By The Secular Mind

The grip the parties of God have on our nation seems to be clasping down with more ferocity every moment. It is no longer entirely safe to voice a secular opinion, lest one risks their personal well-being. We find ourselves in a precarious situation. It is no longer safe to criticise the religious fundamentalism that is making its way into the seats of power in Bangladesh. One of the high ideals of our very own constitution is secularism, yet the parties of faith have corrupted it with that horrible preamble. Our constitution is now a contradiction. Bangladesh has long been a society in which freedom of religion has been granted to every individual. That tolerant society seems to be slipping away between our fingers with each passing day.

The religious do not realise that the only way to guarantee freedom of religion and expression is by holding on to our secular values. Some might say that the preamble is just a symbol of a Muslim-majority nation. It must be pointed out that there are people of other faiths, and of no faith as well, who live in our nation. Symbols are powerful things, and we must eliminate the symbol of intolerance that is the current preamble to the Bangladeshi constitution. This should be done sooner rather than later. We must all signal our discontent at this symbol. For the longer we remain reticent, the easier it is for the state to be twisted into an oppressive regime of faith.

The clerics preach hatred, and this is not the first time. Citizens kill fellow citizens. This is what faith is responsible for. There are people who realise this; there are no doubts about that. But most of the people who realise this are afraid to say anything of it in public, in fear for their own safety. And this, my brothers and sisters, is what religious oppression is. This is what faith is responsible for. The murder of secular bloggers and journalists is just the beginning. The intolerance that religion fosters is eminent in these acts of barbarism.

It is a clear indication that the parties of faith are not willing to take up reasoned argument. They have resorted to violence. They always have; and they always will. They have resorted to butchering down independent minds. In response to our words they come after us with knives and machetes. They say that they feel offended. My brothers and sisters, I pose you this question: what should we feel then after they have slaughtered our own? Outrage! No less than this. But we do not go after them with violence. Civilised rhetoric has always been our strongest weapon against the barbaric parties of faith.

The government must not allow for crimes like these, incited by religious hatred, to go by unpunished. Religion cannot be used as a shield to protect these deranged lunatics from the punishment they deserve. Our nation is home to many secular minds, but these minds live in fear of being discovered and put in harm’s way. To live in such a condition is an insult to human dignity. We must not let oppression such as this be so easily pardoned. There are certainly many voices and pens willing to take up the fight to reclaim the secularity of our beloved nation. Let us hear these voices, let us read what you have to give us. Even if our views are expressed in anonymity, it is going to be the first step towards rectifying the situation. When enough voices are heard, change will happen. We must take solidarity in one another; for we will only prevail if we stand united.

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