Last week, the government arrested several prominent atheist bloggers for “hurting religious sentiments,” under Section 295A of the Bangladesh Penal Code. Home Minister M.K. Alamgir recently warned that the government has a list of seven more “atheist bloggers” who will also soon be targeted. Just today, a newspaper editor was arrested for printing quotations from the targeted bloggers. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of protesters belonging to the radical group Islami Andolan Bangladesh have rallied in the country’s capital, Dhaka, for even tougher blasphemy laws and more arrests. They have threatened violence if their demands are not met by April 25.
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) believes that no person should face social or legal punishment simply for holding or expressing their views, and we believe that no topic should be off-limits — especially religion, which has such an enormous impact on the lives of billions. That’s why we direct so much of our effort toward work at the United Nations and, more recently, organizing the Campaign for Free Expression.
CFI has written a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook. We urged them to raise public awareness of the situation in Bangladesh and to pressure the Bangladeshi government to honor its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right, which guarantees every individual the rights to freedom of belief, religion, and expression.
But we need your help. Join the Center for Inquiry in pushing Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Cook to press the government of Bangladesh to repeal its current blasphemy law, reject any new blasphemy laws, and end proceedings against bloggers for exercising their right to criticize religion.