India has recently amended its Citizenship Act of 1955 to include clauses whereby Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India illegally on or before the 31st of December, 2014, will not be treated as illegal immigrants; and they will be entitled to be citizens of India.
"What does the Arundhati Roy imbroglio say about our democratic freedoms?"
Avijit Roy (1971-2015) was a voice of reason in an age when people boast of their ignorance and lies are claimed as alternatives to universal truths. A software engineer by profession and a writer by avocation, Avijit Roy was a leading Bangladeshi-American human rights activist, author and a pioneer in Bengali free-thought movement.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce, on the third anniversary of the assassination of Avijit Roy, the creation of an annual award in his name. Roy, the Bangladesh-American writer and atheist, died at the hands of militant Islamists on the streets of Dhaka.
The natural gift has made us capable of asking questions and attempt to provide answers to their unending questions. Many say that as humans, we are the superior species of all species on earth, and thus, we are free to think, gather new knowledge, innovate, and create new things by virtue of our brain's ability and power. But religions block our freethinking and suggest not thinking beyond holy books but believing them blindly. Is this right? Is this fair? Is this good for human development? Is this human value and dignity? Is this humanity? I think not. Someone said, "Belief is a potent drug that destroys the thinking abilities of the believers." The fact is, once believers become simply believers of their religion, they justify everything, including lies. Generally, people with strong faith yet who are usually decent and ethical, willingly lie to support their faith without any evidence or knowledge of the truth. The end, truth or not, known or unknown, justifies the means. People get their brain from birth, and it is their birthright to think freely and to question anything that comes from the brain, including the text of holy books. But religions teach us not to think but to believe. If you do not teach your children to think, religions will teach them not to think but to believe. Remember, it is easy to believe than to think. I experienced this in my entire life, meeting with people of different religious affiliations closely and intimately. Nonetheless, religious faith is very strong in human minds; it does not die out from the brain, and it will not until human beings can overcome the fear of being insecure in the harsh and ruthless nature, the fear of death, and the fear of unknown and uncertainty.
This year's Hedenius Prize is awarded to Shamima Aktar for her work for women's rights and integration, as well as as representative of secular bloggers and activists forced to fly to Sweden from Bangladesh.
The notion of freedom changes with time and space. At this moment, our species is standing at a crossroad of history, where individual liberty, freedom of expression, conscience, and belief have become a very important part of our existence. We are demanding equal rights regardless of sex, gender, class, race - you name it. We, the secular community, are demanding freedom for all, which is the greatest demand of our time.
Early steps towards a theocracy: Changes in the Constitution of Bangladesh
In the west, the discourse on Islam has been greatly shaped by contentious debates on the role of the state. The germination of radical ideas among the European-Muslim millennials and recent terrorist attacks across Europe has bolstered the edifice of the populist right-wing ideas, and there is a rising trend in the popularity of the far-right political parties who promulgate such ideas. The current scenario in the Western world is pretty much an evocative picture of the pre-Second World War political turmoil. The shadow of a disintegrated European Union looms on the horizon. Across the Atlantic, Donald Trump rose to power hurling disparaging remarks towards Muslims while promising a Muslim ban and extreme vetting of the Muslim immigrants. In these altercations, the culturalists and the reformists, the two different schools of thought gained prominence offering very different connotations of the Islamic pedigrees and culture in their attempt to dispense with the problem of "Radical Islam."