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Declaration of Celebration of Dissent adopted at Celebrating Dissent Conference 2022, Cologne

Saturday 3 September 2022



As atheists, agnostics, ex-Muslims and freethinkers we stand for a world in which all human beings enjoy freedom of expression and conscience, and freedom from fear and want. [1]

We claim our freedom from religion, from superstition.

We claim our freedom to love and live as we choose, to creativity and to enjoy the benefits of scientific and human progress.

We affirm our right to act with reason and conscience.

Apostasy and blasphemy are fundamental rights protected by freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression and are grounded in the universality of rights which apply to all human beings everywhere.

Our freedoms depend on our rights to atheism, apostasy and blasphemy; on the right to be free from religion and to criticize Islam and any other religion.

We reject apostasy, blasphemy and religious laws as grave violations of rights and call for their immediate abolition.

We reject the religious-Right of all stripes. The rule of theocrats is the end of and antithesis to democratic politics, free thought and expression and basic rights, particularly of women and ethnic, sexual and religious minorities.

We reject and condemn xenophobia, bigotry and racism against non-believers and believers.

We reject cancel culture, self-righteous intolerance and a patronizing defence of ‘hurt sensibilities’ that aim to silence blasphemers and suppress rational discourse.

We reject the criminalization of the right to asylum and claim the right to protection for those of us fleeing persecution. Asylum is a human right recognized in international and national laws. Governments are duty-bound to protect those fleeing persecution.

We affirm that freedom of expression (as long as it is not inciting violence) is a bedrock of human rights and progress. It is a necessity, particularly for those challenging the powerful, sacred and taboo.

We affirm that the struggle taking place in the world today is not a clash of civilizations but a clash between theocrats on the one hand and secularists on the other.

We want to live in a world where believers and non-believers are respected as human beings but where beliefs can be challenged and even mocked without fear. A world where doubt and dissent are seen as integral to the human quest for truth rather than expressions to be censored and silenced under the guise of hurt sentiments or ‘Islamophobia.’

We want to live in a world where secularism or laïcité, the separation of religion from the state, law, education and public policy, is considered a fundamental principle and human right, integral to the fulfilment of our freedoms.

We claim for ourselves a world where no one is shunned, exiled, imprisoned, tortured or killed for their conscience.

We claim for ourselves a world where blasphemy, apostasy and dissent are celebrated.


[1Echoing the words of the preamble to the UDHR: ‘Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.’ The UDHR does not mention God or any divinity.

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