Md. Sazzadul Hoque is an exiled Bangladeshi secularist blogger, human rights activist, and atheist activist. His writing covers a wide range of issues, including religious superstition, critical thinking, feminism, gender equality, homosexuality, and female empowerment.
He’s protested against blogger killings and past/present atrocities against Bangladeshi minorities by the dominant Muslim political establishment. He’s also written about government-sponsored abductions and the squashing of free speech; the systematic corruption in everyday life of Bangladeshis; and the denial of the pursuit of happiness.
In 2017, after receiving numerous threats, he was forced to leave Bangladesh out of safety concerns. Here we talk to about the new Council.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Why found the Council of Ex-Muslims of Bangladesh?
Md. Sazzadul Hoque: Every country needs a regional representation of such group, particularly due to the language barrier, contemporary ideas are written and expressed in a different language, thus requires a platform to share ideas, these platforms are vital for cross-cultural communication.
Where people from Bangladesh can have a platform, from which they can share ideas and contribute their own. From where people from Bangladesh can collectively empathize with the collective conscience of the Ex-Muslim world.
Jacobsen: Obviously, this is one of the more dangerous areas of the world. What additional risks come with ex-Muslims in Bangladesh compared to other places in the world?
Hoque: Being an Ex-Muslim poses an inherent danger regardless of location, however, Bangladesh being 93%+ Muslim that is nearly 167 million Muslims, particularly uneducated backward Muslims pose a special danger if found out as an apostate. The Bangladesh political system is engrained with Islamic politics.
Although the constitution states, secular, it also states “Bismillahi rahmani rahim” (in the name of Allah we begin); Bangladesh has Pro-Islamic laws that only patronizes the Muslims and selectively suppresses the minorities using such laws including the new minority that includes ex-Muslim, and non-believers from other faiths.
Jacobsen: What is the mission and mandate of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Bangladesh?
Hoque: Our mission to have a platform where we are able to collectively express our views or feelings, most importantly a place where ex-Muslims can safely empathize with one another.
A place where we are able to tell the world how we are brutalized by this hate mongering repressive regressive faith that subjugates. Our platform is to convey support to those who are in dire need of psychological support and much other support that we may be able to offer as we grow stronger in the future.
Jacobsen: What are its targeted objectives or goals for the next couple years?
Hoque: Our intent is to create an information hub from where people can get information and contribute and create social awareness. Particularly about feminism, humanism, civil liberty, civil rights, freedom of expression, free will, and how these are violated by this regressive system.
We would like to have a platform from where we can render support to people in need, such as technical support, mental support, and letting them know that they are not the only one. There are others like them and we are here to listen to your story.
Jacobsen: How can individuals support the Council of Ex-Muslims of Bangladesh?
Hoque: Individuals from Bangladesh and abroad can contribute with their ideas in their own respective language (i.e., Bangla or in English) to elevate people’s awareness, new ideas to support council of ex-Muslim of Bangladesh is always welcome.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Sazza.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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Image Credit: Md. Sazzadul Hoque.