13:45 - 14:45
Freedom of Expression on Religion: The Center-point of Tension Between Radical Islamist Groups and Their Oppositions in Bangladesh

Short thesis

This presentation aims to identify the application of freedom of expression on religion as the core-point of tension between radical Islam and its philosophical, political and religious opponents through the current political and social events and real-life experience of the endangered bloggers and activists of Bangladesh.


The age-old tension between Secularists and Islamists repeatedly erupted during the foundation of all major historical milestone in the Indian Sub-continent, with which Bangladesh is intensely related. Be it the partition of India, or the foundation of Pakistan or the independence of Bangladesh, during every shift of political power, the core point of debate and contradiction remains same- the supremacy of Islam as a religion, which is merely used as a component of blame game in political yard and thus to silence the voice of any opposition that comes in its way.

The recent series of events since 2013, killing of the bloggers, continuous political tension between various political parties is only a sad repetition of history.   Alike the past, the massive Shahbag movement that started in February, 2013 by the secular activists is only a strong vent of the suppressed motif of secularists in the country.

Killing, oppression and torture on the side of secularists and anti-islamists is nothing new in Bangladesh. During the pre-liberation period and in the Liberation war of 1971, Bangladesh has seen the legalization of rape, murder and mass-murder in the excuse of saving Islam, which, to a large extent still exists in our political arena. Even the microscopic secular portion of Islamic movements could not avoid the ferocity of radical islamists alike the secularists.

Expression of anything that is not permitted as per the interpretation of the radical islamist group is considered as an act of enmity to Islam. The slightest contradiction with the political intention of the radical Islamist groups results bloodshed and gruesome victimization of the opposition-anyone who oppose the islamists view.

Not necessarily the negative opinion and argument on religion gets attacked all the time from the radical islamists. Any comment, argument, act or expression at any point can be considered as anti-islamic and thus answered through violence, sometimes with the permission and support of the state-mechanism.

As a journalist, blogger and secular activist for the last seven years, I can undoubtedly say from my own suffering and experience, that those who holds the secular view, or who oppose the totalitarian view of radical islam are more or less endangered by it. And every time, the excuse remains the same- the humiliation of Islam and its prophet or any teachings of Islam.

Thus I think that it is the freedom of expression and the right to freedom of expression that is the core point of contradiction between Islamists and their opposition- the secularists, atheists, humanists or anyone, which does not leave any choice rather than the “Us or Them” narrative.

In this presentation, I will try to explain and present the example from Bangladesh in favor of my argument. The killing of the atheist bloggers, secular activists, and the other murders by various Islamic groups, all of whom was killed for different purpose, but held responsible for only one- enmity with Islam.