We know fundamentalist religion is a particularly potent institution; it’s a subset of organized religion characterized by dogma, literal adherence to scripture, hostility to critical thinking, intolerance, indoctrination, and absolute faith.
Atheists (and even moderate theists) play a critical role in countering that type of thinking. Unchecked, not only can the power of fundamentalists grow excessive, but a lack of heterodoxy, generally, also stifles overall human progress.
South Asia is a particularly religious part of the world. Religious fundamentalists – chiefly Hindu and Muslim, but also others – wield significant power, as do allied charlatans of all sorts, from “godmen” to tantriks to peddlers in black magic.
For a heretic in the region, life has always been dangerous.
In recent years, however, promoting critical thinking has become a “crime” punishable by death. No fewer than 12 freethinkers have been murdered in South Asia by religious fundamentalists in this decade.