Three atheist bloggers have been arrested in Bangladesh because they “hurt the religious feelings of the people by writing against different religions and their prophets and founders including the Prophet Muhammad.”
The arrest of the three, who were paraded in handcuffs at a news conference, followed pressure from Islamists who have organised a march from all over the country to the capital to demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers.
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 arrests were made on primary information” and further investigation is underway, Khan said, adding the government would act toughly to prevent any attempt to upset “communal harmony” via the Internet.
There has been vociferous debate between staunch atheists and fundamentalists in Bangladesh’s blogosphere and on social media for years, but it took a deadly turn in February when an atheist blogger was murdered.
Can we please stop pretending that Islam is a peaceful religion? I know – there are plenty of Muslims who aren’t calling for the death of these bloggers. But there are also tons of “moderate” Muslims who aren’t speaking out against those who wish to execute humans for speech; and it’s not as though this is a new phenomenon among Muslims.
Also, shame on the Bangladesh government for succumbing to the bullying of these extremists. Article 39 of the Constitution of Bangladesh states:
Freedom of thought and conscience, and of speech, is guaranteed.
Though, perhaps the following caveat negates that right:
Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence-
1. the right of every citizen of freedom of speech and expression; and
2. freedom of the press, are guaranteed.
Freedom of speech and expression (real freedom – not the type that can be revoked under the absurd banner of avoiding offense) is essential to a prosperous society. That’s why I’m glad I live in the United States, where I can say that I think Muhammad was a clown and a wretched human being, and that Islam is a pathetic and destructive philosophy.
Stop taking offense to blasphemy and start objecting to calls for violence against people who have done nothing wrong.