Stand up against the persecution of Atheists around the world

Mar 29, 2016

Photo credit: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk

By Bishop Declan Lang

Two years ago Ahmed Rajib Haider, a prominent atheist blogger was ambushed as he left his home in Dhaka and brutally murdered by a gang wielding machetes. The killing came against a backdrop of intimidation and attacks on people who had publicly repudiated or challenged religious belief.

Since then Bangladesh’s atheists have lived and died in fear. During 2015 at least five more were murdered. Avijit Roy, an author who wrote extensively on atheism and science, was hacked to death as he left a book fair with his wife. Weeks later Washiqur Rahman, an IT manager who blogged in his spare time, was stabbed in broad daylight. In the Northern city of Sylhet Ananta Bijoy Das was killed on his way to work, shortly after being invited to address a high profile press freedom event in Europe.

As demands grew for the Bangladeshi government to act, gangs burst into the home of blogger Niloy Chakrabarti and the office of publisher Faisal Abedin Deepan, killing them both in the same horrific manner. All of the men had been named on lists of prominent atheists circulated by extremist groups and most had already received death threats. Several other high profile atheists narrowly escaped attacks and dozens fled the country.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh publicly denounced the murders as attacks on religious tolerance and freedom of expression, strongly criticising the government’s failure to offer protection for those whose lives were at risk. Their intervention took some by surprise, but it is in fact a powerful demonstration of the stand that we are called to take whenever people are persecuted for their beliefs.

Across the world Christians can be found playing a central role in defence of other faith communities, from the Yazidis in Northern Iraq who face unspeakable atrocities at the hands of Daesh, to Muslim minorities in parts of South East Asia who suffer discrimination and hostility from Buddhist fundamentalists. However our compassion must never be limited only to people of faith.

The persecution of atheists is a grave violation of human dignity throughout the world. In Saudi Arabia, where “calling for atheist thought in any form” is defined as an act of terrorism, writers have been flogged after publicly promoting humanist or secularist ideas. Most recently the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to eight years in prison and eight hundred lashes, for publishing work considered to be atheistic.


Source: The Catholic Church for England and Wales

6 comments on “Stand up against the persecution of Atheists around the world

  • A sober reminder of what the religious do when they think they really are in charge.

    I wouldn’t normally support the Catholic Church, and there is a whiff of: If we don’t say something we’re next, about their role in Bangladesh.

    Even so, credit where credit is due. Well done to the Catholics of Bangladesh, and thank you.

    Peace.
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  • The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh publicly denounced the
    murders as attacks on religious tolerance and freedom of expression,
    strongly criticising the government’s failure to offer protection for
    those whose lives were at risk.

    Just see what happens when Catholics are in the majority. A good example is Latin America.
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  • cbrown #2
    Mar 30, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh publicly denounced the murders as attacks on religious tolerance and freedom of expression,
    strongly criticising the government’s failure to offer protection for those whose lives were at risk.

    Just see what happens when Catholics are in the majority. A good example is Latin America. It’s probably a response to this sort of thing:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-35926675
    The demonstrators are angry at the recent execution of police guard Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated a politician for advocating blasphemy law reform.

    The protesters have also called for the immediate execution of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy.
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  • Yes, it is good that the RCC speaks out for persecuted atheists.

    But the RCC is blind to the fact that it, too, has blood on its hands. Its teaching on contraception is a cause of overpopulation. (I know that millions of Catholics ignore that teaching, but, then again, millions don’t.) Overpopulation is one cause of global warming. (Google: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/population-growth-climate-change/)

    Global warming kills through flash floods, cyclones & rising sea levels. The United Nations says it kills hundreds of thousands each year. (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/27/climate-change-kills-400-000-a-year-new-report-reveals.html) So, although the church is not the sole cause of overpopulation, the consequences of its teachings are deadly. If we don’t change it, it will continue this manslaughter.
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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #1
    Mar 29, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    A sober reminder of what the religious do when they think they really are in charge.

    I wouldn’t normally support the Catholic Church, and there is a whiff of: If we don’t say something we’re next, about their role in Bangladesh.

    Speaking of the Catholic church being in charge, – they don’t seem to have any problem with the persecution of women or doctors!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35996313

    Polish MPs have paved the way for a citizens’ bill that would ban abortion.

    The “Stop Abortion” campaign now has approval to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to submit a bill to MPs. It has three months to do so.

    The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has a parliamentary majority and promotes traditional Catholic values.

    Currently abortions are only allowed in Poland in cases of rape or incest, if the mother’s life is in danger, or if the foetus has medical problems.

    PiS enjoys the support of many Polish Catholic bishops, and its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, believes most of his party would vote for the bill.

    According to the Polish Health Ministry, there were 977 legal abortions in 2014. Before the fall of communism in 1989 abortion was legal.

    The citizens’ bill proposes up to five years in prison for anyone who knowingly causes the death of an unborn child.

    It stipulates that punishment for doctors and mothers can be waived in some cases, such as when the procedure was performed to save the mother’s life.

    Oooo! How generous and forgiving!!!!!! Perhaps they forgot to tell the doctors about citizen zygotes and the Catholic Church’s “superior” understanding of medical matters and decision making!

    The current law was adopted in 1993 after a very heated debate in parliament and the compromise has largely held since, with no governing party willing to tackle the issue.
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