For Immediate Release: August 7, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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Secular Humanist Group Says Terror Campaign is “Out of Control,” Calls Upon World Community to Defend Free Expression
After the fourth assassination this year of a secularist blogger in Bangladesh by Islamic militants, the Center for Inquiry demanded that the Bangladeshi government — and the wider international community — overcome its ambivalence toward these acts of terror, and act decisively to protect the lives of its nonreligious citizens and their right to free expression.
Secularist blogger Niloy Neel, who discussed atheism and religion on Facebook and helped found the Bangladesh Rationalist Society, was beheaded in his Dhaka apartment last night by Islamists posing as prospective tenants. His is the fourth such assassination in 2015 alone, beginning with the hacking to death of renowned writer and activist Avijit Roy in February. These Al Qaeda-linked militants are openly waging a terror campaign of assassinations of targeted secularist bloggers. News reports indicate that Dhaka police ignored earlier complaints from Neel that he feared for his life.
“What was already a human rights crisis has now spun entirely out of control, and it is now long overdue for the government of Bangladesh to take seriously its moral responsibility to protect the lives of its people,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry (CFI). “But this problem goes deeper than just Bangladesh. The world can no longer sit by and allow this global crackdown on free expression, by both terror groups and states alike, to continue. The rights to free expression and dissent must be protected and cherished, and these killings must be stopped now.”
CFI this week publicly backed a U.S. House resolution introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), which calls upon Bangladesh to curb violent extremism and protect religious minorities, including the nonreligious.
“These acts of terror, largely motivated by an absolute intolerance for any kind of religious dissent, should mobilize the world community to end what is an outright challenge to civilization,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s main representative to the United Nations. “The U.S. House should immediately and overwhelmingly pass Rep. Gabbard’s resolution, the U.S. State Department must leverage its considerable influence with the government of Bangladesh and its neighbors, the UN must assertively confront this campaign against basic human rights, and the people of the world must speak in unified defiance of these acts of barbarism.”
After the third murder of a Bangladeshi blogger and amid imminent threats against the life of human rights champion Taslima Nasrin, CFI established the Freethought Emergency Fund in order to assist in the protection and escape of secularist writers and activists in countries like Bangladesh who have been targeted for death by Islamists. Dr. Nasrin was brought to the United States by CFI, and is actively working to secure the safety of targeted bloggers in Bangladesh.
“Every week, we hear from secularists in Bangladesh who are genuinely terrified for their lives, asking for our help,” said Ron Lindsay. “We are going to continue to do all we can for them, but we cannot be the prime solution to this unacceptable state of affairs. It is the people of countries like Bangladesh that must demand change, and it is governments, the representatives of the people, that have the obligation to bring about that change. It is the very least they can do.”
Additional background information:
Before the murder of Niloy Neel, CFI posted a timeline of attacks on Bangladeshi secularist bloggers: http://bit.ly/CFIBangladeshTimeline
CFI’s magazine Free Inquiry recently published an article by Ryan Shaffer which provides deeper context to the current situation: http://bit.ly/BangladeshBackground
More information on CFI’s Freethought Emergency Fund: http://bit.ly/FreethoughtFund
CFI’s podcast Point of Inquiry recently featured interviews with Taslima Nasrin and Bangladeshi blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who survived assassination attempts and endured imprisonment for blasphemy at the hands of his own country. See www.pointofinquiry.org.