Bangladesh blogs blacked out on arrests of atheists

By AFP
Published: April 4, 2013

There has been vociferous debate between staunch atheists and fundamentalists in Bangladesh's social media for years. PHOTO: FILE

DHAKA: Operators of top Bangladeshi blogs said Thursday they had blacked out their sites to protest against a government crackdown on atheist bloggers in the face of pressure from radicals.

The move by eight sites comes after the arrests of four online writers this week on charges of hurting religious sentiment through their Internet writings against Islam.

Their secular supporters have blasted the crackdown, accusing the government of kowtowing to Islamic groups who are planning a march on Saturday towards the capital Dhaka to demand a blasphemy law and the hanging of anti-Islam bloggers.

“Bangla Blogosphere begins blackout in protest against harassing and cracking down on bloggers,” reads a notice on the home pages of the protesting sites. All of them were inaccessible from noon on Thursday.

Home minister Muhiuddin Khan on Wednesday said the government had identified 11 bloggers, including the four detainees, who had hurt the religious sentiments of the nation’s majority Muslim population.

There has been vociferous debate between staunch atheists and fundamentalists in Bangladesh’s social media for years, but it took a deadly turn in February when an anti-Islam blogger was murdered.

Both secular and Islamic protesters have taken to the streets over the war crimes trials of leaders of the Islamic Jamaat-e-Islami party in cases related to the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.

The government has blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem the unrest. It has also set up a panel, which includes intelligence chiefs, to monitor blasphemy on social media.

Under the country’s cyber laws, a blogger or Internet writer can face up to ten years in jail for defaming a religion.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Antiatheist
    Apr 4, 2013 - 7:49PM

    I am in favor of the arrest as Atheists should have no right to live in the society and should be hanged to death. ET one question to you. Why do you portray such news as if there has something wrong happened?

    What is it that irritates you when any atheist is arrested or tortured. Why ET Why?

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  • 1984
    Apr 4, 2013 - 9:00PM

    Even the ET Mods are afraid to publish the comments of atheists….

    We’ve been persecuted for centuries and noone even acknowledges us….

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  • Mj
    Apr 4, 2013 - 11:38PM

    @Antiatheist:

    What have atheists ever done to you to warrant such hostility?

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  • Mj
    Apr 4, 2013 - 11:39PM

    @Antiatheist:

    You hold opinions like these an then wonder why people from around the world view you with disdain and your faith with fear.

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  • Ameican Desi
    Apr 5, 2013 - 4:36AM

    @Antiatheist: In my opinion, intolerant religious radicals should be packed together and contained in a territory from where they cannot get out and spill their hatred to otherwise peaceful common people.
    The way I see is that religiously bent people are more afraid of loosing their debate on faith hence they like laws like blasphemy and law against “hurting religious sentiments” so they can prevent their wild side getting loose.
    This violent attitude of religious psychopaths is proof that they are most insecure intolerant people who cannot even justify their own belief and are afraid to loose their debate with atheist or liberals.

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  • 1984
    Apr 5, 2013 - 5:14AM

    Still cant understand why ET censors my comments when I talk about atheism…..

    If you allow one way traffic from people like @Antiatheist and refuse to give us the right to express ourselves as it has been happening for several centuries….When will we defend why we became atheists on the first place???

    We’re not Satan worshippers or Iluminati,just normal people who want to live peacefully without the religion shoved in our throats

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  • expaki
    Apr 5, 2013 - 11:18AM

    @1984: ET censors comments, they simply love BUTTERING. Do that then you will see your comments back, in BOLD letters.

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  • I am a Khan
    Apr 5, 2013 - 1:38PM

    “Under the country’s cyber laws, a blogger or Internet writer can face up to ten years in jail for defaming a religion.”

    So what is stopping the courts from handing each of these vindictive bloggers a minimum term of 10 years jail?? They have broken the law of the country and deserve punishment…plain and simple.

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