Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are notorious for their vicious anti-blasphemy laws and the vigilante behavior of its Muslim fanatics who attack and murder those of different religions and also non-believers and skeptics.
The latest outrage is the murder of a young Bangladeshi secular activist and blogger Nazimuddin Samad for the ‘crime’ of posting on Facebook a criticism if Islamism. Note that he was criticizing Islamism (the idea that Islamic principles should govern all aspects of life), and not Islam itself. He was on a hit list of 84 people that was sent to the government interior ministry, presumably demanding prosecution for their views, and his murder raises fears that the others on the list may be similarly targeted.
Protestors of the murder say that the government’s lack of action against those who in the past have murdered nonbelievers and those of other religions has resulted in these killers feeling that they have a sense of immunity.
In December of last year two people were sentenced to death in Bangladesh for the murder of an atheist blogger. The court also sentenced six other people to different prison terms, including a life sentence for one. Although I am opposed to the death penalty, I had hoped that taking strong action against these murderers would discourage future such acts.
But it looks it my hopes were premature and that Bangladesh has a long way to go before it provides true freedom of expression and religion.