Worldwide Protests for Free Expression in Bangladesh

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Picture used by online activists to show the solidarity with 2013 Bengali blog blackout

On April 25, 2013 and May 2nd 2013, an international consortium of nonbelievers rallied outside Bangladeshi embassies and consulates around the world to demand the release of several Bangladeshi bloggers who were arrested on charges of blasphemy.[1][2] The demonstrations were held in Dhaka, New York, Washington D.C., Colombia, London, Ottawa, New Brunswick and other cities around the world.[2] With these demonstrations, secularists around the world expressed their solidarity with those jailed for speaking their minds about religion. Protesters drew global attention to the plight of those persecuted for exercising their rights of freedom of speech, and attempted to spur the international community to take action and compel the government of Bangladesh to change course.[3]


Michael De Dora, the director of the Center for Inquiry (CFI)'s Office of Policy and the organization's representative to the U.N. organized the event,[1] coordinated by Avijit Roy, the founder of Mukto-Mona, an independent site for free thinkers and skeptics of mainly Bengali origin.[4][5] Maryam Namazie, the Iranian-born activist independently called for April 25 to be an international day to defend Bangladesh’s bloggers and activists.[citation needed] Many writers, activists, and prominent intellectuals around the world including Taslima Nasrin, Hemant Mehta, PZ Myers and others also publicly expressed their solidarity and support.[2]

The beginnings of event started during the shahbag protest when the bloggers of Bangladesh came out onto the streets and demanded capital punishment for Abdul Quader Molla, a war criminal of Bangladesh liberation war and a leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. During the peak of the movement, Ahmed Rajib Haider, a blogger who was critical of Jamaat-e-Islami, was killed by few Jamaat activists.[6][7] Another atheist activist named Saniur, popularly known as 'Nastik nobi' (Atheist Prophet) in the blog and Facebook community was also stabbed by fundamentalist miscreants.[8] Afterwards, a Jamaat backed started violent protest demanding death penalty for all allegedly "anti-Islamic" bloggers, and they termed all participants of shahbag movement as atheist.[9] As an aftermath of these events, the government of Bangladesh started monitoring on blogosphere and sent letters to the Bengali blog authorities to terminate the alleged "anti-religious" blogs and to provide information about the alleged "anti-religious" bloggers.[10]
On the night of 1 April 2013, three bloggers were arrested by detectives. Blogger Rasel Pervez, a science teacher in profession, and Mashiur Rahman Biplob were arrested on 1 April 2013 from their house. Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, who is a masters student of Bengali department at University of Dhaka, was also arrested on the same day from his university dormitory.[11]
The blogger Asif Mohiuddin was called to the police station on 3 April 2013, and was arrested on arrival .[12] Earlier, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission forced the Bengali blog somewhereinblog,net to remove all writings[13] of Asif Mohiuddin.[14] The move was criticized by the Human Rights Watch,[15] Amnesty International, Center for Inquiry, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, and several other bodies.[2] The prominent Bangladesh blog sites organized the 2013 Bengali blog blackout event to protest the government's decision for arresting the bloggers. The issue was able to create a media attention even in western media, which eventually led the secularist and humanist bodies to organize the worldwide protest to save the bloggers.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Atheists Rally Around Jailed Bangladeshi Bloggers". 2013-04-25. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  2. ^ a b c d Avijit Roy (2013-05-08). "The Struggle of Bangladeshi Bloggers". Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  3. ^ "Worldwide Protests for Free Expression in Bangladesh". 2013-04-25. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  4. ^ "No Flag Large Enough to Cover the Shame - Guest Post from Dr. Avijit Roy". 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  5. ^ Avijit Roy (2013-04-29). "No Flag Large Enough to Cover the Shame". Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  6. ^ "Shahbagh blogger killed in Pallabi". The Daily Star (Bangladesh). 15 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Shahbagh protest to go relentless". 15 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "Blogger Saniur files case". 2013-03-09. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  9. ^ "Muslims rally in Bangladesh amid shutdown". AP. 6 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "100,000 Bangladeshi Protesters Rallied To Demand The Execution of Atheist Bloggers". 6 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "Four Bangladeshi bloggers arrested for "blasphemous" posts". ifex. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Blogger Asif arrested". Daily Star (Bangladesh). 4 April 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  13. ^ {{cite news It must be noted that the current Bangladeshi Governor has put in jail and/or found guilty those who have criticized the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ability to run the country. Moreover, she has ignored the international community and its advice when she was urged to follow international law when trying the accused. All but one were given death sentences, when even the judges expressed the utmost doubt in the prescribed law used and evidenced offered. | title = God, Almighty only in name but impotent in reality (Blog title; transl.) | author = Asif Mohiuddin | publisher = | url = | date = | accessdate = }} present blog page reads: "blog has been withdrawn or cancelled for violating terms and conditions" (transl.)
  14. ^ "Bangladesh gags award-winning blogger". 25 March 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Bangladesh: Crackdown on Bloggers, Editors Escalates". Human Rights Watch. 15 April 2013.  "the government is abandoning any serious claim that it is committed to free speech,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
  16. ^ Trisha Ahmed and Avijit Roy (October–November 2013). Free thought Under Attack in Bangladesh 33 (6). Free Inquiry.