A couple of weeks ago I met a man on Twitter who is an ex-Muslim atheist living in Saudi Arabia.  He and I have talked a little, and at the end of last week I asked him if he'd be willing to write about his experiences for this blog; he very kindly obliged.

I am not going to give my new friend's name, because atheists in Saudi Arabia can find themselves in genuine, mortal danger if they are discovered to be apostates.  I find parts of his account heartbreaking, and others hopeful and inspiring; as with Bethany's story from the other week, though, I was struck by the similarity between my friend's experiences and those of so many others I've spoken to.  It's a strange and in some ways a very moving reflection that however different our cultures and backgrounds may be, we atheists are often so similar in how we think and how we came to reject our indoctrination.

My scepticism and outspokenness are so much parts of me that I struggle even to imagine what it must be like to be required to suppress them for my own safety.  I am glad to have met my new friend, and honoured that he consented to write this for me.  It's a reminder to us in Europe and other places of just how lucky we are to live where we do, and of some of the reasons the fight against religion really is important despite what many of our detractors try to tell us.  But this also fills me with tremendous hope for the future; through modern technology, we are able to speak to people, share experiences and support each other from distances of thousands of miles.  I believe this new ability may in time bring about the start of an enlightenment in parts of the world where religion currently dominates.

My friend submits this with apologies for his English; I will say, though, that those apologies are entirely unnecessary as his own words needed only the most minor of tweaks from me.  I would like to thank him most sincerely for sharing this with me, and for allowing me to share it with you.

"The story of how I became an atheist.