Md. Sazzadul Hoque is an exiled Bangladeshi secularist blogger, human rights activist, and atheist activist. His writing covers a wide range of issues, including religious superstition, critical thinking, feminism, gender equality, homosexuality, and female empowerment. He’s protested against blogger killings and past/present atrocities against Bangladeshi minorities by the dominant Muslim political establishment. He’s also written about government-sponsored abductions and the squashing of free speech; the systematic corruption in everyday life of Bangladeshis; and the denial of the pursuit of happiness.
In 2017, after receiving numerous threats, he was forced to leave Bangladesh out of safety concerns.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We can see the development of ex-Muslim councils around the world. Council of Ex-Muslims of Bangladesh is a new one. Why found one amongst the most dangerous regions, and countries, for ex-Muslims?
Md. Sazzadul Hoque: We do things not because it is easy, but because it is hard (JFK). either we confront the evil now or later, regardless the cost is high relative to the time when it is fought. We must live free or die trying. We must stir and start the process of contradiction in the subjugated mind of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the ground zero to kill this evil. Historically Bangladesh was Shanatan then Buddhist then turned to Shanatan (Hindu) then to Muslim. If we can change Bangladesh, it will change the surrounding country. Majority of Bangladesh population is growing population, if we can have the right kind of message to these people, they will bring about the change Bangladesh had seen historically. If Bangladeshi changes India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iran will follow. Just these mentioned countries combined over a billion people.
Jacobsen: How does this council provide a beacon of light in a shroud of some fundamentalist darkness there?
Hoque: Information is power, information is the gateway to freedom, this council will with the help of the right kind of people have the right kind of information to change minds. We as Bengali are not new to this fundamentalism. We must have a platform where people can draw their inspiration seeing other Ex-Muslim in such platform.
Jacobsen: What are volunteer opportunities through the Council of Ex-Muslims of Bangladesh?
Hoque: There many people out there, but there is not a single unified platform from where people can collectively work together. People are working from their point of view and position, to my understanding it is time to act collaborate with Bangladesh and internationally.
Jacobsen: How can ex-Muslims protect themselves?
Hoque: The majority of these people are in hiding, to protect them self-one should write under a pen name in both internet and while publishing on paper, however they must take serious consideration to preserve their identity. If they are using the internet, they may use VPN service to mask their IP address.
Jacobsen: What will be the goals for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Bangladesh in 2019/2020 as it is starting up?
Hoque: The activity of 2019/2020 is to inform people such a platform exists, and we are here to stay.
Our mission to have a platform where we are able to collectively express our views or feelings, most importantly a place where ex-Muslim can safely empathize with one another, a place where we are able to tell the world how we are brutalized by this hate mongering repressive regressive faith that subjugate. Our platform is to convey support to those who are in dire need of psychological support and many other supports that we may be able to offer as we grow stronger in the future.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Sazza.