A woman was punished for being gangraped in Saudi Arabia

The woman of a violent gang rape has been sentenced by a Saudi Arabian court to 200 lashes and six months in jail for the crimes of speaking to the press and indecency.

Under Islamic law, you can only prove rape if rapists agree that they rape or you have four male witnesses. But unfortunately men do not say that they rape and they do not rape in front of witnesses. Without witnesses a rape is considered to be adultery.

The Qur’an says,
Qur’an (2:282) – Establishes that a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man’s in court (there is no “he said/she said” gridlock in Islam).

Qur’an (24:4) – “And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses (to adultery), flog them…” Strictly speaking, this verse addresses adultery (revealed at the very time that Muhammad’s favorite wife was being accused of adultery on the basis of only three witnesses coincidentally enough). However it is a part of the theological underpinning of the Sharia rule on rape, since if there are not four male witnesses, the rape “did not occur”.

Qur’an (24:13) – “Why did they not bring four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought witnesses they are liars before Allah.”

Qur’an (2:223) – “Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will…” There is no such thing as rape in marriage, as a man is permitted unrestricted sexual access to his wives.

And the Hadith says,

Bukhari (5:59:462) – The background for the Qur’anic requirement of four witnesses to adultery. Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of cheating [on her polygamous husband]. Three witnesses corroborated the event, but Muhammad apparently did not want to believe it, and so established the arbitrary rule that four witnesses are required.

Saudi Arabia is doing exactly what Muhammad wanted to do. We are in the 21st century but we still are following 7th century’s laws! The woman could not find four witnesses, so she was seen as adulterous. She is now punished for adultery.

Egypt closed 27,000 mosques to stop terrorism. When will other countries do the same?

Egypt took a good decision. Mosques have always been breeding grounds for terrorists. More mosques mean more terrorism.
Other countries should learn from Egypt. Close all mosques. I can assure you Islamic terrorism will be reduced by fifty percent. The rest will be gone after madrasas get closed.

Prove am wrong.

Ancient civilization destroyed!

I have never been a fan of Memri TV but I am still sharing this video posted originally by ISIS. This clip shows ISIS destroying beyond recognition 3,000-year-old precious artworks. Some of the vandalized pieces were pre-historic Assyrian sculptures dating back to the 9th century BCE. The ISIS indeed are true followers of Muhammad. Muhammad destroyed 360 idols inside the Ka’aba. His followers were deputed to destruct temples of pre-Islamic Arabian goddesses, al-lat and al-Uzza.

President Obama, would you please listen to me

Dear President Obama,
Saudi Arabia will not listen to me. I am nobody. They may listen to you, because you are their very good friend. Would you please tell your friend to stop harassing and torturing the Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi? He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes. He may now face death penalty.

I tell you what happened.

Mr Badawi’s wife said that judges in Saudi Arabia’s criminal court want Raif Badawi to undergo a re-trial for apostasy. If found guilty, he would face a death sentence. She said the “dangerous information” had come from “official sources” inside the conservative kingdom, where Mr Badawi has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes – administered at a rate of 50 per week – for criticising the country’s clerics through his liberal blog.

In 2013, a judge threw out the charge of apostasy against the 31-year-old blogger after he assured the court that he was a Muslim. The evidence against him had included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.
The news that the charge may now be re-examined will come as a bitter blow to Mr Badawi’s family and supporters, who had hoped that the international pressure over his case would prompt Saudi Arabia to reduce his sentence.

I am not like Badawi’s Saudi relatives. I don’t want Saudi Arabia to reduce his sentence. I want Saudi Arabia to free him and honor him as a free thinker. If you believe in human rights, freedom of expression and democracy at all, you should not only ask the people of your country to practice them, you should tell the whole world to practice them, starting with the countries you are friends with. Why would you even want to maintain a friendship with them if they never care enough to listen to sound advice from you? Now it is time to decide; please decide whether you want to remain friends with an undemocratic country which is a violator of human rights and freedom of expression.

