Muslim Hate of Atheists
Saudi Arabia sentences a man to 10 years in jail and 2,000 lashes for tweeting that he was an atheist
The hardline Islamic state has a law defining atheist beliefs as 'terrorism'
BY FELIX ALLEN
31st August 2016
A COURT in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to ten years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing his atheism on Twitter.
The 28-year-old reportedly refused to repent, insisting what he wrote
reflected his beliefs and that he had the right to express them.
The hardline Islamic state’s religious police in charge of monitoring
social networks found more than 600 tweets denying the existence of
God, ridiculing Koranic verses, accusing all prophets of lies and
saying their teaching fuelled hostilities.
The court also fined him around £4,000.
He was sentenced under a controversial law that defines atheism as “terrorism”.
In 2014 the late King Abdullah issued a string of royal decrees aimed
at clamping down on all forms of political dissent and protests that
could “harm public order”.
Article one of the new provisions defined terrorism as “calling for
atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals
of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights
Watch, said at the time the new measures were introduced: “Saudi
authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these
recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or
independent association into crimes of terrorism.”
Bangladeshi al Qaeda wing declares war on atheists
By Ivan Watson, CNN
April 9, 2016
(CNN)Bangladeshi officials are investigating a claim of responsibility
by al Qaeda's wing in South Asia for the machete murder of a secular
blogger in Dhaka.
"We are seriously looking into it," said Anisul Huq, Bangladesh's minister for law.
"Unless we are totally sure that this claim ... is authentic, I don't think we will be commenting on it."
According to the jihadist monitoring group SITE, Al Qaeda in the Indian
Subcontinent (AQIS) claims that the movement's Bangladesh branch
"carried out an operation to slaughter" Nazimuddin Samad in the
Bangladesh police say the 26-year-old writer and graduate student was
ambushed by attackers Wednesday night. The attackers slashed Samad with
machetes and shot him before escaping the scene on a motorcycle.
Police tell CNN they have yet to make any arrests in the wake of the murder.
In its statement, al Qaeda accused Samad of being an "enemy of Allah."
It lists three of Samad's posts on Facebook going back to 2013 as
examples of his insults against Islam.
The group effectively declares war against atheist writers who dare to challenge al Qaeda's strict interpretation of Islam.
It also threatens to target judges, lawyers, engineers and doctors "who
don't allow others to follow the rulings of the Islamic Shariah."
Samad is the sixth writer or publisher of atheist material to have been murdered in Dhaka in the past 14 months.
Is there a way to protect Bangladeshi writers?
Bangladeshi authorities have previously denied that foreign groups such
as al Qaeda or ISIS have taken root in the majority Muslim country.
Instead, it says the murders of secular writers in the capital, as well
as a series of deadly attacks against Hindu, Christian and Shi'ite
minority groups across the country, are the work of homegrown
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan echoed those sentiments on Saturday. He
said the issue is not freedom of expression but tolerance of other
"The bloggers, they should control their writing," he told CNN. "Our
country is a secular state... I want to say that people should be
careful not to hurt anyone by writing anything -- hurt any religion,
any people's beliefs, any religious leaders."
The 'sin' that could get you killed in Bangladesh
The Bangladeshi government has vowed to bring killers to justice.
Law Minister Huq pointed to the December 2015 death sentence handed
down to two men convicted of killing blogger Ahmed Rajib in 2013.
Asked if the government would adopt new measures to protect
Bangladesh's embattled community of atheists, Huq said security forces
had "intensified protective mechanisms."
Several top government officials insist security forces will provide protection to writers who feel their lives are at risk.
Atheists flee Bangladesh
But members of the besieged "free-thinker" intellectual community in
Bangladesh say they do not trust the police, because in recent years
authorities prosecuted several writers for "insulting religion" in
their published work.
"I have not gone to the police because police actually tried to arrest me in 2013," said one atheist blogger in Bangladesh.
He asked not to be identified, due to the fact that he is on a hit list
of 84 atheist writers published by a jihadi group more than a year ago.
The blogger is part of a network that has helped at least a dozen
colleagues flee Bangladesh.
"This community is shattered," the writer said.
To avoid being murdered, the blogger said he stopped posting comments
online, changed his phone number and place of residence and regularly
changed his route to and from work.
He said he felt like it was a de facto crime to admit to being an atheist in this majority Muslim country.
"I'm definitely living in fear," the writer said.
In 2015, the freedom of press watchdog organization Committee to
Protect Journalists listed Bangladesh as 12th in the world on its
Global Impunity Index highlighting countries "where journalists are
slain and the killers go free."
Yet another Bangladeshi blogger hacked to death
By Saeed Ahmed, CNN
Wed May 13, 2015
(CNN)Attacks on bloggers critical of Islam have taken on a disturbing
regularity in Bangladesh, with yet another writer hacked to death
Ananta Bijoy Das, 32, was killed Tuesday morning as he left his home on
his way to work at a bank, police in the northeastern Bangladeshi city
of Sylhet said.
