Freethinking in Bangladesh

16


Discussion by: atheist.asif

Yesterday 3 bloggers of Bangla blog community have been arrested for not believing in any organized religion and for criticizing of the religious fundamentalism, religious institutions and religious Dogmas. Few days back, 84 freethinker bloggers were listed by some religious fundamentalist groups named 'Hefajat e Islam" and the list was submitted to the government to arrest them and to impose Blasphemy law on them. I'm one of the listed bloggers, and In January, I was stabbed brutally by some Al-Qaeda terrorist group in Dhaka. And after one month, Blogger Rajib Haidar was slaughtered by the same group. Now our so called secular government are doing the rest of the job. They have already banned my blog and will arrest me tonight or tomorrow also.

There was a time in the 17-18th century in Europe when women who excelled in knowledge, science and philosophy more than men were blamed for witchcraft and were burned alive by the churches and their theocratic government. Education and thus advancement for women has always been a threat for radicalism so this is why the church and the government indulged in burning the progressive women by branding them as witches.

The exact same situation is in Bangladesh right now. The whole new generation who brought in a revolution in Bangla blog community with their advancement in science, philosophy and critical mind, who wrote against the religious fundamentalism and in favor of our great liberation war, freedom of speech, secularism and democracy will be burned alive just like witch-hunt in the late middle ages.

Religious sentiments are so easy to be offended, that sentiment is always ready to be hurt. Religious fundamentalist always search google, facebook and youtube for the contents that hurts their sentiment and always cry to stop those Blasphemy! I don't know who told them to search those things and hurt themselves! This is so ridiculous and nonsense. 

Religious feelings can be hurt in a number of ways. The mass slaughter of cows at Muslim 'Qurbani' festivals may be offensive for the Hindus who worship the Cows as gods. Similarly, public worship of idols, celebrating the Bangla New Year and giving flowers at the Shahid Minar in a Muslim-dominated country can offend a true follower of Islam because all of the cultures are forbidden in Islam. Moreover, followers of other religion might not accept or feel insulted when someone says that 'Islam is the best religion in the world', or it might hurt Muslims when a Hindu person claims that all humans are born as Hindus. So as a matter of fact, if you want to prohibit the criticism on religion, you have to prohibit the statements that go in favor of the religion also. 

The general people who take religion as a part of humanism, aren’t really interested in such propaganda that relates to religious ignominy but when things like these are used in political deceptive maneuvers, they make people believe that their own religion is endangered and to protect it they have to take part in war, murder, rape and what not. This was exactly how the genocide of 1971 was planned in Bangladesh, in the name of Islam, Pakistan army killed 3000000 of our people and raped more than 200000 women. 

So Insulting religion is obviously a political issue, political leaders just want to use religions for their dirty politics and to save the religion, they want middle aged laws to be imposed and to promote religion based education system which is not compatible with modern age. The listed bloggers were solely doing the right job to separate religion from politics and the state. When religion remains out of the politics which gets dirty at times, it will remain sacred and then no one will ever want to disrespect it, or insult it.

To drag religion into politics and playing with it like a football is the real offense towards religion. So separating the religion from the state is the primary concern of the Blogger community in Bangladesh, also to save the religions from being insulted.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I have some hope that freethinker bloggers could be offered some help.

    Without the defense of a secular state it will be the real terror.
    I am really sorry fundamentalists brutally stabbed you, or that you will be arrested soon, it is unbelievable unfair, wish I could help somehow.
    Your words are indeed wise, but policy in your country doesn´t seem to be making justice to it´s milenar tradition of disbelief, more ancient than christianity itself and islam.

