Bangladeshi Government: Prosecute Islamists who Killed Avijit Roy and Protect Freethinkers

3328ab6be8fd2ba088ec601bfdecca44We are outraged by the senseless and brutal hacking to death of well known scientist, atheist and writer Avijit Roy and the serious attack on his wife and blogger, Rafida Ahmed Banna, by Islamists.
 
Avijit had received numerous threats over the years for publishing articles critical of Islam, and promoting secular views, science and social issues on the Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona (Free Mind), which he founded. He had travelled to Bangladesh from the US to attend a book fair where his book “The Virus of Faith” was being launched. It was whilst he was returning from the fair, that he was brutally killed.
 
This is not the first time atheists and secularists have been attacked in Bangladesh. In addition to the well known threats received by writer Taslima Nasrin, 29 year old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed and Ahmed Rajib killed in 2013. In 2004, Humayun Azad, a secular writer and professor at Dhaka University, was also attacked and later died.
 
Whilst Islamists have continued to threaten prominent bloggers and called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion”, the Bangladeshi government has done little to defend the lives and security of freethinkers. In 2013, the government even arrested bloggers and shut websites down instead of arresting the Islamists involved.
 
We stand united in our grief for Avijit Roy with Mukto-muna but remain undefeated. We unequivocally condemn the attack on Avijit and his wife and also the many threats against atheist, secularist and freethinking bloggers and call on the Bangladeshi government to prosecute the Islamists involved, guarantee the safety of dissenters and respect free expression. Freedom of expression, including to criticise Islam and Islamism as well as to blaspheme, is a basic right.
 
We are all Avijit.
 
 
 

Brazil leads the world in religious freedom

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Among the 26 most populous countries, Brazil has the highest levels of religious freedom, higher, in fact, than the United States, where government restrictions on religious freedom have been rising.

According to The Weekly Number, Brazil - the world's fifth most populous nation - not only out performs other countries of is size, the Brazilian government has the best record on religious freedom worldwide, placing virtually no measurable restrictions on religious freedom, scoring 0.2 out of a maximum of 10.0 on the Government Restrictions on Religion index, recently published by the Pew Research Center. 

Among the 26 most populous nations, seven have governments that are very highly restrictive of religious freedom (see chart): China (scoring 9.1 out of 10.0), Indonesia (8.5), Iran (8.3), Egypt (8.2), Burma/Myanmar (7.7), Russia (7.4), Turkey (7.4), according to the Pew index. Six arehighly restrictive: Pakistan (6.4), Vietnam (6.1), Bangladesh (5.2), India (5.0), Ethiopia (4.6), and Germany (4.5). Five are moderately restrictive: Thailand (4.4), France (4.2), Nigeria (4.1), Mexico (3.4), and the United States (3.0). And eight have low government restrictions on religious freedom: South Korea (2.0), Italy (2.0), United Kingdom (1.7), D.R. Congo (1.1), Japan (1.1), Philippines (1.0), South Africa (0.7), Brazil (0.2). 

 For more details please check The Weekly Numbers

Where Sharia Law Reigns In Europe, And The Muslim Woman Fighting It

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According to Le Monde, by a twist of history and weight of geopolitics, Greek law recognizes the authority of Sharia in settling civil matters for the country's Muslim minority. One widow is fighting to end this European anomaly.

In the privacy of a cosy flat in this city in northeastern Greece, Shatitzeh Molla Sali speaks to us softly, so softly that she is sometimes barely audible. Hers is the voice of a weary 65-year-old who says she always "lowered her head and accepted everything."

But her gaze now shows the steely resolve of a changed woman. Molla Sali has just become the first member of Greece's Muslim minority to lodge an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights against a court ruling based on Islamic Sharia law, in her case on charges that she was deprived part of her inheritance.

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Slaying Of Bangladeshi Bloggers Highlights Dangers For Atheists Around The World

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Atheists, humanists and other nonbelievers are speaking out against the brutal slaying of an atheist blogger in Bangladesh, the second such killing in a month.

According to Huffington Post, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was attacked and killed Monday morning (March 30) in the capital city of Dhaka by three men wielding knives or other sharp weapons. Police say they have two suspects in custody, both students at religious schools.

The attack comes a month after the machete slaying of Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger, in the same city. Roy, who was 42, was the founder of the Mukto-Mona, or “Free-Mind,” blog that promoted secularism in the Muslim-majority country.

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Vatican Stalls On Accepting An Openly Gay Ambassador

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According to Huffington Post, the Vatican has for weeks failed to accept the appointment of an openly gay diplomat as France's new ambassador, leading to speculation that the Holy See is effectively rejecting him because of his sexual orientation.

The French Council of Ministers nominated Laurent Stéfanini for the position in early January. All the Vatican needs to do is officially confirm the appointment. European media note this would not be the first time the Vatican has refused an openly gay ambassador.

The Huffington Post reached out to the Vatican for comment but did not receive a response.

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Kuwait moves to ban those convicted of blasphemy

39a9ec3076cc7a7522288d021d39909f Proposal aims to prevent entry of persons found to be in contempt of religions or penalised for derision of Islam

According to Gulf News, a Kuwaiti parliamentary committee has endorsed a proposal to ban persons found guilty of blasphemy from entering the country.

Under the proposal presented by lawmaker Abdul Rahman Al Jiran and discussed by the legal and legislative committee on Sunday, any person convicted of contempt of religions or penalised for derision of Islam, Islamic beliefs or the Prophet’s (PBUH) companions or family members will be banned from entering Kuwait.

Not to forget, in last days of 2012, Kuwait authority arrested and jailed Abdel Aziz Mohamed Albaz, the most famous Kuwaiti atheist blogger.

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Bangladesh files cases against four over blogger's murder

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According to The Economic Times, Bangladesh police Tuesday filed criminal cases against two Islamic students and two others for the machete murder of a blogger accused of mocking Islam, the second such attack in recent weeks. 

Washiqur Rahman was hacked to death near his home on Monday morning in Dhaka, less than two months after the murder of an American atheist blogger triggered international outrage. 

Police Inspector Mohammad Salahuddin said three knife-wielding attackers killed the 27-year-old because they believed he had "defamed Islam" in the mainly Muslim country through writings on social media. 

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Bangladesh blogger becomes second to be murdered in a month

 

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According to The Guardian, Washiqur Rahman’s murder is latest attack on progressive activists following similar killing of American atheist blogger in February.

A blogger known for his atheist views has been stabbed to death in Bangladesh, in the latest of a series of attacks on independent writers in the developing south Asian nation.

Washiqur Rahman, 27, died of serious injuries inflicted in the assault on Monday morning in Dhaka, the capital.

Police have arrested two men for the murder, which comes just weeks after an American atheist blogger was killed in Dhaka, in a crime that triggered international outrage.

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