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Alternative Voices Speaking For A Secular Bangladesh

Bangladeshi liberal humanist, free-thinker and award winning blogger Asif Mohiuddin has been invited to speak at the World Humanist Congress 2014 in Oxford, UK. He was arrested multiple times for his alleged ‘anti-state’ and ‘anti-religious’ writings, attacked by fundamentalists, and is living with death threats. Here is an excerpt from the translation of his Facebook status in Bengali on 3 March 2014 about being invited to speak at the Congress and how Bangladesh should be perceived on the global stage:

Bangladeshi doesn’t mean South Asia’s Islamic fundamentalist – Pakistan’s little brother. There is religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh, but there are also voices raised in protest against it, much like in the United States and Europe.

We just need to get our voice to the international stage. We need to make our position clear. If we don’t, the outside world will always see us as illiterate, religious fundamentalist, far right nationalist, misogynist, anti-gay, backwards-thinking and we will keep being seen as a mini-Pakistan, mini-Afghanistan, mini-Saudi Arabia. It’s time to change these perceptions.

We want to change from a moderate Muslim country to be secular Bangladesh, where there is free speech and equal rights for all. We are marching towards that future and hopefully the outside world will see us.

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