Four masked men attacked him, hacking him to death with cleavers and
machetes, said Sylhet Metropolitan Police Commissioner Kamrul Ahsan.
The men then ran away. Because of the time of the morning when the
attack happened, there were few witnesses. But police say they are
following up on interviewing the few people who saw the incident.
"It's one after another after another," said Imran Sarker, who heads
the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh. "It's the same
scenario again and again. It's very troubling."
Das' death was at least the third this year of someone who'd posted
pieces online critical of Islam. In each case, the attacks were carried
out publicly on city streets.
In March, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was hacked to death by two men with
knives and meat cleavers just outside his house as he headed to work at
a travel agency in the capital, Dhaka.
In February, a Bangladesh-born American blogger, Avijit Roy, was
similarly killed with machetes and knives as he walked back from a book
fair in Dhaka.
The three victims are hardly the only ones who have paid a steep price for their views.
In the last two years, several bloggers have died, either murdered or under mysterious circumstances.
In 2014, Reporters Without Borders reported that a group calling itself
Defenders of Islam in Bangladesh had published a "hit list" of writers
it saw as opposing Islam.
"They listed 84 bloggers, mostly secularists. They listed 84 of them,"
said blogger Asif Mohiuddin, whose name was on the list. "Nine of them
are already killed and many of the were attacked."
Das was an atheist who contributed to Mukto Mona ("Free Thinkers"), the blog that Roy founded.
Mukto Mona contains sections titled "Science" and "Rationalism," and
most of the articles hold science up to religion as a litmus test,
which it invariably fails.
While Das was critical of fundamentalism, in Islam and other religions,
and of the attacks on secular thinkers, he was mostly concerned with
He was the editor of a local science magazine, Jukti ("Reason"), and wrote several books, including one work on Charles Darwin.
In 2006, the blog awarded Das its Rationalist Award for his "deep and
courageous interest in spreading secular & humanist ideals and
messages in a place which is not only remote, but doesn't have even a
handful of rationalists."
"He was a voice of social resistance; he was an activist," said Sarker. "And now, he too has been silenced."
Taking to the streets
Soon after Das' death, his Facebook wall was flooded with messages of
shock and condolence. And hundreds of protesters took to the streets in
Sylhet demanding that the government bring his killers to justice.
"We've heard from Ananta's friends that some people threatened to kill
him as he was critical of religion," Das' brother-in-law Somor Bijoy
Shee Shekhor said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
"We are ashamed, brother Bijoy," someone posted on Das' Facebook page.
"Is a human life worth so little? Do we not have the right to live without fear?" wrote another.
Police are investigating all three recent deaths, but few believe the real culprits will be brought to justice.
"One of the reasons it's come to this stage because a) they know they
can get away with it. Anyone can get away with anything at this point,"
said Shahidul Alam, another blogger. "There is no such thing as the
rule of law. And despite these attacks, the government has taken no
serious attempt to bring perpetrators to justice or investigate what's
Bangladesh has an ever-dwindling number of outspoken voices. Deaths like Das' only helps to silence the remaining few.
Journalist Farid Ahmed contributed to this report from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Death to bloggers: Bangladesh Islamists
April 07, 2013
HUNDREDS of thousands of Islamists rallied in Dhaka after an overnight
"long march" to the Bangladeshi capital, demanding the execution of
atheist bloggers for defaming Islam.
It is the latest protest to rack Bangladesh, deepening tensions between
secularists and the largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, whose
leaders are under trial for crimes committed during the country's 1971
war of independence.
The Islamists converged on Dhaka's main commercial hub to protest
against what they say are blasphemous writings by atheist bloggers,
defying a pro-government national strike by secular protesters - who
staged a smaller rival protest in Dhaka Saturday - aimed at resisting
Police said about 100,000 people attended the rally during which protesters chanted "God is great, hang the atheist bloggers".
Protest organisers, who called the rally the "long march" with many
travelling from remote villages, put the number at more than half a
million, as Dhaka's Motijheel commercial area turned into a sea of
"I've come here to fight for Islam. We won't allow any bloggers to
blaspheme our religion and our beloved Prophet Mohammed," said Shahidul
Islam, an imam at a mosque outside Dhaka who walked 20km.
Hefajat-e-Islam, an Islamic group which draws support from tens of
thousands of seminaries, organised the rally in support of its 13-point
demand including enactment of a blasphemy law to prosecute and hang
There has been vociferous debate between staunch atheists and
fundamentalists in Bangladesh's social media for years, but it took a
deadly turn in February when an anti-Islam blogger was murdered.
This week four online writers were arrested on charges of hurting
religious sentiment through their Internet writings against Islam.
Following recent protests over the on-going war crimes tribunal the
government has blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem the
It has also set up a panel, which includes intelligence chiefs, to monitor blasphemy on social media.
Under the country's cyber laws, a blogger or Internet writer can face up to 10 years in jail for defaming a religion.
Dhaka has been virtually cut off from the rest of the country since
Friday afternoon - when secularists called a 22-hour nationwide strike
to obstruct the march - as private transport operators stopped services
fearing clashes between Islamists and secular protesters.
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