needed medicine, and moved to an unknown location.

We are extremely concerned about his well-being given the increased risk of execution for many protestors and critics in an effort to quell the revolutionary uprising since the murder of Mahsa Jina Amini. As a long-term political prisoner previously on death row, Soheil's life is at grave risk.

A political sponsorship system has proven effective in protecting Iranian political prisoners. As Soheil Arabi's political sponsors, we will continue to advocate and mobilise support and solidarity for him and put pressure on the Islamic regime of Iran to free him immediately and unconditionally.

Atheist Republic | Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain | Ateizm Dernegi (Association of Atheism, Turkey) | Ateizm Dernegi International Foundation | Atheist Ireland | Atheist Refugee Relief | Bread and Roses TV | Center for Inquiry Canada | Center for Inquiry | Freedom From Religion Foundation | Central Committee of Ex-Muslims in Scandinavia | Centre for Civic Courage, Croatia | Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany | Council of Ex-Muslims of Singapore | Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka | Ex-Muslims of Netherlands | Ex-Muslims Of Norway |Ex-Muslims of Toronto | Faithless Hijabi |FEMEN |Freethought Lebanon |Giordano Bruno Foundation |Humanist Ottawa| Inara association of Tunisian atheists and freethinkers| Indian Rationalist Association |International League of Non-Religious and Atheists | Peter Tatchell Foundation| Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation | Kent Community Secular Alliance |Liberals Mauritania |Livonia Arabic Salon |Manaarah Initiative | Muslimish | Arab Humanists USA| National Secular Society| One Law for All| Quebec Humanist Association| Rationalist International | Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science| Secular Connexion Séculière| Secular Underground Network, a project of the Fix Foundation | Secularism is a Women’s Issue| Southall Black Sister

What can you do?

CEMB and Rationalist International encourage supporters to take the following action to support Soheil Arabi:

  • Join the public protests in London on February 4th, 2023. Details below-


  • February 4th, 2023, Global

  • London, 5:30-6:30 pm, Russell Square

In lieu of organizing a protest

  • Supporters/members could post a photo of themselves on social media with a sign using the hashtags #FreeSoheil #SoheilArabi.

  • Raise awareness on social media using the hashtags #WhereIsSoheilArabi #FreeSoheilArabi

  • Send a letter to your elected representative asking them to put pressure on the Islamic regime

  • Write to the embassy of the Islamic Republic calling on them to release Soheil and all political prisoners


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