Commemorating Avijit Roy on his 44th birthday

AvijitRoy

Today is the first birthday of Avijit Roy that we commemorate without him. His life was taken by Islamic terrorists earlier this year, when he was in Bangladesh to attend the Ekushey Book Fair. Avijit was a prolific and accomplished author, a fierce defender of human rights, and dedicated much of his life to the promotion of freethinking, humanism, and rationalism. Continue reading →

Atheists ain’t bad people; neither are theists

atheism

Last year, a Pew Research Center survey found that Americans have a significantly less favorable view of atheists than of Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus. Only Muslims were rated more negatively than atheists. That is consistent with another survey conducted by the same institute in the same year, which found that about every second American would not be happy with a family member marrying an atheist. In a 2012 Gallup poll among Americans, 43 percent of respondents said that they would not vote for a presidential candidate who is an atheist. Simply put, Americans do not like atheists. As everybody knows who knows anything about Bangladesh, neither do Bangladeshis. Continue reading →

Blasphemy and the right to offend

Background: The Daily Star

The right to express one’s opinion freely is maybe the most important democratic right, and it is currently under assault in Bangladesh. Hifazat-e-Islam demands the introduction of strict blasphemy laws, and the government, instead of defending freedom, resorts to an ill-advised and imprudent appeasement strategy that hinders the press in its duty to inform the public, threatens the futures of young bloggers who were, and continue to be, arrested, and puts in peril the future of the democracy of the country. Continue reading →

Government of Bangladesh: Stop censoring the Internet

Dear Prime Minister Hasina, dear Ministers Ahmed, Inu and Khatun, dear Mr. Bose:

I and the other signatories of this petition letter are deeply dismayed at your plan to set up a localized version of YouTube in Bangladesh, thereby giving yourself the power to block inconvenient content, and we call on the Government of Bangladesh to stop censoring the Internet. Continue reading →

The YouTube ban and the right road to development

The 14-minute trailer of the movie titled “Innocence of Muslims,” a movie that may or may not exist, is poorly made and outright stupid. Anyone of even modest intelligence, Muslim or not, will find it painful to watch. The trailer, produced by Egyptian-born U.S. resident Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was initially uploaded to YouTube in July 2012. From that time until September it got the attention it deserves: none. Then, on September 8, Egyptian television host Khaled Abdallah reported on the film and showed excerpts of an Arabic version of the trailer. We all know what happened next. Continue reading →

King Abdullah: Immediately release journalist Hamza Kashgari

إلى صاحب السمو الملكي خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز حفظه الله و رعاه،

After receiving numerous death threats following statements about the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) he had posted on Twitter, 23-year old journalist Hamza Kashgari left Saudi Arabia for Malaysia on February 6, 2012. Prominent clerics deemed Mr. Kashgari’s statements to be insulting towards the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and called for him to be tried for apostasy, which is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. Malaysia denied Mr. Kashgari’s request for political asylum and deported him back to Saudi Arabia on February 12. Mr. Kashgari is in custody in Saudi Arabia right now and could face the death penalty if he is charged with apostasy. Continue reading →