An atheist group in Russia has been organized to help people fight religious discrimination.
A Facebook page called Aksi and its volunteers have already raised more than 1 million rubles ($7,000) for a fund that will be used to support atheists.
“The main goal is to fight against religious persecution,” said Alexey Izhak, a volunteer coordinator with the group.
“We don’t have money to buy a new laptop, but we do have the money to provide support for people in need.”
Aksid, which means “god” in Russian, has a large presence on social media, with more than 20,000 followers.
The group started with a Facebook page dedicated to the group’s mission, and quickly grew to more than 70,000.
Its first public meeting was held in September, when members announced their plans to create a non-profit organization with a focus on atheism.
“Aksi is going to be able to provide a safe space for people to express their atheism, their religious beliefs and their views,” said Izhakov.
“They will be able [to] express it without having to fear for their safety.”
Izhik said the organization would also provide financial support for research, outreach and education.
The first issue of Aksir, the Russian newspaper that published the group, published a post on Friday announcing the formation of Aysi.
The article stated that Aksik had created Aysis to “help people express their atheist, secular and religious beliefs” without fear of persecution.
“In the future, we are planning to create an organization that will provide support to the [non-religious] citizens who want to live a secular life,” the post said.
The organization’s goal is not to replace religious institutions or preach a message of atheism, Izhaks statement said.
Rather, Aksiyi aims to “support the people who want freedom of religion, and their right to live according to their conscience.”
Aysiya is also involved in a Facebook group called the Freedom of the Mind, where people can share information about atheism and religious freedom.
The post on Facebook also included an invitation to anyone who wants to join to contact Izhakh.
The website for Aysias Facebook page, titled “Anatheists and Religious Freedom,” said that the organization was created with the support of the Russian government and its ministries of religious affairs.
The Facebook page for Aksias mission states that it is a nonsectarian, non-denominational organization.
The page also says that Aysiyis mission will support and advocate for the rights of all people to live without persecution.
Izhack said the group is “not a religious group, but a nonreligious organization” and that it was formed “in response to the state of atheism.”
In August, Izak told The Associated Press that Aydina, a Russian Orthodox church, is not a target of the group and has been a supporter of the organization.
Izachs family said the church has provided him with financial support and a place to stay.
Izbor, a nonresident of Russia, is a volunteer with Aksiai.
He said he does not have a problem with Izhag’s organization.
“There are no religious leaders, no clerics, no rabbis,” Izbors statement said, referring to the Orthodox Jewish community in Russia.
“All I see is Aksis mission to help the people to fight religious oppression.”
Izhev, the Aysim activist, said that there are “no organized religions in Russia” and “religions are a problem for every Russian.”