For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
April 11, 2013
An international organization advocating for the nonreligious urged Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday to pressure the government of Bangladesh to reverse its policy of arresting atheist bloggers for writing content critical of religion.
In a letter to Secretary Kerry and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) asked the State Department to “do all it can to raise public awareness of this situation and pressure Bangladesh to honor its obligations to the international community.”
Bangladeshi authorities have recently arrested several prominent atheist bloggers for “hurting religious sentiments,” under Section 295A of the Bangladesh Penal Code. Home Minister M.K. Alamgir warned that the government has a list of seven more “atheist bloggers” who will soon be targeted. Just today, a newspaper editor was arrested merely for printing quotations from the targeted bloggers. Last week, tens of thousands of protesters belonging to the radical group Islami Andolan Bangladesh rallied in the country’s capital, Dhaka, for even tougher blasphemy laws and still more arrests. They have threatened violence if their demands are not met by April 25.
“The criminalization of atheism and religious dissent has reached a crisis level around the world, with the crackdown on atheists in Bangladesh a terrible new milestone,” said Michael De Dora, Director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy. “Now is the time for Secretary Kerry to step in, speak up, and help begin to reverse this tide of persecution and oppression.”
The letter to the State Department is the first step in what CFI promises will be further efforts on behalf of the Bangladeshi bloggers, as it mounts new efforts to rally popular support for freedom of belief and expression in the coming weeks.
CFI Letter to Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Cook [PDF]: http://bit.ly/CFIKerry
Campaign for Free Expression: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/cfe
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.