On February 26, 2020 it will be five years since Avijit Roy was killed brutally by Islamist extremists as he was making his way back from the Dhaka Book Fair. During these five years, Bangladesh has been passing through a nightmare; a nightmare from which it is not likely to be released in the near future. The online free thinking movement, that was initiated by Avijit Roy, has been shrinking due to various governmental and societal pressures. Legal actions are being taken by the government against anybody who would question blind faith, even the traditional spiritual nonsectarian humanism that was practiced in Bengal since ancient times is slowly being crushed. Here we remember what Tagore wrote: The truth is ruthless, yet I fell in love with the ruthlessness. Humankind has chosen the path of truth, that path is ruthless. On this day, we remember the sacrifice that Avijit and his other fallen kindred spirits made to pave a rational path of humanism and logic.
It is another sad day for humanity. The editorial board of Muktomona condemns the mindless killing of innocent people, Christian or otherwise, in Sri Lanka. We also say the remedy of religious fanaticism is not more religion, especially not the institutional religion, but rather the remedy is the creation of open minds that accept various ways of living that do not harm each other. Let parents allow their children to grow up in an open environment so that they can choose their own path based on knowledge, logic and humanity. Spirituality does not come from blind faith; it comes from in-depth understanding of this universe.
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.
Yesterday, there was an attempt on the life of Professor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal who is a leading intellectual in Bangladesh, . The assassin was standing behind Prof. Iqbal when he was overseeing a robotics meet at Sylhet's Shah Jalal Engineering and Technology University. The attacker managed to stab him in the head with a dagger. Prof. Iqbal was transported by a military helicopter to a Dhaka hospital. Luckily, the wounds were not life threatening and currently, he is in stable condition.
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 Freedom Book Fair, 21 - 25 February 2018, is a five-day event centred on freedom of expression and is much more than just a book fair. There will be various activities over the course of the five days, such as book presentations, cultural evenings, movie screenings and panel discussions. The Book Fair is a place where writers, journalists, human right activists, artists and civilians from all over the world can discuss, connect, debate, initiate a dialogue, celebrate their work and raise awareness for their cause. This year the Book Fair will have contributions from the following countries: Sudan, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Turkey, Bangladesh and African Great Lakes Region (Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda).
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.