In Worldwide Protests, Atheists to Demand Response to Bangladesh’s Crackdown on Free Expression

April 18, 2013

From the Center for Inquiry:

An international coalition of atheist and humanist organizations, led by the Center for Inquiry, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, American Atheists, and CFI-Canada, will protest the arrest and persecution of atheist bloggers and other dissenters in Bangladesh with demonstrations in New York, Washington, London, Ottawa, and other cities around the world on Thursday, April 25.

Bangladesh has recently been at the center of a human rights crisis as authorities have detained several prominent bloggers for “hurting religious sentiments,” followed by the arrest of a newspaper editor who printed quotations from the targeted bloggers, and two more young people for making “derogatory remarks” about Islam on Facebook. Tens of thousands of people have rallied in the country’s capital to demand more arrests, tougher blasphemy laws, and have threatened violence if their demands are not met by April 25.

With these unprecedented demonstrations, secularistsaround the world will express their solidarity with those jailed for speaking their minds about religion. Protesters will draw global attention to the plight of those persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of belief and expression, and attempt to spur the international community to take action and compel the government of Bangladesh to change course. Up-to-date information on protest events can be found at http://bit.ly/defenddissent.

“The events in Bangladesh are only the latest instance of a fierce global crackdown on ‘blasphemy,’ with the criminalization of atheism and religious dissent,” said protest coordinator Michael De Dora, director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy. “To all those who believe that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, we call upon you to join us, religious believer and atheist alike. We can show those whose lives and freedoms are threatened that they are not forgotten, and send a message to these oppressive regimes that their abuses will not be ignored.”

Full details are available here.