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.
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.