Note: this is the fifth in a series of five posts leading up to, and marking, International Blasphemy Rights Day on September 30.
Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day, when we show our solidarity with those who face persecution and violence for daring to criticize or question religion. But today we also mark another dark day in order to make a powerful difference.
On February 26, 2015, machete-wielding militants attacked humanist writers and activists Avijit Roy and Bonya Ahmed as they left a book fair in Dhaka, Bangladesh, leaving Roy dead and Ahmed seriously injured. It was not the first attack on a secularist in Bangladesh — in 2013 Ahmed Rajib Haider was killed, and Asif Mohiuddin seriously injured — but it was perhaps the highest-profile attack in recent years.
Little did we know that it was the first of many more to come. Individuals connected to militant Islamist groups have claimed responsibility for the murders of several secularists and progressive activists in Bangladesh since 2015.
In order to help the countless others who remained at grave risk, the Center for Inquiry launched the Freethought Emergency Fund, a program aimed at relocating threatened secularists and activists to safety. In the past 15 months, we have helped more than a dozen people, including entire families (you can read more about this work here).
Sadly, in 2016 attacks have continued and widened in scope. Recent attacks have claimed religious minorities — including Christians, Hindus, Sufis, and Shias — professors, students, LGBT activists, and even the wife of a police investigator. And terrorists continue to threaten the lives of a number of writers, bloggers, publishers, and activists in the country.
Given the tremendous amount of work it has accomplished, the Freethought Emergency Fund’s balance has dwindled, and so we need more money to help people who remain at risk.
That is why today, on International Blasphemy Rights Day, CFI is relaunching the this important program as Secular Rescue, with a special matching donation offer.
Today only — make your dollar go three times as far!
Yes, you read that correctly: through the generosity of two CFI supporters, Douglas Kinney and another donor who wants to remain anonymous, if you give to Secular Rescue today your donation will be matched two-to-one, up to $15,000!
So your $20 donation will be worth $60 to threatened secularists in the world.
Your $100 donation will be worth $300 to writers in exile.
And a $1,000 donation will be worth a remarkable $3,000 to a family in fear of violence and death from extremist forces.
We have never had such a remarkable challenge gift for this program.
But there’s a catch.
We only receive the match if we receive your donation. So if our friends (yes, that means you!) don’t step up to the plate, the $10,000 will be kaput. Gone. Not available for distribution to people in danger. Yes, it’s that dire. Do your part right now by going to the Secular Rescue website, and see your gift tripled.
Lead by example, and let your friends know this is going on. No matter the size of the gift, it will be tripled. But this offer is only on the table today, so make the most of this generous opportunity!
Thank you for taking part in this week’s activities around International Blasphemy Rights Day. Please continue to learn more about this issue, to speak out, and to stand up for free expression.
Remember, ideas don’t need rights. People do.