The Case of Non-religious Asylum Seekers


  • Alan Gilbert Nixon Western Sydney University



Non-religion, Atheism, Refugees, Asylum Seekers


In the last ten years there has been increasing focus on the plight of nonreligious and atheist peoples being persecuted in various countries. Some of this focus has come from cases brought to the attention of atheist/humanist organisations such as Atheist Alliance International (AAI), the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and local groups. Cases are being reported by the non-religious themselves, from within countries where their views are not acceptable, potentially ending in imprisonment or death. For example, cases have been reported within Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Morocco and Indonesia. There have been general concerns over the status of non-religious and atheist refugees due to the wording of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The UN has recently (2016) confirmed the inclusion of non-religious and atheist refugees under the 'religion' criteria, and some countries, such as the UK, Australia and Canada, have accepted refugees based on persecution due to atheism. However, atheism as a criteria is not clearly accepted by all countries of asylum. This article will look at atheist asylum cases, the need for asylum and the structural difficulties faced by atheist/non-religious asylum seekers.

Author Biography

Alan Gilbert Nixon, Western Sydney University

Alan Nixon is Postdoctoral Researcher in Sociology of Religion (Secular, Non-Religion and Atheism Focused) in the Religion and Society Research Cluster at Western Sydney University. His research interests are in Sociology of Religion/Nonreligion and Digital Sociology. Alan's latest publications are 'Australia: Conflict not Competition', in The Atheist Bus Campaign (2016), 'Going with the Flow: Indigenous Non-religion not Atheism', in Religion and Non-Religion Among Australian Aboriginal Peoples (2016) and 'A Place to Stand: Digital Sociology and the Archimedean Effect', in the Journal of Sociology (2017). He is also currently producing two books on digital sociology and religion (SAGE and de Gruyter, forthcoming 2019) and a monograph on the New Atheism (Bloomsbury, forthcoming, 2019).


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How to Cite

Nixon, A. G. (2019). The Case of Non-religious Asylum Seekers. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 31(2), 113–148.