Tasllima Nasrin is a woman without a country. Born in Bangladesh, she fled her native land in 1993 because religious fundamentalists threatened her, a physician who wrote about feminine oppression. Abused as a child, her work touches not only upon gender inequality, but also on freedom of thought and human rights abuses. She had published poetry and prose and 3 novels before her fourth, Lijja, which means “shame,” catapulted her into the public limelight and an atmosphere of danger. She fled to India but soon the threats followed. The Council of Islamic Soldiers put a bounty on her head because she advocates abolishing Sharia and Islamic religious law. As a consequences, she was attacked and thousands of Muslim faithful threatened to let loose thousands of poisonous snakes in the Indian capital unless she was executed. (Click)
Though Nasrin escaped to Sweden, al Qaeda was relentless in their pursuit. In 2015, with the help of the Center for Inquiry and a hefty donation from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, she came to the United States. (“FFRF donates $20K to relocated atheist author under fatwa,” Freethought Today, June/July 2015, pg. 3.) Without the help of free thinking communities, Nasrin might have been hacked to death on the streets of Bangladesh, as was her friend and fellow blogger, Avijit Roy.
The rise of religious persecution in the world should alarm us all. Today, there are 13 nations where a person can legally be put to death for failing to embrace the majority’s faith. Where it is not a crime, attacks against non-believers persist with impunity. Frankly, when piety gives way to cruelty, I suspect even God would weep.
Faith brings great comfort to many. I know this is true. But I would ask those with faith to contemplate the possibility that those of us without it are capable of kindness, love and compassion. And let me add this as food for thought. I know of no one without faith who advocates bludgeoning to death someone who is a believer, a truth to be reckoned with when we equate faith with morality.
(Originally posted 8/13/15)