Atheist Refugee Assistance Program
Turkey shelters the greatest number of refugees on the planet. A significant number of them are “political refugees” who had to flee their homelands just because they’ve renounced Islam. The recent efforts by the ‘Atheist Support Network’ of Atheist Alliance International and the ‘Secular Rescue Program’ of Centre for Inquiry inspired Ateizm Dernegi to take a more active role in assisting the non-believing asylum seekers currently living in Turkey.
First, we would like to remind you that Ateizm Dernegi (AD) is a very small NGO. We are around 300 members. We keep our doors open with the support of our founders and members. Having said that, we provide a much-needed service to the non-believer refugees in Turkey. The aim of this program is to assist the non-Turkish nonbeliever refugees in Turkey who are running from persecution and in need of assistance to start-over a new life. We started our preparations in 2019, and launched the program in August 2020.
Due to language barriers most refugees and asylum seekers have problems in terms of seeking/finding a suitable home, roommate, or work due to their disbelief in a Muslim dominated society. In the case of being a free-thinking, openly-secular, non-religious infidel in today’s pro-Islamic Turkey, finding a room, roommate, shared home, house, or work is extremely hard. Even if you find one, when your non-believing identity is discovered, the risk of losing your home/roommate/job is very high. As directors of the NGO we know this from first-hand experience. Yet, Turkey is not all about that. There are also many like-minded Turkish non-believers, open-minded secularists and non-religious minorities who are willing to help atheist asylum seekers and refugees in terms of accommodation and work. We saw that there was a need for building such a network to address this issue.
With the help of AAI, CFI and Ex-Muslims of North America, we have created a fund to provide a much-needed service of legal aid and assistance to atheist asylum seekers and refugees who are currently in Turkey. This fund is to pay for the salaries of the two ARAP Case Managers. Our staff takes care of the most common refugee needs such as providing legal assistance, and help to find a suitable accommodation, and a job. Our case managers speak Arabic, Persian, Turkish and English.
Who can apply?
Atheist Refugee Assistance Program is aimed to help to the refugees in Turkey who escaped from the religious persecution in their own countries to build a new life. Only asylum seekers and refugees who had to leave their home due to being a non-believer, and clearly stated this issue in their immigration documents can benefit from this service.
What do we not do?
Unfortunately, within the scope of this program, it is NOT POSSIBLE to provide any financial support. The aim of this program is to provide assistance in the following fields:
Help finding a place to live or a roommate to stay with for atheist asylum seekers/refugees in Turkey. Helping applicants to share their ads on local and online platforms, translating the necessary documents, guiding and following the application process.
Help finding jobs for the atheist asylum seekers/refugees in Turkey. Translating the applicants’ curriculum vitae (CV) into Turkish. Preparing templates for applicants to apply for jobs, and guiding them through the process to set interviews.
3. LEGAL HELP
Accepting applications from atheist asylum seekers/refugees for legal aid. After investigating and confirming the authenticity of the applications, AD takes over the legal process from there on and provides legal support through pro bono lawyers.
4. LETTERS etc.
Issuing letter of recommendation, letter of support, or letter of verification to the Turkish immigration division or UNHCR on behalf of the asylum seekers/refugees about their claim. An additional verification may be required from a trusted secondary source in the original country to verify the authenticity of the applicant’s request.
Assisting the applicants to prepare documents regarding the allowance, grant, and scholarship applications to be sent to national and international organizations, funds, institutions, associations, secular/humanist/atheist charities.