  2. Bangladesh government squishing freedom of speech by arresting and harassing young bloggers inside the country

    ** To whom it may concern**

    We are drawing your attention to an ominous development that is taking place right now in Bangladesh. To appease a handful of radical islamist preachers, the government has embarked on a campaign to curtail freedom of speech. To this effect, the police under government dictate have arrested three bloggers (Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, Mashiur Rahman Biplob and Rasel Parvez) in Dhaka, and then several others including [one popular atheist blogger, Asif Mohiuddin] (http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/blogger-asif-mohiuddin-held/) – the unfortunate author of this post – in the following day. They were interrogated by police and further remanded in custody for seven more days. Torture in police custody is commonplace in Bangladesh for the detainees, often to extract incriminating statements. This time, several hapless bloggers are at the receiving end of government’s wrath. The government claims that these young bloggers have offended Islam and Muhammad, Islam’s holy prophet. It is worth noting that Bangladesh has no blasphemy law and the nation’s constitution allows the “freedom of thought, conscience and expression” as a fundamental right. In the aftermath of a popular protest in February and March 2013 known as Shahbag Movement, which was organized by bloggers and cyber writers, a section of Islamists have waged a disinformation campaign to label the bloggers ‘atheists’. The government is now trying to appease these Islamists. The government has made a list of nearly 100 bloggers and cyber forum participants who they labeled atheists and defamers of Islam. Through interview given to popular press, a spokesperson for the government has announced that the government will arrest and prosecute these “errant” bloggers. Although there is no law against atheism in Bangladesh, the government is persecuting these bloggers on charges of offending Islam and its Prophet. The government has already blocked a few popular websites to curtail free flow of information and promises to do even more to appease the Islamists. Since the constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh ensures freedom of speech and expression [article 39 (1, 2) of chapter-3], we believe Bangladesh Government’s heinous action against the popular bloggers is unconstitutional and a gross violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, which clearly states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”).

    We urge you to look into this serious matter and join with us in expressing grave concern so that bloggers and writers are not harassed and persecuted by state machinery because of the views they hold on religion and other such matters. The government has taken this easy route to appease a handful of rouge Mullahs whose support they need to win the upcoming election. We hope you understand the gravity of the situation which is worsening by the day.

    Mukto-Mona ( A site for Bengali Freethinkers)

    http://www.mukto-mona.com

    Also Read:

    Muzzling the voice of freethinking bloggers: An alarming development in Bangladesh!

    Appeasing the Islamists – a Distressing Sign for Bangladesh

    • In reply to #7 by FThinkerBD:

      Thank you for the links. They’re very informative. It’s important that you tell the world about this. I hope everyone at rd.net reads them.

      I still wish I knew what we could do. Is there anything you’d recommend? I wrote to my member of Parliament and to my Prime Minister (in Canada) but I’m not sure how much that will help. Their human rights record is not exactly stellar.

      • In reply to #8 by susanlatimer:
        Thanks a lot for your modest proposal. Only thing you can do is to create international pressure. Freethinkers in Bangladesh are helpless, no one is on their side right now. The term ‘atheist’ is like a stigma. They are branded as ‘criminal’. Rationality is considered as ‘sin’. What would you do if the circumstances are as such?

        Two days ago, A major headline in a widely circulated Bangla daily newspaper reads: the punishment for hurting religious sentiments is sentencing to death (The Daily Ittefaq, April 3, 2013). According to this report, the State Minister for Law, Kamrul Islam, is considering the death sentence for people who hurt religious sentiments. Can you imagine what will happen two those unfortunate bloggers who got arrested fro their critical thinking?

        some bright side I found are – IHEU issued a strong statement today – Arrests of “atheist bloggers” shows Bangladesh authorities are “walking into a trap set by fundamentalists”.

        HuffingtonPost published an article – Bangladesh Arrests ‘Atheist Bloggers,’ Cracking Down On Critics

        BBC reported – Bloggers in Bangladesh protest over arrest of writers

        CNN iReport – Bloggers arrested unlawfully in Bangladesh

        It looks like the plea is reaching to international media, but we need to create more pressure. It would be helpful if you or anyone send letter to the Ambassador to Bangladesh in US or Canada and anywhere else. We need to put pressure. Also keep in mind the helpless writers may need legal support. Perhaps no lawyer would stand for the atheists in Bangladesh.

        • In reply to #11 by FThinkerBD:

          In reply to #8 by susanlatimer:
          Thanks a lot for your modest proposal. Only thing you can do is to create international pressure. Freethinkers in Bangladesh are helpless, no one is on their side right now. The term ‘atheist’ is like a stigma. They are branded as ‘criminal’. Rationality is considered as ‘sin’. What would you do if the circumstances are as such?

          Two days ago, A major headline in a widely circulated Bangla daily newspaper reads: the punishment for hurting religious sentiments is sentencing to death (The Daily Ittefaq, April 3, 2013). According to this report, the State Minister for Law, Kamrul Islam, is considering the death sentence for people who hurt religious sentiments. Can you imagine what will happen two those unfortunate bloggers who got arrested fro their critical thinking?

          some bright side I found are – IHEU issued a strong statement today – Arrests of “atheist bloggers” shows Bangladesh authorities are “walking into a trap set by fundamentalists”.

          HuffingtonPost published an article – Bangladesh Arrests ‘Atheist Bloggers,’ Cracking Down On Critics

          BBC reported – Bloggers in Bangladesh protest over arrest of writers

          CNN iReport – Bloggers arrested unlawfully in Bangladesh

          It looks like the plea is reaching to international media, but we need to create more pressure. It would be helpful if you or anyone send letter to the Ambassador to Bangladesh in US or Canada and anywhere else. We need to put pressure. Also keep in mind the helpless writers may need legal support. Perhaps no lawyer would stand for the atheists in Bangladesh.

