by Bengali Atheist
I am an outspoken ex-Muslim atheist, feminist, and human rights activist from Bangladesh. You can refer to me as Bengali Atheist. I don’t know if I will be able to fully express the current situation for atheists like me in Bangladesh, but every moment of my life passes with the constant fear of rape and death. Islamic extremists could break into my house and kill me at any moment.
I have tirelessly written about religious freedom, democracy, free speech, women’s rights, LGBT rights, indigenous women’s rights in Bangladesh, and Islamic extremism. Today, I risk my life every time I speak my mind. I have received rape and death threats from Jamaat-Shibir, Ansar-Al-Islam, and Hefajat-e-Islam for my writings and for supporting and endorsing common sense human rights.
All the other atheist writers who were killed in Bangladesh were all males and were far older than me. I am an outspoken female atheist writer, which makes me even more vulnerable. Unlike other atheist writers like Washiqur Rahman, I have never used a pseudonym on my social media accounts. I have been an outspoken critic of Islam and all other religions with my real name and picture. My location can also be easily traced.
I never thought anybody would try to kill me just for my writings on social media. Initially, I thought at least my moderate, English-speaking Muslim friends would support me and help me to reform Islam, but I was woefully wrong. My Muslim friends have deleted me from social media and have cut all ties with me. My former Muslim friends with whom I have the best childhood memories now refuse to even sit beside me. They consider me impure and sinful because I dare to question Allah.
I was shocked when I found out that well-educated Muslim students from North South University (NSU), the top private English university in Bangladesh, were involved in the murder of atheist blogger and activist Rajib Haider. NSU is the best private university in my country and many of my friends and relatives are studying there. I’ve witnessed many of my Muslim relatives and friends becoming radicalized.
Now, my English-speaking Muslim friends and relatives want to kill me unless I convert back to Islam. Some Muslims want to report my name to the police so that the government can punish me for leaving Islam. According to my Muslim community, I have committed blasphemy. Hence, I deserve the cruelest punishment.
I cannot even report threats to the police in Bangladesh. The police will arrest me for the grave crime of insulting Islam instead of arresting extremists. Under Section 57 of the 2006 Information and Communication Technology Act, I could end up in jail for 14-plus years with heavy fines for the crime of hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.
My Muslim friends and relatives consider me a disgrace—an immoral atheist like me should not have been born to a Muslim family in a Muslim-majority country. My Bengali Muslim community is ashamed to admit that I’m a Bangladeshi with a Muslim name. How dare I criticize Allah and The Prophet? My Muslim community believes an evil person like me who criticizes Allah has no right to live and should be executed publicly. After all, it’s Farz (duty) for all true Muslims to kill apostates. When I look into my parents’ eyes all I see is shame. My parents are deeply ashamed of me because I don’t believe in Islam. My parents no longer want to educate me, nor do they want to keep any kind of association with me.
The recent murder of atheist activist Nazimuddin Samad left our community shocked. Men from Ansar-Al-Islam and Jamaat-Shibir already know my name and face. I am also at risk of facing honor-based violence and torture by my own Muslim family. I am under attack both by political Islamic extremists and my family. I do not want to live my life under constant fear of death. I want to live my life openly, and I want to continue my education. My American atheist friends have donated to my GoFundMe account so that I can flee from Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi government, police, political Islamic groups, my own family, and the general population and media of Bangladesh are all against atheists. I have no option but to flee from Bangladesh in order to survive.
Culled from The News Hub
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.