Australian atheists under attack
Cyber attacks smite atheist websites
Author Richard Dawkins, who wrote The God Delusion, lends his support to an atheism advertising campaign. Photo: Reuters
Australian atheists are under attack, with the websites of both the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Global Atheist Convention knocked offline in a major cyber attack yesterday afternoon.
The "distributed denial of service" attacks flooded the websites with traffic, forcing them offline about 5.20pm yesterday.
As of this morning, the foundation had still not been able to restore the websites.
The attacks may be related to the Global Atheist Convention, which is being held in Melbourne in March next year. Speakers include Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and comedy writer Catherine Deveny.
About 1000 tickets have been sold so far through the Global Atheist Convention website, which was set up, and is operated, by the AFA.
The AFA is billing the event as the largest gathering of atheists in Australian history but ticket sales have had to be halted for now due to the cyber attack.
David Nicholls, president of the AFA, said it was not yet clear whether the attacks were motivated by religion or conservative Christian groups' anger at the AFA's lobbying for a more secular society.
However, the fact that two separate atheism-related websites were hit suggested the attack was targeted at atheists.
"We have been informed that the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Global Atheist Convention sites were the specific target of the attacks," Nicholls said, adding he had reported the incident to the Australian Federal Police.
"This may not be just an attack on atheism, but an attack on freedom of speech."
"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck