There may be a long-term global trend toward humanism, but in some regions of the world, we are witnessing a reverse trend, with an alarming rise of religious and nationalist fundamentalist groups. India and Bangladesh are one theatre of a backlash of violence and discrimination against the rationalist and atheist community.
These are countries with long-term secularist and rationalist trends, and secular parties or constitutional secularism, making the backslide into oppression even more alarming and of global significance. Since 2014, humanist and secularist activists have been threatened, attacked or murdered by extremist religious groups in both countries. Radicals or nationalists and the state itself have tried to silence humanist voices, with some forced to live in hiding or to flee the country.
Join us on 24 April at Conway Hall to discuss the rise of Islamist and Hindutva fundamentalism in Bangladesh and India respectively, with a panel of renowned humanist leaders.
● Salil Tripathi was born in Bombay, India. He is contributing editor at Mint and Caravan in India, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, and author of books like Offence: The Hindu Case and The Colonel Who Would Not Repent.
● Bonya Ahmed, Bangladeshi-American author, humanist activist and blogger who in 2015 survived a machete-wielding attack by Islamic extremists in which his husband, Avijit Roy, lost his life. Currently, she is visiting fellow at LSE human rights centre.
● Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International, Chief Executive of Humanists Uk and author of Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom, to chair the discussion.