Sincerely Yours,
Taslima Nasreen

Then what?

I received an award a few days ago. It was the Hedenius award from a Swedish human rights organisation. This award was named after the Swedish philosopher Ingemar Hedenius. He was a professor of philosophy at the famous University of Uppsala.

He fought against Christianity. He even wrote books on the subject of no healthy argument being possible between religion and science. The Hedenius award is given to those who relentlessly fight against fanaticism, superstitions, etc. I have received several awards from Europe and America. The recognition that I receive for writing in favour of humanity and human rights eliminates the pain of my exile.

Sometimes I wonder what will happen to all these awards after I die. I have no home, no country. They will probably be lost. I lost many awards already. I have been forced to lead a Bohemian life for 20 years now. Since my childhood, I wished to get a house of my own and decorate it in my own way.

My wish never came true. Now, I don’t dream about settling down anymore. The older I get, the less I dream of houses. The thought occurs to me that I have to leave everything behind one day. And I frequently remember that everything in life, even life itself, is temporary.

Only Swedish people are eligible for the Hedenius award. As I am a Swedish citizen, I didn’t face any difficulty in getting this award. A brown girl with black hair is Swedish! Even I can’t believe it. Swedish men and women are tall, broad, white-skinned with blonde hair, whereas I am a Bengali from head to toe.

As Bangladesh wouldn’t renew my passport, even though I am a citizen, I had to accept a Swedish passport. With that came citizenship. And with the citizenship came the Hedenius award. I have a love-hate relationship with Sweden. I love the country, and then I don’t – a lot like my feelings towards Bangladesh and France.


That night, I met another humanitarian and Hedenius award winner – the famous Björn Ulvaeus. He was one of the four singers of the famous Swedish band Abba. The band survived for only 10 years, from 1972 to 1982. Yet they were famous worldwide.

After the band broke up, Björn and Benny Andersson, another member of the band, continued their singing careers. They did well, but it was nothing compared to the popularity of Abba. Abba’s music became popular again after movies like Muriel’s Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert, and Mamma Mia. People started listening to their songs again.

I had dinner with Björn that night. American humanitarian writer Rebecca Goldstein and a few other British and Swedish humanists were also there with us. We discussed many things over dinner, but not a single word about Abba.

He is a free thinker and he doesn’t believe in religion. He has a publication house named Fri Tanke, that promotes free thinking. They published many books in Swedish, but I won’t say that the house is very profitable.

People don’t read books on atheism, humanitarianism, and science. If 85% of the people in a country are atheists, then the number of people who read books on science cannot be too small. When I was talking to Björn, I was thinking about how this very famous person never hesitated to declare that he is an atheist.

Usually, famous or popular upper-class people do not want to disturb the social structure. They want to be identified as the dedicated servants of religion and patriarchy. They want to avoid controversy. Not everyone can be John Lennon or a Monty Python. Not everyone can be Björn Ulvaeus.

Sweden is the best country in the world for human rights and women’s rights. There is no discrimination against anyone – woman, atheist, homosexual, transgender, black, or brown – in making their way to the top. I don’t live in Sweden, but I am proud of the country.

I wonder if Bangladesh can ever become a country like Sweden. Maybe it will, but I know it won’t be in your lifetime or mine. Even if it takes a thousand years, one day, the country will be civilised – this is my dream.

The blouse over sari conundrum

In a Bangladeshi Lux Channel I Superstar Competition, a girl wore a blouse over her sari. Girls, these days, usually wear the sari over the blouse. I quite liked the idea. I’m curious as to exactly who came up with it – was it the girl or the fashion designer?

Wearing the petticoat over the sari might look nice as well, or maybe even tying the petticoat over the bust while wearing the sari as a skirt, keeping the blouse as bajubandh (armlet).

