A Milestone in International Freethought

A press release from CFI

The Center for Inquiry is delighted to announce the formation of its first branch in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. CFI-Pakistan will be operated by “Emanuel Enoch,” and work to promote science, reason, and secular humanism in a country beset by religious extremism and sectarian violence.

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Pakistan is a flashpoint for almost all of the core issues of concern to the Center for Inquiry. In Pakistan, blasphemy is a crime, and a charge regularly invoked to persecute atheists, secularists, and political and religious dissidents. It is a deeply religious country, with extremist forms of Islam holding enormous sway over the public and the government. At the same time, pseudoscientific medical practices are common, as is belief in things like witchcraft and anti-vaccination conspiracies. It is a country that badly needs an infusion of reason, science, and humanist values.

Now a flag has been planted for humanism and skepticism with the founding of CFI-Pakistan, a new international branch of the U.S.-based Center for Inquiry-Transnational. But such an effort is not with out great risk. CFI-Pakistan’s founder will work under a pseudonym, Emanuel Enoch. He has already established an online presence, and with support from the Center for Inquiry, he will begin to carry out the mission of CFI to his country. It is a courageous step, one fraught with danger, and CFI’s leadership praised this brave and ambitious initiative.

“The establishment of a Center for Inquiry branch in Pakistan is a watershed moment in the global struggles for free expression, and against the harmful and often violent state impositions of religion and magical thinking,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI. “We have high hopes for CFI-Pakistan, that as it grows and strengthens, it will educate and advocate on issues ranging from the rights to free expression and belief, to the dangers of superstition and theocracy.”

“Emanuel Enoch is remarkably brave to take on this task. Pakistan is notorious for its hostility to secularism and minority beliefs, both from the state as well as the general public,” added Lindsay. “He has our support, as well as our admiration for his courage.”

You can visit CFI-Pakistan’s Facebook page, and we will keep you updated as to its progress as it embarks on its mission.

CFI maintains branches in several countries around the world, including CFI-UK, led by philosopher Stephen LawCFI-Uganda, which emphasizes education and interfaith dialogue; CFI-Poland, which is fighting the country’s blasphemy law; and CFI-Kenya, which recently launched a Humanist Orphans Project to educate, clothe and protect children abandoned due to belief in witchcraft. CFI’s international programs are coordinated by Bill Cooke. A full list of CFI chapters and branches in the U.S. and around the world   is available here.

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.


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