Atheists in many countries face the threat of jail time for their beliefs. Even more severely, 13 countries currently put atheists to death under charges such as blasphemy and apostasy (leaving a particular religion). The widening availability of the internet has made it possible for people with "dangerous" beliefs to find one another and congregate in the face of oppressive governments.
Facebook is one such place for atheists to share their philosophies. Recently, however, Facebook elected to remove six Arabic speaking atheist pages. The pressure to censor such pages likely came from those that follow fundamentalist Islam. There were mass reportings of Arabic atheist pages by fundamentalist Islam pages. Shortly after the brigading, Facebook removed the controversial pages.
The easiest way to stop people from changing their minds is to prevent them from seeing other points of view. If a religion cannot stand up to criticism, then that is of no fault of the critiquer. Atheists are continually silenced by those who fear their ideas. Omar Bataweel of Yemen was a 17-year-old boy who was lynched due to his Facebook posts about atheism. His criticisms of Islam infuriated many. After receiving death threats, he was dragged from his home and shot.
The Atheist Alliance – Middle-East and North Africa, or AA-MENA, is currently protesting Facebook's decision. They popularized #FacebookvsFreeSpeech in hopes of bringing more attention to the issue. AA-MENA hope to accomplish the following:
1. Reactivate the pages that were removed due to intensive, unfounded reporting activities
2. Convince Facebook to respect the rights of irreligious individuals and groups in the MENA region, as well as respect the freedom of thought and expression
3. Convince Facebook to reform its standard procedures in collecting and addressing reports in a way that ensures a just evaluation of any alleged violation of Community Standards
Nothing in the Middle East will change if there is no exchange of ideas. Free speech is not currently safe in the Middle East, and it never will be unless online sites like Facebook refuse to censor new ideas.