Clothes can be worn in a number of different ways, the trend of wearing a petticoat itself is quite new, as is the trend of wearing a sari with a kuchi (pleat).

When exactly did the sari arrive in our region? There was a time when both men and women used to wear the dhuti. Women used to wear the lungi like the men in South India. In ancient India, women didn’t cover their chests at all, or when they did, they would use a scarf or a brassiere.

The pieces of clothing would be unstitched, as was the tradition among Hindus back then. I don’t know exactly why but stitched clothes were considered unholy. The sari gradually emerged from the dhuti. Back then the term sari was not used, it was called a sattika. The sanskrit word sattika gave way to sati, sati to sadi, and finally sadi became sari.

In the 17th century, Odisha saw the emergence of the fishtail style which went something like this: the legs were wrapped in a dhuti and the end was draped over the shoulder like a fishtail, the tail was the aanchal (area). The dhuti for women slowly evolved into the sari.

The blouse and petticoat came about after the arrival of the British. The Muslims had brought the ghagra, and the petticoat was inspired from this ghagra. Our history of the sari is in fact India’s history of the sari. The Hindus were our preceding men and women. We were not born as a Bangali race in 1971; this Bangalee race has been around for millenia. Those who know of the evolution of the sari should have no qualms about any succeeding alterations in this attire.

The predecessors of our preceding women used to go naked or cover themselves with bark or animal skin, after which they started wearing clothes. Us women from this day and age are wearing the aanchal over the blouse, but that does not mean it is going to be a permanent stand for the attire, this too will pass and a new style will emerge.

People have always and will continue to come up with new and innovative ideas. If women are wearing the blouse over the sari that’s fine, if you don’t like it, you do not have to wear it just like I am not going to. I would have if I was slimmer. I have never conformed to contemporary fashion. My preference in fashion can be phrased as “whatever I like,” – the pinnacle of casual wear.

I rarely iron my clothes and tend to put on anything I find close at hand, shirts, pants, shorts, t-shirts or saris, but mostly cotton saris. These days I stay away from salwar kameez and skirts, I don’t care for feminine clothes much. I don’t find the sari “feminine” at all, instead I feel salwar kameez and skirts are much more feminine.

The sari does not even slow me down; I maintain the same pace wearing a sari as when I’m wearing shirts, pants and shoes. A sari is feminine you say? I ask, did men appear feminine when they wore dhutis? The categorisation and subsequent discrimination of the masculine and the feminine are inventions of sexists.

In ancient Greece when men with extremely masculine personalities used to wear the toga much like a sari, did they appear feminine at all? If, starting today, men start wearing the sari and women shirts and pants, then soon enough people will say the sari is quite masculine while shirts and pants are feminine. There’s nothing wrong with being masculine or feminine. It all goes wrong when something masculine is considered superior to something feminine.

No form of attire is obscene, even a complete lack of clothing is not obscene. In the Amazon jungle or the Andaman islands, when the natives walk around naked, does it appear obscene? We created the definition of obscenity; the definition is obscene, the ugly minds of people are obscene. The mind that thinks women who do not wear clothes according to the preference of men are devoid of character, is obscene.

The mind that thinks wearing short clothes is an acquiescence for rape is obscene. The mind that thinks men should wear whatever they want, but women must not, is obscene. The mind that thinks women are sexual objects, but men are not, so men should decide what women should wear, is obscene.

We all know that if someone gets naked in the midst of clothed people, that person will appear obscene. At the same time, clothes often become the cause of much obscenity. A few years ago, I spent the summer in Berlin. On an afternoon I had set out to take a swim in a nearby lake. On reaching a field adjacent to the lake right by the road side, I was shocked to witness hundreds of men, women and children sitting or lying around naked.

They were all getting a tan and taking a dip in the lake every now and then. They had brought food and water for the entire day and were eating right there as a family. I stood amongst them, clothed head to toe; everyone was staring at me wide eyed in wonder and amusement. Some eyes hinted at annoyance. Even I could tell I looked obscene.

