The freedom to write about atheism and to be critical about religion is one I try not to take for granted. News from Bangladesh is a wake up call not just to the privileges I have but the universal rights all should enjoy:
DHAKA — Bangladesh police have arrested three atheist bloggers for allegedly defaming Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, police said Tuesday, amid calls from religious fundamentalists for an Internet crackdown.
The arrest of the three, who were paraded in handcuffs at a news conference, followed pressure from Islamists who have organised a march from all over the country to the capital to demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers.
“They have hurt the religious feelings of the people by writing against different religions and their prophets and founders including the Prophet Mohammed,” said deputy commissioner of Dhaka police, Molla Nazrul Islam.
The three could face 10 years in jail if convicted under the country’s cyber laws which outlaw “defaming” a religion, Islam said. Source
Bloggers have been demonstrating and showing solidarity with those targeted in what is a running tit for tat regarding war crimes committed during independence. A result has been Islamists targeting atheists and secularists for blasphemy. The authorities are claiming that blogging about atheism is propaganda that requires repentance while violence has flared by those wanting the death penalty imposed.
The death penalty for printing words about atheism, paragraphs in cyberspace rejecting religion as knowing who God is let alone anyone knowing what this being wants from us? We cannot allow these bloggers to be victimised to reduce the anger Islamists feel about the trial of their leaders, that has by accounts fallen short of international standards. (The Economist)
If ever there was a reason for the OUT Campaign to encourage atheists to stand up and show solidarity now is the time. To that end I encourage fellow bloggers to share this story and fly the updated Scarlet A below in support of the bloggers and secularism is Bangladesh (as recommended here).
Follow Up Blog: solidarity protest
Latest Blog: Time to stand together
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog