It is rather simple for me to sit in the comfort of my middle-class home in a secular country, and feel I can express myself on my personal blog, about whatever issue is on my mind on that day, without fear of violent reprisal. Open to the possibility that I might be proven wrong. Learning as I go. However, for people to do the same, in a country consumed by extremists who will not think twice about taking your life for writing something they don’t like; it takes an extraordinary amount of courage to stand up and speak out against religious extremism and injustices.
Today, hundreds of thousands are marching in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to demand blasphemy laws, and the execution of secular and Atheist bloggers for even daring to criticise Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Hundreds of thousands, claiming to be “saving Islam” by calling for the violent deaths of anyone who says anything they do not like. Hundreds of thousands demanding death sentences for speaking out against their faith. The secular and liberal World should stand in unity with those condemned simply for speaking their minds, on a website. The blogging community especially.
There is currently a plan, hopefully underway, with British Humanists, to stage a demonstration outside of the Bangladesh High Commission in London.
The action follows the horrendous murder of Ahmed Rajib, an Atheist blogger and organiser, hacked to death, and his throat slit by Islamists, simply for promoting secularism. The same movement, rooted in 7th Century barbarism, that slits the throats of innocent people simply for writing something they don’t like, now demand to have a say in crafting ‘Blasphemy laws’.
One of the arrested bloggers is Asif Mohiuddin. Asif was stabbed in January by Islamic extremists. He is now waiting to see if the government succumbs to the demands of the thugs who stabbed in, and have the State finish the job for them. In the World of Islamic extremism, saying words they do not like is evil. Stabbing someone for it, is perfectly acceptable. Subrata Adhikary Shuvo, and Russell Parvez are also currently awaiting their fate. Shuvo is younger than me. This makes me rather unnerved and sickened. The distress these men must currently be feeling is horrendous.
In a previous article, I said this:
“It is my belief, that the freedom to satirise, mock, laugh at, criticise, as well as question all authoritative ideas, including all religions that themselves are openly critical of how those outside the faith live their lives, is the cornerstone of a progressive, and reasonable society. These ideas include the freedom to satirise and criticise and question deeply held political ideals, including my own. We must not allow religions to be free from satire, nor criticism, simply because it is cloaked in ‘faith’. To close them to criticism/satirism by using State controls and violence, means that the protected ‘idea’ becomes an ‘idea’ we are forced to respect; not an ‘idea’ that earns our respect, we are forced to bow to its apparent wonder, not of our own volition, and so humanity cannot progress the idea, dismantle the idea, or strengthen the idea, and move forward. It thus gives the ‘idea’ an authority above what it is reasonably justified in having, over the lives of not just its followers, but those who don’t wish to adhere to its principles. This is dangerous.”
– This seems more apt today than ever. I am an Atheist blogger. It sickens me to think that because of words, that I type on a screen, that no one is forced to read…. a group of fanatical Fascists thinks it has justification for killing me.
I wonder if these ‘blasphemy laws’ also cover not using the word ‘kuffar’ to describe non-believers? Or not saying anything negative about Judaism? Or demand punishment for homosexuality? Or not saying anything abusive about America, Britain and “The West”? I wonder if they’ll allow me to have a say over banning Holy Books for condemning me to hell, for insulting me on practically every page, for not believing. Or, as I suspect, is it simply a way to stop any sort of questioning, criticism, or mocking of one particular religion.
Do you see the pictures of the march? Of this “Save Islam” march? What seems to be missing?
– Where are the women? At home waiting for permission to leave? In another march, banned from the all men march? And these people have the nerve to claim to be fighting for “freedom”. It isn’t surprising that there are no women with the men, given what Hefazat-e-Islami is calling for.. It includes this:
4. End to all alien cultural practices like immodesty, lewdness, misconduct, culture of free mixing of the sexes.
– Freedom? Really? Freedom to do as they say, live your life as they tell you to, only say what they have allowed you to say, and be executed otherwise. Freedom.
The ‘long march to Dhaka’ protesters have shown the World what they really are. Poison. Totalitarian. Fascist. They are not a fringe. They have power, they imprison people for words, they set fires, they torture, they beat people, they wish to execute people, they are not a little extreme group that we can ignore. The decent and civilised World cannot afford to ignore such horrific people. They are not peaceful people. They never will be. Please let’s stop pretending that Islam is inherently peaceful.
Be suspicious also of those claiming to be moderate, or appearing to promote secular ideals to add credibility to their regressive cause. Their nastiness lurks just below the surface:
– “Freedom of speech for all! DISCLAIMER: As long as you say something nice about our religion. Otherwise, we hang you. You better say that our Prophet is great. Otherwise we hang you.”
Freedom of Expression rightfully dictates, that you have the right to express yourself. You have the responsibility to decide whether what you say might offend, or might offend. Others have the right to respond to you, they have the right to tell you you’re offensive, wrong, idiotic, lying, misrepresenting, or just being a bit of a prick. They do not have the right to forcibly silence you, threaten you, or attack you if they do not like what you have to say. That is not free expression.
Manipulations and redefinitions of what the term “free expression” means, should not be used by the religious to silence dissent, whilst they themselves continue to be free to use their Holy Book to insult homosexuality, feminism, the West, non-believers, and anyone else who doesn’t fit into their narrow band of what is considered “decent and correct”. Free expression is so violently opposed by the religious, because it is dangerous to dogma. No other reason.
‘Blasphemy laws’ should not exist. No religion has any right to demand others speak, or act as they demand. They are not superior to anyone else. The bloggers in Bangladesh, currently suffering the crushing chains of Islamic extremism and oppression, are the victims of religious fascism. I keep hearing “Freedom of speech does not mean you can insult religion“. Since when? Who invented that little restriction? I am certain; if a religion wishes political power, wishes to tell others that they are destined for eternal torture, wishes to teach this to children, and to dictate how other people live, then it is right that its authority is questioned, mocked, and criticised at every possible opportunity.
When it comes to religion, and when it comes to the concept of Islam; You are entitled to offend, you are entitled to disagree, you are entitled to argue, you are entitled to debate, you are entitled to satirise, you are entitled to criticise, you are entitled to question, you are entitled to write a blog stating what you dislike about the religion. None of this should in any way be punishable, by law, or by a group of thugs attempting to impose their faith upon others. The very act of punishing ‘blasphemy’ (essentially, outlawing Atheism) makes it even more essential to criticise and satirise and mock that particular idea.
Show your support for Asif Mohiuddin, Subrata Adhikary Shuvo, and Russell Parvez. The Bangladesh Bloggers.