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skeptic list - Islamic fundamentalism vs free speech

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  • Eric Krieg
    Apparently third world countries have the most widespread ignorance and superstition and the fewest skeptics. I sometimes wonder if somehow promoting critical
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20, 1998
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      Apparently third world countries have the most widespread ignorance and
      superstition and the fewest skeptics. I sometimes wonder if somehow promoting
      critical thinking among them would do more long term good than sending food.

      I thought this may be of interest. We kind of take for granted that in this
      country you have the right to freely say "I think this particular religion is
      a load of . . . ". I haven't heard of anyone in this country subjected with
      anything more severe than ostracism for "blaspheming". Not so in the many
      countries with a death sentence for such expression of free speech. You can
      look at persecution of nonbelievers as a Meme. The meme, "kill those who
      don't believe the main meme" would unfairly make a cluster of memes propagate
      more easily.

      Message from SANAL EDAMARUKU
      Fri, 20 Nov 1998 15:52:37 -0500 (GMT)
      "Sakthy S. Edamaruku" <sakthy@...>
      Phactum <eric@...>

      Indian Rationalist Association
      P.O.Box 9110, New Delhi 110091, India.
      Telephone: 91-11-91539526
      Fax: 91-11-2256042
      E-mail: sakthy@...

      (For information/publication)

      In September 1998, the International Alliance against Fundamentalism
      launched a campaign in support of Taslima Nasreen. Back in Bangladesh
      Taslima was forced into hiding again, after fundamentalist groups
      reiterated their death threats against her. The Dhaka magistrate court
      issued a new arrest warrent in the old blasphemy case.The Alliance
      against Fundamentalism together with Indian Rationalist Association
      wrote a letter to Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh,
      calling upon her to personally ensure the safety of Taslima's life,
      to guarantee that her government would restrain from persecuting her
      and arrest those who offer rewards for killing her. The Indian and the
      international press reported about our demands.Many like-minded
      organisations and concerned individuals reacted immediately and
      followed our request to write letters in the same spirit.

      Facing international attention, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reacted on
      6 October with the first official statement after Taslima's return.
      Trying to find a "balanced position", she criticised Taslima as well as
      the Islamic extremists for "crossing the line". She said that the Islamic
      groups were overreacting, on the other hand freedom of speech did not mean
      the right to hurt one's religious sentiments. But she stated clearly, the
      government would not allow anyone to violate the law in response.
      Foreign minister Abdus Samad Azad confirmed that Taslima would be
      provided security which she is entitled to as a citizen of Bangladesh.
      But he insisted that she has to face the court.

      During demonstrations by fundamentalists asking for public
      execution of Taslima Nasreen, police used water canons and arrested
      twelve persons. But no case was filed against them.

      Last week one of the leaders of the fundamentalist party Jama-at-e-Islami
      has offered another reward of $ 2,500 for informing Taslima's whereabouts
      (earlier a reward of $ 5,000 was offered by fundamentalists for killing
      Taslima. The same day Taslima's petition that she may be granted bail
      in absentia because of the threat to her life, has been rejected by
      the magistrate court.

      Taslima is in very difficult situations. She wished to care for her
      ailing mother who is terminally ill with colon cancer. But she had to
      leave her parents alone in the new flat which she bought for them and
      keeps strictly in hiding. "These are my mother's last days, but I cannot
      see her", she said in a telephonic conversation from her hideaway.
      "I cannot go anywhere or meet anyone. I love this country. But my life
      here is something nobody would want".

      But Taslima does not lose her courage. Some days before she reacted
      powerfully on false news agency report that she has succumbed to the
      demand of the fundamentalists and agreed to apologise: "I will never
      bow to Islamic extremists", she said, "I will never be silenced. Nor
      shall I compromise my ideas and thoughts".

      Taslima Nasreen, meantime, has launched a $ 10,000 trust for girls'
      education in the name of her mother Eid ul-Ara. In a ceremony in
      her home town Mymensingh, ten selected school girls who are too poor
      to afford for the schooling have been awarded stipends of $ 105 each
      per year. The payments will continue till the girls finish their tenth
      standard. The funds for the trust have come from royalties which Taslima
      is receiving for her books. As a writer Taslima has shown all throughout
      that she has at her heart liberation of the oppressed women of her
      country from the shackles of religion and ignorance. Her decision to
      initiate concrete projects in support her cause has met with great
      public appreciation. For security reasons, Taslima was not able to
      participate herself in the function.


      If you are interested to get news bulletins from the INTERNATIONAL
      ALLIANCE AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM through E-mail, please enlist
      your address in our network. You may also write to us about
      religious extremism/fundamentalism and fights against it in your

      We would appreciate the following details.

      Your name:
      Whether you are associated with any organisation
      (name of the organisation):
      Whether you are associated with any journal/publication
      (name of the journal):
      A brief note on your activities:
      Other E-mail addresses you propose bullettins should be sent:



      Eric Krieg eric@... fax (215) 654-0651
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