Bangladeshi Blogger Seeks Refugee Status in Canada


There is a long history of discrimination against the irreligious. Perhaps it’s because they’re underrepresented in the media—often portrayed as confused ex-believers or even sinister agents trying to take away people’s faith—or perhaps it’s because the taboo against criticism of religion is still so prevalent, especially in deeply religious communities.

In the West, they’re often treated as outsiders—apostates who’ve abandoned their cultural heritage. In some places of the world, the threat is much more serious. In Bangladesh, for example, being an atheist can even be life threatening.

Targeted for being a secularist.

Monkia Mistry, a woman living in Montreal, Canada’s West Island says her husband, a secular Bangladeshi poet and essayist, cannot stay in his home country because his life is still in danger after an attack by religious extremists put him in the hospital.

Mistry says her husband, Tareq Rahim, was shot in the stomach and stabbed several times during a raid by religious extremists who targeted Rahim over his publically-expressed atheism.

“He’s in the hospital right now, he was going through several operations and hopefully he is out of danger,” Mistry told CBC’s Daybreak.

Thankfully, the attack wasn’t fatal. “He’s going to survive,” she said.

Fatal attacks on secular bloggers on the uptick in Bangladesh.

In this regard, Rahim is lucky. Earlier in 2015, another Bangladeshi blogger, himself an atheist, was hacked to death with machetes in an attack by Islamist radicals who condemned his blog, titled “Mukto-mona” (or “Freemind”), because it promoted secularism and criticized religious extremism.

As for Rahim, he was stabbed three times in the head and about ten times on his hands. The damage to his hands was particularly extensive—he may lose two of his fingers. The shot to the stomach, no doubt intended to finish him off, miraculously didn’t kill him.

Mistry says Rahim was attacked on October 31, during a high-profile crackdown on extremist religious groups in the country.

“They didn’t even talk, they just started stabbing,” she said.

Refugee status in Canada is a new hope for Tareq Rahim.

On Daybreak, Mistry said her husband was targeted for his personal beliefs, adding that he is lucky to have survived. She took things a step further, however, by offering a plea to the newly elected Trudeu administration.

Mistry hopes the Trudeau government will grant her husband refugee status. She says she cannot go to Bangladesh because it is unsafe. “I can’t be there with him and this is the time he needs me the most,” said Mistry. She’s been in contact with several visa attorneys, and says she only wants to be there to take care of her husband in his time of need.

As for Bangladesh’s secular blogging community, Mistry says the threat of violence has been ongoing. “They are open-minded writers and secular bloggers so you know they have been targeted for a very long time,” she said.

Bangladesh is a majority Muslim country. Religious violence has been so pervasive, the Council for Secular Humanism has called the situation an all-out crisis:

“Bangladeshi atheists and secularists are under attack from their government and Muslim extremists. In the last year, several leading Bangladeshi secularists have been murdered. In late 2014 and early 2015, four vocal professors, authors, and bloggers were killed by extremists by being hacked to death in public.”

The writer adds: “Though the country has a secular democracy, Islam is the official state religion and Muslim political parties play significant roles in crafting laws and influencing prosecutions.”

About Andrew

Hey Folks! Myself Andrew Emerson I'm from Houston. I'm a blogger and writer who writes about Technology, Arts & Design, Gadgets, Movies, and Gaming etc. Hope you join me in this journey and make it a lot of fun.

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