Murder Is the Only Blasphemy

by | March 30, 2015

Today, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) announced: “Another Atheist Blogger Murdered in Bangladesh This Morning”:

Washiqur Rahman’s Facebook banner declares “#IamAvijit”, after the leading secular and humanist blogger, Avijit Roy, who was murdered a month ago in Bangladesh.

This morning Washiqur Rahman himself was killed in similar circumstances: a machete attack by assailants on the streets of Dhaka. The brutal attack took place close to Rahman’s home. Police have reportedly taken two men into custody who were detained at the scene.

Bob Churchill, IHEU’s Director of Communications comments:

“We are deeply saddened that yet another rationalist voice has been so brutally silenced in this vile backlash against atheist bloggers. Our thoughts are with Washiqur’s family and we stand in solidarity with the many individual thinkers and writers from Bangladesh who exercise their right to discuss religion — Islam in particular — frankly and critically. This is a human right, freedom of expression, and it should be respected and protected in Bangladesh, as it should be respected and protected everywhere.”

Oxford Dictionaries (UK) online defines blasphemy as

The action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.

It is time to revise that definition so it reflects the real crime: murder – the heinous act of murdering a person or people for speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things or uttering profane talk. In addition, it is crucial that blasphemy laws are removed from the laws and criminal codes in every country where they exist. Let’s not give religious fanatics a excuse for thinking that attacking or murdering a human being is religiously justified or legally sanctioned.

As we mourn Washiqur Rahman, we should reflect on the message in a hashtag Rahman used: #WordsCannotBeKilled and loudly campaign against the injustice that while words cannot be killed, people are brutally attacked and killed for writing words.


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