Tuesday, May 13, 2014

6 Horrors of Being an Atheist in a Fundamentalist Country

Interesting look at real life for an athiest in Bangladesh.


6 Horrors of Being an Atheist in a Fundamentalist Country

By Robert Evans May 06, 2014    

"Turncoat" Jo is an atheist from a country where that kind of shit can land your unbelieving ass in prison. He's been shot by religious extremists and hunted down for the unspeakable crime of writing a blog, and he's alive today only because he fled the hell out of Bangladesh on a student visa. Cracked sat down with Jo to hear about life in the shadow of religious extremism and to find out what it's like to have a dude straight up shoot you in the street. Here's what we learned:

#6. If You're a Non-Believer, They Will Find You

When I was 8 years old, I saw a pigeon poop on a Quran while we were outside doing an Islamic studies class. I showed the book to my grandma, who decided the pigeons were possessed and needed to be executed. So, some men got together and murdered all those pigeons in the name of God. We didn't know which bird actually did the pooping, so they had to kill all of them. So, you know. Just to give you an idea.

In theory, things have gotten better since then -- the supreme court of Bangladesh upheld religious freedom in 2010. But it's also a country that is nearly 90 percent Muslim, and Islamic studies courses are very much mandatory. (Strangely, we were taught evolution in school, from sixth grade biology on. So there's that, I guess.)

I had come out as an atheist to some friends before the laws changed, but I kept that fact secret because did you read that thing about the pigeons? But being a teenager, what I couldn't avoid was getting into an argument with my teacher. It didn't take long for one of my classmates to blab that I was a non-believer. That was the beginning of a sequence of events that would lead to the whole "getting shot and fleeing the country" thing a few years down the line.

But at the time, I just had to settle for a good beating. Teachers could cane the shit out of students in Bangladesh until 2010, and he did just that, for like 15 minutes straight. And that wasn't the end of it. We got death threats. I have a little brother, and someone sent a letter to my dad saying they knew when he got off from school and they'd be coming after him for the crime of being related to me. My dad had to hire bodyguards for three months. And I felt terrible, because this was all my fault.

And if you think that classmate of mine was a jerk for ratting me out, you have to understand ...

#5. Everyone Forces Fundamentalism on Each Other

Article continues HERE.