(Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)
Atheist Alliance International (AAI), a global federation of secular groups, has been forced to suspend its worldwide atheist census launched over the weekend after a DoS (denial of service) attack prevented visitors from accessing its website.
"We do not know who was behind the attack, but it's a reasonable conclusion that they do not like atheists being counted," Carlos A. Diaz, President of AAl, suggests on the organization's website. The AAI's census was still down at noontime Monday.
"We are working hard to get Atheist Census online again," Diaz added.
The global project, aimed at gathering information about the world's atheists, had already collected 8,880 confirmed entries and another 2,300 pending ones on Sunday before the website was taken down by an unknown threat.
"I was notified as soon as it happened by our technical team. It is a deliberate attack, although no one has claimed responsibility," AAI General Manager Tanya Smith told The Huffington Post UK after the DDOS attack. "I'm obviously speculating, but there's people out there who do not want atheists being counted."
Smith added that the initial results from the global survey showed that many atheists are young people and well educated, which she called a "powerful demographic." The survey asks people to identify where they are form and to provide a working email address as proof of their identity.
"We're working to get back online as soon as possible, and people who have heard about the attack have got in touch with us, and asked to add their names by email, they are so keen to sign up," the AAI general manager noted.
Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author of the The God Delusion, has backed the census initiative on his website, and posted a link to the update about the DoS attack on Sunday.
AAI says its mission is to "challenge and confront religious faith, to strengthen global atheism by promoting the growth and interaction of atheist/freethought organizations around the world and to undertake international educational and advocacy projects."