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.
Humanity has progressed to a stage where equality is a barometer of civilization.
Hizb ut-Tahrir stands out from the myriad of pan-Islamic political organisations for its fundamentally consistent methodology, its neutral stance on the issue of sectarian conflicts in Islam and its explicit refusal to the use of violence. As a global Islamic movement, Tahrir seeks an intellectual revival across the Islamic world in its aim of establishing a unitary Islamic Caliphate. Reza Pankhurst's book, Hizb Ut-Tahrir: The Untold History of the Liberation Party provides an erudite account of the history of the liberation party which over the years has remained rather abstruse to comprehend. Based on personal interviews conducted across several countries, ardent studying of party documents and materials Pankhurst seeks to fill the void in understanding the implications of Tahrir's intellectual culture and its adopted methodologies in Tahrir's aim of establishing the Islamic Caliphate. Pankhurst book delivers a perception-shifting yet coherent narrative on an incredibly resilient political movement that continues to thrive withstanding tremendous state repressions across the globe.
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.
"It's a systematic prolonged campaign of hate, threats of violence, and division based on religious identity"
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.
Recently there has been a storm of protest in the social media against a question on a test for admission to Rajshahi University in Bangladesh. The participants in the protests are mostly Bangladeshis at home and abroad.
Avijit Roy(1972-2015) 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 passion Avijit Roy was a leading Bangladeshi-American human rights activist, author and a pioneer in Bengali free-thought movement.
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.