was threatened by the religious fundamentalists
in my country Bangladesh. They have decreed a fatwa
against me and set a price on my head. Not only
that, I am a criminal according to the government
of my country too. The government there has banned
my book, and issued an arrest warrant against me
for committing blasphemy. I was forced to leave
my country. Since 6 years I have been living in
was born in a Muslim family, but I became an atheist.
In course of my training in science, I developed
the powers of observation, experiment, analysis,
and reasoning. Without reasoning, I found, nothing
should be accepted as fact. I have been fighting
against injustice, unreason, and prejudice. I exposed
the crimes of religion, particularly the injustice
and oppression against women.
makes me surprised that some Western states have
declared the protection of human rights to be one
of their supreme objectives, but then they patronized
fundamentalism both overtly and covertly. Democratic
governments recognize military dictatorships for
short-run political interests. Secular states make
friends with autocracies as well as theocracies.
They even tolerate the completely inhuman behavior
of their own fundamentalists. Such double standards
practiced by so-called democratic and secular states
at home and abroad give the fundamentalists a sort
of legitimacy. Governments then have to succumb
to the fundamentalists' pressure and proscribe books
and make arrangements to send its writers and authors
Westerners argue that not all the customs in the
third world countries are harmful for women. They
find a sort of stability and social peace in the
oriental world. It is nonsense. For me, there can
be no difference in the concept of human rights
between the East and the West. If the veil is bad
for Western women, then it is bad for their oriental
sisters as well. If patriarchy is to be fought against
in the West, it should be equally fought against
in the East. The fight, in fact, is more urgent
there because most of the women have neither any
education nor any economic independence. If modem
secular education is good for Western women, why
should the Eastern women be deprived of it!
fundamentalists cannot be countered without a relentless
and uncompromising fight. The struggle should be
both theoretical and tactical. Democracy and secularism
should be applied in practice and not remain a mere
play of words.
is an ideology that diverts people from the path
of natural development of consciousness and undermines
their personal rights. Fundamentalists do not believe
in individualism, liberty of personal choice, or
plurality of thought. Moreover, as they are believers
in a particular faith, they believe only in propagating
their own ideas as autocrats generally do . They
do not encourage or entertain free debate, they
deny others the right to express their own views
freely, and they cannot tolerate anything which
they perceive as going against their faith.
believe in fundamental rights of human beings to
express themselves orally or in their writings;
in equal rights for women in every sphere of life;
and in constructing a society in which everybody
gets a fair deal. We all should work for it. Media
is helpful for spreading the ideas of human rights.
And for media to work, the state has to be secular,
the religious laws has to be abolished to create
uniform civil code in which women get equalities.
Education, of course secular education is important
for women to get the knowledge about their rights.
Religious education and politics based on religion
must be banned to save the mankind. As they are
not banned in my country, and the country is not
secular, I, as a writer and journalist, once worked
in media, was prevented to express my ideas and
thoughts. It is impossible to have coexistence of
religion and freedom of expression.