I come from a very devout Catholic family which has also accepted the fact that after I started asking questions and not given the desired answers I moved towards agnosticism and eventually atheism.

If I say I have suffered a lot of discrimination because of my lack of faith I would be lying. There have been some nasty comments and attitudes such as that of a priest who told a friend of mine that I’m not really an atheist but “supperv” (proud), and a guy who refused to play music with me after he learned I was not Catholic. However, nothing devastating.

Right now, I see a lot of intolerance towards Muslims, many times by people who never even bothered talk to a Muslim unless there was no other option (such as at the place of work).

This isn’t new.

When I was in Primary school, this same kind of intolerance (or even worse) was directed towards Jehovah Witnesses. The worst victims of this ignorance were the kids. For many they were considered a little more than lepers, waiting for the right moment to convert you towards their perverted beliefs. Nearly every house used to have a yellow sticker prohibiting people from these “sects” from knocking on the door. Our house had one too, however, at least I was never told these people are “evil” or “doing it for money” like many fellow kids in school were told. For me they were presented as “wasting your time” (which up to a certain extent was true since no one in my family had any intention of changing their religion).

Growing up and changing my own beliefs helped me get rid of my own prejudices (learned mostly from school) on people of this “sect”. So did my interest in learning about different religions. I must also admit that I prefer the attitude of Jehovah Witnesses than some Catholics. The few people I know who are members of this “sect” are true believers that do not follow the Bible only when it suits them.

While the stigma of being a Jehovah Witness has decreased (though definitely not abolished), today Muslims are the main victims. Like the case with Jehovah Witnesses, the main offender is prejudice, coming not only from parents and kids at school but international media. I won’t delve into that like I did in other blogs, but one thing all Muslims I’ve talked to about their beliefs and attitudes that seem to agree in is that “terrorists aren’t real Muslims, they can’t be. What they do is in direct opposition of the teachings of the Koran”

P.S When I’m using the word sect here it has nothing to do with the possible negative connotations of the word. A sect is nothing more than a religious minority within some particular religion.