An international consortium of nonbelievers is planning rallies Thursday (April 25) outside Bangladeshi embassies and consulates to demand the release of several Bangladeshi bloggers who were arrested on charges of blasphemy.
The rallies are in support of four Bangladeshi men arrested earlier this month for “hurting religious sentiments,” a crime tied to an 1860 law that can carry up to 10 years in jail.
The four men — all bloggers — staged a sit-in at a public square demanding a ban on the country’s largest Islamic political party; Islam is the official state religion in Bangladesh.
Supporters of the party launched a march in response and demanded the arrest of the bloggers, who they termed atheists and anti-Islamic. The bloggers remain in custody, but denied that they are atheists, according to a CNN reporter at the scene.
The rallies are being organized by the Center for Inquiry, American Atheists and the International Humanist and Ethical Union. They will be held outside Bangladeshi institutions in New York, Washington, London; the Canadian cities of Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver; and in a public park in Columbia, Mo.