When asked to account for their very serious wrongdoing over many years, a common response from the current so-called Board of Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has been moral blackmail. They claim that they are spending all their time helping atheists “at risk”, and that if they are required to take time away from that work, then “those people will die”. They argue against accountability for their own actions on the basis of a false dichotomy between either answering questions about their wrongdoing, or else saving atheists lives. According to their moral blackmail, their members must allow them to avoid answering questions about their appalling behaviour, because seeking accountability for corruption on the AAI Board is synonymous with endangering atheists “at risk”.
In the comments quoted below from the recent AAI General Meeting, Tonoy Emroz Alam (a current self-styled Director on the so-called AAI Board) describes this kind of moral blackmail:
“They’re pressing hundreds of questions, for years we’ve been answering them and those questions that are important are already in the Disclosure Document. Like do you have any idea? Like, you answer 100 questions and out of that hundred question they will find a little something and they’ll make another question out of that. These people have become obsessed with that. And okay for these people I have a very clear message actually. Go get a life, man … I want to let you know that we have asylum cases all across the world, we have like 18 or 19 blasphemy cases right now. Those people will die, okay.”Quote from Tonoy Emroz Alam at the recent AAI General Meeting
AAI had recently published a ‘Disclosure Document’ in which they admitted that they had been lying for years about very serious wrongdoing. They explicitly invited questions about that document from their members. They arranged a General Meeting to answer the questions that their members had submitted (there were nowhere near 100 questions, or even half that number). At this General Meeting, the AAI Board then argued that they shouldn’t be required to answer any questions about their wrongdoing, because “people will die” if they do so. Recent events have now demonstrated the utter insincerity of the AAI Board on this issue. In fact, it is now verifiably the case that if anyone is putting atheists “at risk”, it is the AAI Board themselves.
This article in OnlySky describes the full details of the latest scandal, and it is well worth reading the entire scope of the AAI dishonesty. A brief summary of the events is as follows:
- Barry Purcell published an article in OnlySky, which quoted a false and dishonest contribution to the AAI General Meeting, and named the speaker.
- Bill Flavell as Secretary of AAI, contacted Barry on the morning of Saturday 28th January, demanding that this name be redacted from the OnlySky article. Bill Flavell reported that the named person was being “hunted by the Pakistani authorities” and that he was now “at risk”. As Secretary of AAI, Bill Flavell said that Barry must “redact the real name urgently” and stated that, “we know what happens to atheist bloggers in Pakistan, and now [redacted] is extremely afraid”. To emphasise the urgency, Bill Flavell also contacted friends of Barry and asked them to get in touch with Barry so that the redaction could be applied as quickly as possible.
- Barry was extremely concerned that he may be the cause of something awful happening to a named person, and he applied the redaction immediately. He also informed Bill Flavell about his source for the name that he published, which was a public page on the AAI website. This page on the AAI web site displays the same name in full, underneath a photograph of the named person. In fact that page was directly linked to from Barry’s article, which Bill Flavell had complained about.
- The entire AAI Board (including Tonoy Emroz Alam) were then informed directly about both this public page on the AAI web site, and also about a Geoff Breeze podcast in which Geoff had displayed the same page. Every member of the so-called AAI Board knew that the person’s photograph and name were displayed on their own web site. Every member of the self-styled AAI Board knew that Geoff had streamed his computer screen on YouTube, while he browsed the AAI web page containing the person’s name and photograph. They all knew that Geoff’s podcast and the offending page on their own web site remained openly available.
- Bill Flavell responded directly to Barry acknowledging that he had seen Barry’s quick reaction. However, at the time of writing almost two weeks later, the name that supposedly caused AAI so much concern when it appeared in OnlySky, still remains on the public AAI web site underneath the named person’s photograph. Despite the entire AAI Board being informed about this issue (including Tonoy Emroz Alam) this page on the AAI web site can still be found today using a simple Google search. Neither Tonoy Emroz Alam nor anyone else from AAI has either bothered to remove the page from their own web site, or bothered to contact Geoff Breeze. Importantly, Geoff has publicly stated that he will redact his podcast if AAI feel that is necessary.
It is perfectly clear from the behaviour of AAI, that publishing the name on OnlySky did not put that person “at risk” at all. If that were the case, AAI would have immediately deleted the name and photograph from their own web site, and then urgently contacted Geoff Breeze. Now almost two weeks on, it is entirely clear that the purported requirement to “redact the real name urgently” was utterly insincere. If it had been in any way honest, then the people currently causing the named person to be “extremely afraid” would be AAI themselves. The whole episode demonstrates the entirely false and manufactured concern that the so-called AAI Board can express for atheists “at risk”. In truth they can invent such pseudo-concerns, because their real concerns are about the legitimacy of their own positions. They use stories about atheists “at risk” to demand redactions from stories that highlight their illegitimacy, and to avoid answering questions from their own members about their legitimacy.
This is not to say that some of the causes that AAI raises funds to support are not worthy and deserving. I’m sure they are. I have contributed to several of them. The problem isn’t that the causes are never noble. The problem is that some noble causes are being hijacked and abused by ignoble people for nefarious purposes.
AAI know that their moral blackmail about atheists “at risk” is insincere. They know it is nonsense to suggest that “people will die” if they are required to answer for their corrupt behaviour. The purpose of this rhetoric is not to help atheists who are “extremely afraid” of coming to harm, but rather to help themselves, because they are extremely afraid of answering 4 simple questions.
There are not 100 questions. There are 4 questions. Tonoy Emroz Alam should just answer the 4 questions, since doing so is no more likely to cause “people to die” than reading Barry’s article in OnlySky. Tonoy Emroz Alam will not answer the questions though. He’ll just continue to insist that anyone who asks him 4 questions is trying to distract him, so that atheists will die.