          Thank you. I will follow up on your recommendations. I hope others do as well.

        • In reply to #11 by FThinkerBD:

          In reply to #8 by susanlatimer: Thanks a lot for your modest proposal. Only thing you can do is to create international pressure. Freethinkers in Bangladesh are helpless, no one is on their side right now. The term ‘atheist’ is like a stigma. They are branded as ‘criminal’. Rationality is considered as ‘sin’. What would you do if the circumstances are as such?Two days ago, A major headline in a widely circulated Bangla daily newspaper reads: the punishment for hurting religious sentiments is sentencing to death (The Daily Ittefaq, April 3, 2013). According to this report, the State Minister for Law, Kamrul Islam, is considering the death sentence for people who hurt religious sentiments. Can you imagine what will happen two those unfortunate bloggers who got arrested fro their critical thinking?some bright side I found are – IHEU issued a strong statement today – Arrests of “atheist bloggers” shows Bangladesh authorities are “walking into a trap set by fundamentalists”.HuffingtonPost published an article – Bangladesh Arrests ‘Atheist Bloggers,’ Cracking Down On CriticsBBC reported – Bloggers in Bangladesh protest over arrest of writersCNN iReport – Bloggers arrested unlawfully in BangladeshIt looks like the plea is reaching to international media, but we need to create more pressure. It would be helpful if you or anyone send letter to the Ambassador to Bangladesh in US or Canada and anywhere else. We need to put pressure. Also keep in mind the helpless writers may need legal support. Perhaps no lawyer would stand for the atheists in Bangladesh.

          Is there any sort of template letter or e mail to send to the British Ambassador for Bangladesh? Will send one anyway. And has any sort of petition been set up by something like avaaz?

          I know they don’t feel very adequate under the circumstances.

  3. Atheist-asif, I deeply saddened about the situation you and your friends find themselves in. I wish there was something we could do to help but I fear there would be verry little. I have some connections with a similar Indian culture and would like to offer the following advice/observations, it may help.

    Observe and learn as much as you can about your enemies, see how they exorcise their power. Like how do they manage to stir up a mob, or (better still) how they sometimes fail to stir up a mob.

    Remember that atheist and rational people ar just a little bit smarter than the religious and the irrational. That is possibly the only real advantage you have, Make use of it. Manoeuvre them to fight each other.

    For all practical purposes both religion and government are corrupt, both will use each other when it suits their needs. BUT that means that they are corruptible. Manoeuvre yourself in to the position where you are doing the corrupting.

    Be polite, but be firm, (it is always harder to hit a confident smiling person)

    And finally, don’t be afraid to lie to save yourself and others, Do be afraid to get conferable with lying.

    If this lot come across as patronising crap, I am sorry and I apologise, I do want to help, I am willing to take the risk of looking like an idiot, but compared to you that is a small price to pay.

  4. Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
    Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    “also to save the religions from being insulted” No, No! Religion MUST be insulted wherever possible or practical. Respecting belief in absurdity deserves nothing less.

  5. According to several more extended posts dated 4/3 on Taslima Nasrin’s blog http://freethoughtblogs.com/taslima/ comrade Asif has been arrested as he feared …. (some excerpts ->)

    “Mukto Mona freethinkers, a group of Bengali atheists, issued a statement: Bangladesh government squishing freedom of speech by arresting and harassing young bloggers inside the country

    “We are drawing your attention to an ominous development that is taking place right now in Bangladesh. To appease a handful of radical islamist preachers, the government has embarked on a campaign to curtail freedom of speech. To this effect, the police under government dictate have arrested three bloggers (Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, Mashiur Rahman Biplob and Rasel Parvez) in Dhaka, and then several others including one popular atheist blogger, Asif Mohiuddin in the following day. They were interrogated by police and further remanded in custody for seven more days. Torture in police custody is commonplace in Bangladesh for the detainees, often to extract incriminating statements.

    “The present government of Bangladesh is called ‘secular’.
    People who do not know the meaning of secular call this government ‘secular’.
    Asif Mohiuddin was brutally stabbed by the Islamists. Now the government arrested him for the crime of being an atheist.
    His blog was banned by the government a few days ago.

    • A google search provides contact information for any members’ embassy to Bangladesh.

      I wish I could help with legal support. Is there anyone with legal expertise on this site who could get something started? I don’t have much but would be happy to make a donation.

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