5-1-2013By Christopher Plummer
A. Whitney Ellsworth Fellow
Earlier this month, police in Bangladesh arrested journalist Asif Mohiuddin, three other bloggers, and an editor for criticizing the government for its failure to protect religious minorities and for capitulating to the demands of extremist elements. Mohiuddin has long been a vocal critic of both the government and religious fundamentalists, often to the detriment of his own physical wellbeing.
Mohiuddin and the other bloggers ran afoul of Bangladesh’s blasphemy laws, which are but one method used to threaten freedom of the press and silence dissent in the public sphere. Officials say the arrests are only the first in an upcoming assault on “atheist bloggers.” If Mohiuddin’s writings are deemed defamatory to religion in court, he will receive up to ten years in prison.
This is not the first time Mohuiddin has been persecuted for his political views. Earlier this year he was attacked outside of his office and stabbed repeatedly in the neck and back and, in 2011, while attending a student demonstration, he was detained by security forces for 18 hours. Mohiuddin says the officials threatened him, telling him to cease writing and to stop posting social and political commentary on Facebook.
Human Rights First urges the Bangladeshi government to reform its blasphemy laws and to fully support freedom of the press.
This is part of a series of journalist profiles highlighting the plight of journalists at risk for World Press Freedom Day.