As an Iranian, coming out was not easy. I had struggled for almost 8 years before I stated my views on god and religion publicly.
I was born and raised in “Islamic Republic” of Iran, and moved to Australia in 2013. Although I have been an atheist for a few years, I have only recently overcome my inner and outer struggles of being an atheist publicly! So here I am!
All those struggles rooted in my fear of god, hell, damnation and chastisement and the Iranian government, which is the scariest one of course.
The Iranian education system is based on the doctrine of fear of God and his punishment. So schools and media are constantly bombarding people with the pessimistic ideas of Islam.
My deconversion was not an abrupt process. As a child I believed in Allah out of fear. I remember praying for my parents and begging God not to send them to Hell. I remember crying out of fear, I remember doing rituals during Mourning of Muharram when I wore black clothes, did chest beating and swung chains onto my shoulders until they bled. Later, in high school, I started to grew out of these dogmatic ideas. I became familiar with Nietzche, Bertrand Russell, Kafka and Richard Dawkins. Then, I entered a prolonged stage of skepticism. Finally, during my undergrad years, as I was young and rebellious, I got myself in trouble. I was arrested in an arbitrary arrest after a Green movement demonstration and was taken to a secret detention centre where I was left in a solitary cell with one book, Quran. Since I had nothing to do during those 28 days, except listening to a guy crying in the ajoining room, I read The Quran more than a few times. First, I read it as a holy book, word of Allah, and begged him for freedom (ironic!) but then I read it as a work of fiction. That’s when I realized I had never believed. I had believed only to conform with others. I had believed because others told me to. Those days of my life, I learned to be a realist. Someone who doesn’t wait for an imaginary being to manipulate him. I became a rational atheist who believed in science rather than a poetry scripted by some men 1500 years ago in the Arabia.
Now, here I stand with an urge to tell my story, should it stop anyone from going through what I have.