I lowered my head ashamed of having clothes on. Just like a naked woman tries to cover her nudity with her hands, I found myself trying to hide my clothes with my hands.

Soon one by one I took off all my clothes save for my under garments. But no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t take them off; some form of inner resistance held me back. It’s not as if I knew someone in that field and yet I couldn’t get naked in front of a field full of naked people. I had hoped I too would get a tan, and take a dip in the lake but the fact that I couldn’t get naked compelled me to leave that area.

Those hundreds of naked men and women did not seem obscene to me, instead I felt obscene myself. It had nothing to do with clothes. Obscenity can emerge from clothes as much as from the lack thereof.

Personally, I believe no form of attire can be obscene. But the kind of clothes that are designed and imposed on women, burying their liberty and spontaneity in order to remove obscenity, such as the burka and the hijab, I find extremely obscene.

Sometimes I don’t understand why women should cover their chests at all: wear a bra, put on a blouse over it, a sari on top of that, or wear a dress, wrap a scarf over it and a burka on top of that. It’s as if to make it so that people can’t tell that women have breasts. If one can tell that a woman has breasts underneath her clothes why is it so disastrous? Noticing it, a heterosexual male might get sexually aroused. Well, let them, it’s only natural, just like it is perfectly natural for women to get sexually aroused on seeing men.

But we cannot forget that in a civilised society we have rules, such as: you cannot jump on a woman just because you’re aroused, you must have consent from the woman in order to engage in anything sexual. Instead of following this rule, women are forced to wear the burka. They’re being marginalised in society. A human being is getting turned into a walking talking prison cell.

A man who gets aroused will get aroused whether a woman is wearing a burka or not and one who does not get aroused will not do so even if the woman is walking naked. The civilised man knows how to control desire. The uncivilised need to be made civilised. Imposing a burka on a woman denies the need for uncivilised men to be made civilised.

The society of Bangladesh still resides in darkness. Enormous bungalows, expensive cars, towering shopping malls – we have it all; all that is missing is a healthy mindset. So whenever a woman wears a blouse over a sari a heated discussion ensues. Inspite of numerous schools, colleges and universities, very few of us are actually educated. Studying in universities people become either uneducated degree holders or fundamentalist terrorists. Universities do not educate people in the true sense of the term. One must become educated through one’s own efforts, using one’s own intellect.

We were born in a tiny planet among billions of planets suspended in empty space. Through billions of years of evolution we have emerged from single celled organisms. Some day, we too will become extinct, much like countless other species. The universe is not concerned with the clothes on our backs; the only ones concerned are a few women-hating, despicable people.

Only obscene men find obscenity in the bodies of women. Society is riddled with people who invent obscenity in women’s laughter, words, actions and behaviour. These men are undoubtedly obscene. I want obscenity to be made illegal. I want the obscenity present in the minds of obscene men to be made illegal. I want to rid the country of the ugly conspiracy to stifle the rights and liberty of women.

Eid in the good old days

Eid was just celebrated in Bangladesh. My country is a distant place to me now. I can’t go back even if I want to, I can’t touch it even if I reach out. It’s as if the country doesn’t exist for me anymore. It’s been 20 years since I’ve been there, 20 years since I’ve experienced Eid. A lot of the time, I am reminded it was Eid after it’s over. Years have rolled by dealing with the troubles of my life in exile. I hear about the bad news from my country more than the good.

I’ve been seeing photos of cows on my Bengali friends’ Facebook profiles for quite a few days now. The cows look like Danish or Australian cows. I didn’t see such hefty cows when I lived there. I heard they are injected with hormones to make them appear fatter. Due to the extra hormones entering their bodies from eating such meat, young girls reach puberty sooner than they should. They miss out on their childhood. This is indeed a problem.

