Followup on the Atheists of Bangladesh

Followup on the Atheists of Bangladesh April 11, 2013

In my post on Monday, I said I’d write an update if I found out about anything else that could be done to help the Bangladeshi bloggers imprisoned for their atheism. I have a few more suggestions for how to do that.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union is promoting the #HumanistSolidarity hashtag on Twitter for people to show their support, and has a list of ideas for what to say if you contact Bangladesh’s embassy in your country. The American Humanist Association is also suggesting that people contact the the American ambassador to Bangladesh to urge him to lodge a formal protest with the government. I’ve done both of these things, and I strongly encourage you to do likewise. Here’s my letter to the ambassador:

Your Excellency,

I’m writing to express my grave concern over the arrest of several Bangladeshi bloggers in recent days, apparently for no crime other than peacefully expressing their atheist ideas. These arrests were carried out at the instigation of a faction of dangerous and violent radicals, who want the law to be written to give their interpretation of Islam special protections and privileges, and to silence all those who hold different beliefs.

Human rights are the concern of all people everywhere in the world, and freedom of speech is foremost among these rights. For society to progress, people must be able to speak their minds, debate, and persuade each other without fear that they’ll be harmed or imprisoned for expressing unpopular or minority opinions. I’m calling on you, and on the government of Bangladesh, to set the imprisoned bloggers free, to stand strongly against the lynch-mob mentality, and to oppose any misguided attempt to prosecute people merely for their thoughts.

The eyes of the world are watching. Please do the right thing and prove that Bangladesh is truly a modern and democratic state!

Taslima Nasrin has been writing extensively about Bangladesh and the Islamist protests, including some photos which are, frankly, terrifying. If we’re going to have any hope whatsoever of stopping this lynch mob, we need the atheist community to respond in strength and protect our own. Your voice may not seem like much, but it’s the best weapon you have. Use it!

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