The US should extend immediate asylum to these bloggers, but then again, Obama said “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
"Bangladesh arrests three atheist bloggers" The Express Tribune, April 2, 2013, (thanks to Lookmann)
DHAKA: Bangladesh police
have arrested three atheist bloggers for allegedly defaming Islam and
the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), police said Tuesday, amid calls from
religious fundamentalists for an Internet crackdown.
The arrest of the three, who were paraded in handcuffs at a news
conference, followed pressure from Islamic groups who have organised a
march from all over the country to the capital to demand the death
penalty for atheist bloggers.
“They have hurt the religious feelings of the people by writing
against different religions and their prophets and founders including
the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh),” said deputy commissioner of Dhaka police,
Molla Nazrul Islam.
The three could face 10 years in jail if convicted under the
country’s cyber laws which outlaw “defaming” a religion, Islam said.
He denied the arrests were linked to the planned march to Dhaka set for Saturday.
Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan said the three arrested men were among
84 “atheist bloggers” named in a list handed over by an Islamist group
to a government panel probing alleged blasphemy against Islam on the
“The arrests were made on primary information” and further
investigation is underway, Khan said, adding the government would act
toughly to prevent any attempt to upset “communal harmony” via the
There has been vociferous debate between staunch atheists and
fundamentalists in Bangladesh’s blogosphere and on social media for
years, but it took a deadly turn in February when an atheist blogger was
The arrests came as Bangladesh has been hit by violent protests over a
war crimes tribunal which is trying leading people who opposed the
country’s independence from Pakistan during the 1971 liberation war.
Protests encouraged by secular bloggers have seen hundreds of
thousands of people take to the streets demanding the execution of
leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, the country’s largest Islamic
party and key opposition.
Islamic groups have in turn held demonstrations demanding the trials be halted and have also begun targeting bloggers.
The government has blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem
the unrest. It also set up a panel, which included intelligence chiefs,
to snoop for blasphemy in the social media.
Last week the telecoms regulator ordered two sites to remove hundreds
of posts of seven bloggers whose writings it said offended Muslims.
Meanwhile, a group of bloggers protested the overnight arrests of the
three men and said their detention meant the government is caving in to
pressure from Islamic groups.
“We demand their release. The future of Bangladesh is bleak if the
freedom expression of the bloggers is curbed,” Fahmidul Haq, a blogger
and Dhaka University professor, said at a news conference.
Haq said the lives of the 84 bloggers who were named in the list prepared by Islamic groups now were at risk.
Scores of bloggers held hands to form a human chain in Dhaka to
protest the arrests while a popular blog site, Amarblog.com, said it was
shutting down until the bloggers were freed “unconditionally”.
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