When I was a kid, cows were very skinny. After buying a cow for Eid, it would be tied in the yard. My father would feed it straw and salt water. I really enjoyed watching the cow eat while dangling its tail. In the winter, my mother would put a blanket on the cow’s back.

Even though both of my parents took care of the cow, I always felt like it was not enough. I wouldn’t be able to sleep all night thinking about how we were sleeping under mosquito nets while the poor cow was left in the yard. What about the mosquitoes biting it?

I once proposed putting up a mosquito net for the cow. My mother did not grant it, but she arranged some dhoop to get rid of mosquitoes in the yard. I would run out to see the cow early in the morning. I would see tears in its big, beautiful, dark eyes. I would pet its neck, stomach, and its back – as if it was a new guest in our house. I would promise that this new guest would no longer have to suffer, it would even get its own mosquito net at night.

The time would soon come for the cow to be taken to the fields. Someone or the other would always drag me there to watch the cow being slaughtered. I always wished the cow would muster up all of its strength, push those men standing carrying knives and bamboo sticks out of its way, and run free, out of our sight. The slaughtering of a cow is truly a horrible thing to see.

Every time, a bunch of men would come, tie the cow’s legs, and use bamboo sticks to make it lie on the ground unable to move. Then they would slit the throat of the helpless, innocent cow with a sharp knife. Blood would start gushing out from its throat. It would scream and cry. It would struggle to get away using all of its strength, but fail.

My body would feel numb after witnessing that scene. I would feel like crying. I would run to the bathroom, lock the door, cry for a bit, and then come out. The pain of killing a cow in such a brutal manner would in no way leave me.

The pain would lessen a little in the evening when I would see hundreds of beggars gathered outside the gate for a single piece of meat, and buckets full of meat being distributed among them. I would also join in distributing it. I would be told not to give more than two pieces of meat to one beggar. But I would always give four pieces to each of them. I don’t know if beggars still crowd outside houses to collect meat. I heard my country has changed a lot. How much it has changed and in what way is something I really wish to see.

I am an atheist. To be honest, for me, there is no Eid or Christmas, puja or Hanukkah, Budda Purnima or Guru Nanak’s birthday. I believe in celebrating Pohela Boishakh and Ekushey February. I celebrate Darwin’s birthday and World Humanitarian Day. But every Eid, I become very nostalgic about those childhood days.

I remember my father waking up at dawn to bathe. And also waking his children up to shower, be it winter or summer. We would bathe merrily using Cosco soap. My father used to buy Cosco soap specially for Eid. I still don’t know why it was Cosco and not any other soap. Even today, when I see any soap in a shop that looks like the Cosco soap, I buy it. To tell you the truth, it’s not the soap I buy, I buy those lost childhood days.

Before every Eid, my father would take me and my sister to Gourahari to buy material for our dresses and drop them at the tailor’s. He would buy us shoes from Bata. But he would never listen to our pleas to buy bangles, necklaces, or lipsticks. He didn’t like us getting too decked out. If we ever used any makeup, he would drag us to the tube-well to wash it off. He would always say: “Study hard and become a better person.”

On Eid morning, after we’d showered, before we could even manage to put on our new clothes, my mother would put out six to seven different kinds of shemai and jorda on the table. I still don’t understand how she managed to make so many types of shemai so early in the morning. Maybe she knew magic. My father would have shemai for breakfast with me and my siblings.

But mother would not eat. She would be busy in the kitchen. She would be done cooking the polao, the chicken curry and mutton rezala would be just about done as well. We would have our post-breakfast or pre-lunch at 10 in the morning! There would be various dishes – we would have a delicious meal with our father at the dining table. Maa would not eat. She would be busy in the kitchen. Who knows how she cooked so well on that mud stove. Maybe she knew magic. She did know magic.

