Death threatened Humanist denied UK Asylum because he didn’t know who Plato was

Humanist Society Scotland has expressed it’s dismay at a Home Office asylum decision which stated the claimant couldn’t be a Humanist as he didn’t know enough about Plato or other classical philosophers.

Hamza bin Walayat is a Pakistani Humanist who has lived in the UK since 2011 with his long term British partner. He has received numerous death threats from people in Pakistan for leaving Islam and being an ‘apostate’ and living his life as a Humanist, Hamza is a member of Humanists UK.

During an interview as part of his assessment process, the Home Office summary of which has been seen by International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) [which Humanist Society Scotland is a member of] and Humanists UK, he was subjected to an extraordinary line of questioning including his knowledge of classical philosophy.

The Home Office sought to test the ‘non-religiousness’ of Hamza by asking him to name ancient Greek philosophers who had held humanistic worldviews. When he failed to name Plato and Aristotle, it was deemed that his knowledge was ‘not of a level that would be expected of a genuine follower of humanism.’

IHEU, in their 2017 Freedom of Thought Report, listed Pakistan as one of the most dangerous places for Humanists to live in the world. There have been state sanctioned arrests, abductions and mob violence, including murders, of Humanists, athiests and other non-religious people after a government “crackdown on Blasphemy”.

Commenting on the case, Campaigns and Communications Manager of Humanist Society Scotland, Fraser Sutherland said:

“While we are concerned about this cases impact on Hamza’s safety if deported, it also highlights a wider discriminatory approach being displayed by the Home Office in their approach to dealing with non-religious asylum cases.

“The Equality Act 2010 is very clear that references to protection of religion also include non-religious beliefs, such as Humanism. The Home Office however stated that Hamza had no right to asylum because his persecution was not because he held a religion, a serious misinterpretation of the law.

“The requirements the Home Office put on Hamza with regard to Classical philosophy to “show he was a Humanist” would be laughable if it were not about something so serious. The Home Office must engage with the UK’s Humanist movement to better understand who Humanists are and not rely on what appears on a quick google search of Humanism.”


Individuals can support Hamza’s case by signing a petition on Humanists UK website.


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