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Uphold Freedom of Expression: Stop the Targeted Killings of Minorities

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We, the undersigned, are concerned individuals and organizations primarily from Muslim-majority societies. We write to express our deep concern regarding the escalating violence perpetrated in the name of Islam in Muslim-majority societies, particularly against people who think, express, identify or believe differently outside of orthodox Islamic doctrines.

Every day, thousands of thinkers, public intellectuals, human rights activists and other groups of people live under the constant terror of targeted killings committed in the name of religious morality and justice. Violence, including these recent and reported murders are justified as retribution for the “crime” of challenging particular Islamic ideologies. This “everyday terrorism” is a form of violence which is invisible but present in everyday life - it is this violence that suppresses the diversity of thoughts and opinions, and effectively halts societal progress - all in the name of enforcing a dogmatic version of Islam.

The situation in Bangladesh right now is one obvious example. There has been a string of violence against minority groups in the country, such as the minority sects of Ahmadiyya and Sufism, non-believers including atheists and agnostics, secularists, and the LGBT community.

Recently an elderly Buddhist monk, Mongsowe U Chak, was hacked to death in a temple in Baishari. Prior to this, a Sufi pir (spiritual leader) Mohammad Shahidullah was found dead in a mango orchard in Tanore. These incidents follow the murders of Xulhaz Mannan, an LGBT activist, Rezaul Karim Siddique, an English professor, and an atheist blogger, Nazimuddin Samad. In most of these attacks, victims were hacked to death with machetes, and in some cases beheaded brutally. Meanwhile, some Shia Muslim mosques and shrines have been attacked.

Although both ISIS and Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for these massacres, the Bangladeshi government vehemently denies these claims.

We observe the same modus operandi in other Muslim-majority societies including Yemen, where 17-year-old teenager, Omar Mohammad, was abducted and murdered after being accused of apostasy, and in Pakistan, where anti-Islamist critic, Khurram Zaki, was killed. It is important to note that these targeted killings are not new and have indeed been going on for many years now. In 2013 for example, blogger and secular activist Ahmed Rajib Haider was hacked to death in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

People of conscience – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – need to break the silence against such violent ideologies. Disagreements and differences in ideology should be met with open, earnest dialogue, not with intolerance and horrific violence. Any incitement to hatred and violence – towards critical and free thinkers, towards atheists and secularists, towards people of faith who are a minority in their respective societies, towards the LGBT people, etc. – must be condemned without reservation by all members of society.

We therefore call upon everyone to stand with Muslim reformists and progressive religious thinkers, who are working for change from within the faith, and to lend your support to civil society organizations which are creating spaces and giving platforms to marginalised voices.

It is our greatest hope that we see an end to these carnage and murders that are plaguing Muslim-majority societies. In addition, we would like to see greater dedication and organized efforts from the relevant governments to uphold and protect the basic human rights of all, and to prevent such violent incidents from ever happening again.

Update (May 21, 2016): A village doctor, Sanaur Rahman was hacked to death while his friend, Saif uz Zaman, a university teacher, was seriously injured in Kushtia, Bangladesh for voicing out their progressive and secular views.

Update (May 25, 2016): Transgender activist, Alesha was shot in Peshawar, Pakistan. She succumbed to her injuries after being denied a proper and timely treatment, due to discrimination against her gender identity (she was initially placed in the male ward, and later denied access to the Intensive Care Unit). Trans Action, the organization she was part of, claims that a criminal gang that extorts money from transgender communities was responsible for the attack.

SAVE (Stop All Violence against freedom of Expression) Coalition

Endorsing organizations:

  1. Agnostic Muslims and Friends
  2. Coexist (Tunisia)
  3. Council of Ex-Muslims of Singapore
  4. Friends of Malaysia - Civil Liberties
  5. Global Secular Humanist Movement
  6. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
  7. Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU)
  8. Malaysian Humanist and Rationalist Movement
  9. Muslims for Progressive Values
  10. Sahabat Rakyat (人民之友)
  11. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  12. TENAGANITA Women’s Force

Endorsing individuals:

  1. Abdul Rauf (Malaysia)
  2. Adam Sharizman (Malaysia)
  3. Adrian Pereira (Malaysia)
  4. Ahmad Salami (Malaysia)
  5. Aidi Johari (Malaysia)
  6. Aishah Roose (Malaysia)
  7. Ariz Ansari (Singapore)
  8. Azamuddin Rosli (Malaysia)
  9. Benji Wong (Australia)
  10. Calvin Ohsey (Malaysia)
  11. Catherine Paul (USA)
  12. Daniele Speziale (Italy)
  13. Deon Daffodil (Malaysia)
  14. Dorian Wilde (Malaysia)
  15. Dr. Adis Duderija (Australia)
  16. Dr. Angela M. Kuga Thas (Malaysia)
  17. Dr. Ariffin Omar (Malaysia)
  18. Dr. Derek Ong (Malaysia)
  19. Dr. Jan Bart (United Kingdom)
  20. Dr. Lyana Khairuddin (Malaysia)
  21. Dr. Wong Chin Huat (Malaysia)
  22. Faisal Saeed Al Mutar (Iraq)
  23. Farah Bakri (Malaysia)
  24. Faris Saad (Malaysia)
  25. Ging Cristobal (Philippines)
  26. Hafiz Law (Malaysia)
  27. Hajira Sher (Afghanistan)
  28. Hassan Radwan (UK)
  29. Henry Koh (Malaysia)
  30. Ikmal Rozlan (Malaysia)
  31. Jack Williams (UK)
  32. Jamilah Lim (Malaysia)
  33. Jellene Khoh (Finland)
  34. Jeremy Kwan (Malaysia)
  35. Julia Sveshnikova (Russia)
  36. Kamal Kulshreshth (India)
  37. Kelly Wentworth (USA)
  38. Khairul Rezza (Malaysia)
  39. Kok Sen Wai (Malaysia)
  40. Kristina Ling (Malaysia)
  41. Liew Liang Hong (Malaysia)
  42. Masjaliza Hamzah (Malaysia)
  43. Melissa Chen (Cambridge, MA, USA)
  44. Mimie Rahman (Malaysia)
  45. Mohani Niza (Malaysia)
  46. Muhammad Afiq (Malaysia)
  47. Muhammad Faisal Bin Yaafar (Malaysia)
  48. Muhammad Firdaus Romli (Malaysia)
  49. Nabila Habib (Malaysia)
  50. Nadia Habib (Malaysia)
  51. Natasha A. Krishnan (Malaysia)
  52. Navin Nathaniel Innasi (Malaysia)
  53. Nazreen Nizam (Malaysia)
  54. Nica Dumlao (Philippines)
  55. Noor Hamiezah (Malaysia)
  56. Nur Hakeem (Singapore)
  57. Pang Khee Teik (Malaysia)
  58. Pepper Lim (Malaysia)
  59. Rama Ramanathan (Malaysia)
  60. Raymond Chew (Malaysia)
  61. Rev. Dr. Ngeo Boon Lin (Malaysia)
  62. Rey Buono (Malaysia)
  63. Rishabh Raj (New Delhi, India)
  64. Riz Rashid (Singapore)
  65. Rizal Ramli (Malaysia)
  66. Rose Ismail (Malaysia)
  67. Ruzita Khalid (Malaysia)
  68. Ryan Silverio (Philippines)
  69. Saif Almazide (Iraq)
  70. Shafiqah Othman (Malaysia)
  71. Shahi Esfelazi (Malaysia)
  72. Sheena Baharudin (Malaysia)
  73. Shuhaib Ar Rumy (Malaysia)
  74. Simi Rahman (USA)
  75. Siti Kasim (Malaysia)
  76. Sohail Ahmed (London, UK)
  77. Suri Kempe (Malaysia)
  78. Syahmie Fayyadh (Malaysia)
  79. Tahir Rawther (Malaysia)
  80. Tanuj Patmanathan Mahesan (Malaysia)
  81. Tanuja Appukuttan (Malaysia)
  82. Teoh Han Hui (Malaysia)
  83. Thilaga (Malaysia)
  84. Thomas Fann (Malaysia)
  85. Vida Rasoolzadegan (USA)
  86. Wirot Suwanmanie (Malaysia)
  87. Writinkar
  88. Yuenmei Wong (Malaysia)

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