Maa would not have the time to wear her Eid sari all day. Sometimes, she wouldn’t even get a new sari on Eid. When she did get a sari, it would be evening by the time she got to wear it. That is, after feeding all the guests and everyone in the house. After a while, she would have to take it off and again wear her everyday-clothes so that she could cook dinner for everyone. We would have dinner with father again. I wouldn’t even know when, what, where Maa ate. Did I ever even bother to ask?

On Qurbani Eid, mother wouldn’t even get the time to wear her new sari. From dawn, she would be preparing the ingredients to cook the beef. Maa would be in the kitchen all day. In the morning, the cow would be slaughtered in the field. The meat would be cut up on the veranda. Then the meat would be sent to the kitchen in huge bowls.

Maa would cook all day long. Whenever she would be done cooking something new, she would instantly put it on the dining table for us. I never bothered to peek inside the kitchen to see how she was doing it. I never thought of helping.

Maa is no longer with us. When she was here, I didn’t realise what it meant. I still can’t accept that she is gone. I feel the same way about father’s death. I used to dream that one day my life in exile would end, that I would go back to them. Those dreams died a long time ago.

Every Eid, I remember my mother. If I could somehow, magically, go back to those days, I would not have let her bear all the burden alone. I know the days that have passed will never come back. Still, I wish I could get them back. I know that I’ll never see my mother again. Still, I wish I would run into her somewhere.

I know that there is no heaven, still, I wish there was a heaven. And I wish my mother would live there, in heaven, for eternity. My mother spent her whole life working like a slave. She wanted to study, she wanted to be independent. But she was not allowed to do any of that. She was a woman. I spent this Eid trying to feel her sufferings. That’s how I spent this Eid.

Latif Siddique and our fragile religious sentiments

What is this? We have to be decent and polite. We need to know where to draw the line, and whatever we do has to make sense. But those who are religious don’t need to be sensible or rational. It’s not a problem if they are crude. They have the right to declare bounty on someone’s head. They have the right to be uncivilised, to be murderers. But we (by we I mean the non-believers) don’t have those rights. In every society, the believers get more advantages than the non-believers.

By now, everyone must already know exactly what the telecommunication and ICT minister, Latif Siddique, said in New York. He lost his ministry for saying what he said. Not only that, Muslim radicals started protesting on the streets against him. They are demanding his execution. A Tk5 lakh bounty has been declared on his head. He is receiving threats from different groups. Apparently, he won’t be allowed back in the country. The media has also humiliated him in different ways.

But what was his fault? It is true that after uttering the Prophet’s name, Latif Siddique did not say “peace be upon him.” Even if one does not utter those words, there is no reason for peace not to be upon the Prophet. Almighty Allah will give his soul peace nevertheless. He was the greatest friend of Allah, and He himself sent Prophet Muhammad. The problem is, most of the Bengali Muslims know very littile about the Qur’an and Hadith. They haven’t read much about the history of Islam either.

More than 90% of the Bangladeshi population is Muslim. Most of them are Muslims because their parents were Muslims. Some converted to Islam, either on their own or by force. Many of these Muslims claimed that Latif Siddique hurt the “religious sentiments of Muslims.” By Muslims, they meant all Muslims or the Muslim community as a whole. However, a group or community doesn’t have feelings, a person does. So, it can be said Latif Siddique’s words hurt some people’s sentiments.

A person doesn’t only have religious sentiments, they experience many kinds of feelings. When their other feelings are hurt, they don’t get so riled up. So it can be asked, are religious sentiments more fragile and dangerous than other feelings? Are they hurt so easily that when someone hurts religious sentiments, anyone can break the pillars of civilisation – democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech?

The Muslim countries might not make necessary arrangements to protect human rights, but each of those countries take measures to protect Islam. If anyone raises any question about Islam, then capital punishment, execution, getting slaughtered, life imprisonment, life in exile, harassment, etc are inevitable.

Muslim extremists stone women. They slaughter people brutally. They whip girls for wearing trousers and cane them for driving. People all over the world see these barbaric acts. At one time, there was barbarity all over the world, but such behaviour has been made illegal by the establishment of laws in almost all countries.

