Three Atheist Bloggers in Bangladesh Arrested on Blasphemy Charges

It’s been a rough few months for outspoken atheists in Bangladesh. Violence broke out after some bloggers were accused of criticizing Islam. They’ve been censored and threatened to no end. And one citizen has already been brutally attacked.

And now, earlier today, three atheist bloggers were arrested for the crime of saying things that hurt religious sensitivities:

“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.

Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan said the three arrested men were among 84 “atheist bloggers” named in a list handed over by an Islamist group to a government panel probing alleged blasphemy against Islam on the Internet.

The bloggers could face 10 years in prison or, if some extremists have their way, the death penalty.

All for what? For pointing out how reality works.

I don’t know who the bloggers are whose lives are at risk thanks to their spineless government, but they are faceless portraits of courage.

Many of their supporters formed a human chain in protest of the arrests, but they didn’t seem to sway the intolerant officials in charge.

A human chain forms in support of the arrested bloggers (Munir Uz Zaman – AFP)

This weekend, Muslim extremists will hold a march in the city of Dhaka to “demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers.” Which is really the epitome of cowardice. You can’t really stage a rally when your opponents have to fear for their lives if they speak out against you.

Let’s hope these bloggers find a way to keep speaking out without getting caught.



About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • corps_suk

    F uck Islam too

  • John Sargeant

    Picked up your earlier blog regarding using the Scarlet B. Have called on other bloggers to do so and o. Twitter. Hope you will join us on there as well showing solidarity in cyberspace :) https://homoeconomicusnet.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/bangladesh-atheist-bloggers-targetted/

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I’m sure Rush and Beck will report on this tomorrow and state how atheism is under attack and we must rise up and demand for their release.

  • Randy Robbins

    I’m sure an alarming number of U.S. christians would be unable to disagree with this. More like: “they brought it on themselves.”

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      surely you read the thread down a ways, about the FL communications prof who asked students to participate in a harmless exercise of putting the word “jesus” on paper and setting it on the floor, and then gauging their comfort level when asked to put a foot on it? he’s not even an atheist; he teaches sunday school at his church.

      he’s now under virtual house arrest, suspended from his job, and receiving death threats… from God’s most Gentle people: American xtians.

      yes it can and does happen here. he’s not fortunate to get a human chain outside the university admin building in support, however.

      • DavidMHart

        Though in fairness, the chances of the people demanding the death penalty actually getting their wish, whether through legal means or vigilante action, are higher in Bangladesh. Sure, there are American Christians who are as vengeful and insecure-in-their-beliefs as Bangladesh’s Islamist horde, but they don’t have quite such an unopposed stranglehold over society.

  • Val

    Is there anything we can do? Would writing to the Bangladeshi embassy help? Does Amnesty International know about this?

    No-one should be going to jail fort his.

  • Miss_Beara

    This is so depressing. I wish there was something we can do. Hurting the religious feelings of people does not warrant execution, jail time or threats against their lives.

  • John Small Berries

    This weekend, Muslim extremists will hold a march in the city of Dhaka to “demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers.” Which is really the
    epitome of cowardice. You can’t really stage a rally when your opponents have to fear for their lives if they speak out against you.

    Say what, now? I can understand not staging a rally when you have to fear for your own lives, but this doesn’t make any sense to me. I would think the low probability of opposition would make cowards more likely to stage a rally, not less.

    • TheBlackCat13

      I think the idea is that it doesn’t really count as a “rally” anymore. I don’t agree with that sentiment, but that is the only way I can think of where it makes sense as written.

  • Johnny Nucleo

    Ah, the dark side of religion rears is ugly head yet again. All freedoms have a limit and countless imams, priests, non-religious people, etc. need to be made very aware of this or oppression by the majority will always rule. Freedom doesn’t mean you are free to take away the freedoms of others but many unfailingly seem to interpret it this way. Is it really that hard to leave people alone to their own opinions and life? Apparently, yes.

  • Sabelotodo

    I would rather prefer that atheists and theists sign a peace treaty with each other, and vow to not break that peace treaty. The purpose is to make peace, not war. If the atheists are really making anti-theistic claims or viewing religion as harmful/dangerous, then I think that should be censored. But if atheists are just saying, “I disbelieve in deities”, then they have the right to say it. Problem is, atheists, more often than not, are very anti-theistic, approaching the “Christopher Hitchens” type or “Richard Dawkins” type or “Sam Harris” type of vehement atheism.


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