Whether someone admits it or not, it is true that the number of Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists has increased critically in the last two decades. Large and small groups like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hezbollah, and ISIS have been formed. They are dreaming of turning the entire world into a “caliphate,” where only Muslims will live, no one else.

According to a report by Pew Research Centre, most of the Muslims of the world want Sharia law. Today, a sense of disgust has been created about Islam around the world. Hatred has been cultivated towards Muslims. Non-Muslims in many countries express their lack of interest in becoming friends with Muslims, giving them jobs, and maintaining professional and social relationships with them. A dreadful distrust has been developed towards Muslims.

But human rights laws in the West are so strong that Muslims can live their lives as they wish. No country has plans to drive them away by beating and killing them. The West stops racism in their countries on their own.

Democracy becomes pointless if people lose their right to express their opinions or freedom of speech. If we try to change society, various feelings of various people get hurt. A society cannot be changed if we want to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. People’s religious sentiments get hurt even when you try to separate state from religion or get rid of laws against women.

Too many good deeds haven’t been done till now without hurting religious sentiments. When the clerical rule in Europe was stopped, the religious sentiments of numerous people were hurt too. The discoveries of Galileo and Darwin hurt people’s religious sentiments as well. Scientific advancements hurt the religious sentiments of superstitious people.

But if we stop expressing our opinions, ban scientific discoveries and usage, and stop the progression of civilisation in the fear that it’ll hurt them, then the society will be left as a puddle of water, it will never turn into a spontaneously-flowing stream. Many say that since the majority of the people of the country are Muslims, Latif Siddique should have talked sensibly, keeping that in mind.

If one has to say what other people want to hear, then there is no need for freedom of speech or one’s right to express opinions. Freedom of speech is for those whose opinions don’t correspond with the opinions of most others. Freedom of speech is saying what you don’t want to hear. Those whose opinions don’t hurt anyone’s feelings don’t need freedom of speech. When the government takes the side of people who are against freedom of speech, it brings about the ruin of its own country.

Nowadays, religious extremists are doing very good business by exploiting people’s religious sentiments. They have always profited from this business in Bangladesh. Every time they scream on the streets demanding someone’s execution for religious dissent and start burning public property, the government takes their side and starts oppressing the people who hold different opinions. This strengthens the power of religious exploiters a hundredfold, and takes the country back 100 years.

The government did exactly the same thing in my case. The friendship between the government and extremists has forever remained the same. Back then, if the Khaleda-led government had punished the Muslim radicals instead of taking their side, they wouldn’t be so powerful now. I could have stayed in my own country as well. There would have been freedom of speech in the country.

It’s not only the Muslim fundamentalists, even the government has deprived free-thinkers of their democratic rights for their own insignificant interests. If Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had not dismissed Latif Siddique from his ministerial post, then he could have returned to the country. The storm would have died down eventually.

The clever religious exploiters would have understood that the politics of religious sentiments would not work in this government’s tenure. The expulsion of Latif Siddique only added fuel to the fire of Muslim fundamentalists. This will strengthen their evil forces a hundredfold. The country will again move backwards a hundredfold.

Various details about Latif Siddique are being disclosed these days. Apparently, he was a horrible person. When the government goes against someone, the number of his friends goes down to zero. My situation was the same. I had to leave the country. My friends vanished. Limitless rumours were spread about me.

Latif Siddique probably did many horrible things. I am not saying that he is a very good person. All I am saying is that he has the right to express his own opinions. Just as I support Latif Siddique’s right to express himself, I similarly respect the rights of his opposers to share their opinions at an equal measure.

If you don’t like his opinion, write and talk against his views and use logic to refute his arguments. But declaring a bounty on his head, physically attacking him, talking about hanging, executing, killing, and beheading him – I am against these barbaric threats.