CFIC Implores the Canadian Government To Help Tareq Rahim

On October 31, 2015, religious fanatics in Bangladesh continued attacks on atheist and secularist bloggers.  In the attack, Faisal Abedin Deepan, Avijit Roy’s publisher, was murdered while three bloggers were brutally injured. One of those bloggers, Tareq Rahim, is married to a Canadian citizen.

Monika Mistry is a Canadian citizen who was in contact with CFIC on the day of her spouse’s brutal victimization by people who can only be considered faith-based terrorists.  During a heart-wrenching conversation full of desperate concern and worry, Monika Mistry told us about the couple’s May 30th, 2015 marriage in Bangladesh.  Mistry and Rahim are a mixed-faith marriage – one of the couple being Muslim and the other Hindu. Although here in Canada such mixes are honoured and respected for their ability to spread diversity and tolerance, it is a situation that is often looked down-upon by the community and families in Bangladesh.

With their marriage so recent, Mistry was reluctant to see Rahim remain in unstable and dangerous Bangladesh, but their plan was to make-do until they could complete Immigration Canada’s paperwork that would enable the couple to reunite in Canada.  Unfortunately the terrorists found Rahim first.t and m 4

Mistry has told CFIC, “I am so frightened for Tareq. I am most afraid that when he is released from hospital that there are people waiting in the street to attack him again.”  In the hospital, Tareq Rahim has a modicum of security. On the streets and even in his home, protection is not available.  We know from the murder of Avijit Roy and the brutal assault on Rafida Bonya Ahmed that police and thousands of people will stand by as machete-wielding fanatics kill a target.  We also know from the murder of Niloy Neel that attackers will enter a person’s home to carry out their threats.

The targeting of atheist and secularist intellectuals is a strategic campaign intended to push Bangladesh away from its secular foundation.  The international community has been aware of this targeting throughout the year, and indeed the pattern began in 1999.  We urge you to listen to Rafida Bonya Ahmed’s Voltaire Address (British Humanist Association) to begin to learn the history. Despite being aware of the danger to this vulnerable minority, international governments have not stepped forward with a plan of assistance.

One of CFIC’s Bangladeshi contacts has asked, “Is it so difficult for a country to accept these 40-50 endangered people?“ CFIC and our humanist, secularist and human rights-oriented colleagues pass that question on to the Canadian government.  Can Canada not find compassion for a minority targeted by religious terrorists – particularly those with Canadian connections.

Canada and CFIC are intimately connected with this case.  Rafida Bonya Ahmed is a Canadian-American-Bangladeshi citizen who worked in Ottawa for many years and continues to maintain many friendships and connections here; Tareq Rahim and Monika Mistry have hopes to make Canada a safe place for their inclusive and tolerant relationship. CFIC has a circle of friendships in the Bangladeshi and Bangladeshi-Canadian community that grows each month. Where better than Canada to provide help?

To join us in calling the Canadian government to help the victimized spouse of a Canadian citizen – and to help other politically and religiously targeted members of the Bangladeshi intellectual, secularist community, please see the bottom of this article for sample language to send to your newly elected Prime Minister and/or Members of Parliament.

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Sample Letter of Support


To the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

It has come to my attention that one of the victims of the October 31, 2015 attacks by faith-based terrorists in Dhaka, Bangladesh is the spouse of a Canadian citizen.  Mr. Tareq Rahim, an intellectual and blogger, was attacked for exercising what Canadians enjoy every day – the right to freedom of expression in an open, tolerant and secular society.

Tareq Rahim is married to Canadian citizen and resident, Monika Mistry; they have a mixed-faith marriage and had plans to enjoy their tolerant and diversity-inspired marriage here in Canada once they were able to complete Immigration Canada’s paperwork.  Unfortunately terrorists found Rahim first with an attempt to take his life.  I urge the Canadian government to assist Tareq Rahim and Monika Mistry to expedite this process and bring Tareq to Canada and his family to recover from this brutal attack.

I further ask you to answer the question put to CFI Canada by one of our Bangladeshi friends, “Is it really so hard for a country to provide protection for 40-50 people” targeted by known faith-based terrorists?  Is it really so hard to extend protection to intellectuals, secularists, humanists, atheists who have been strategically targeted to separate a country’s population from its secular foundations?

Prime Minister, let the first days of your new government include an act of compassion and concern for Canadians such as Monika Mistry whose greatest ambition is to enjoy Canada’s diversity, freedom and welcoming community.  Help us to reunite Tareq Rahim with his wife while he recovers from this brutal assault of faith-based terrorism.

Yours Truly,

Eric Adriaans

National Executive Director

CFI Canada



Catholic School Board Breaking the Law, Complaint Alleges

Centre for Inquiry (CFI) calls on the Ontario government to defund religious schools

TORONTO, ONTARIO — (March 11, 2014) – The Mississauga Catholic School Board is systematically denying students their constitutional right to form Gay Straight Alliances, in direct violation of Bill 13, Accepting Schools Act.

In a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, student Christopher Karas documents a coordinated effort by the Mississauga Catholic Board, directed by Catholic bishops, and executed by staff at École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Famille, to impede the formation and functioning of a group to support gay and lesbian students.

“I decided to start a group to combat homophobia at my school,” said Karas. “I couldn’t imagine that move would be the catalyst for a new round of homophobic bullying, this time from the administration.”

The school took 20 months to approve Karas’ request, then stipulated that the school principal or vice-principal uncharacteristically oversee all meetings, and now censors the group’s identity through a  ban on gay names and symbols.

“The Catholic school system’s report card is abysmal,” said Justin Trottier of the Centre for Inquiry (CFI). “Banning atheist books, suspending pro-life students and violating the constitutional rights of LGBTQ youth. Constant human right conflicts are inherent in a tax-payer funded religious school system. CFI is therefore calling on the Ontario government to finally defund Roman Catholic schools.”

Karas will organize “Dare to Stand Out,” a conference (May 5-9) hosted by Jer’s Vision, to train students across Ontario in how to launch GSAs. Despite intense student interest, there are zero GSAs in Catholic schools, which Karas plans to change.

His efforts are supported by the CFI, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Egale Canada, Queer Ontario and other pro-rights groups.

An exclusive interview with Karas has been posted online to Think Again! TV:

Ask the Religion Experts: Should we boycott the Sochi Olympics?

Here is the response from Kevin Smith, CFI’s Chair of the Board and acting National Executive Director.

Click here to see the contributions from the other members of the panel, and to add your comments.

The Olympic flame, lit in honour of the gods; the torch relay, sponsored by Coca-Cola and other mega-rich corporations, is making its way to Sochi.

The gods played an integral role in the Olympics’ genesis, and more than 2,500 years later, it’s discouraging to humanists that the myths of men and women continue to intrude in an event that should celebrate diversity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is participating in the same race as many third-world countries, where attacking homosexuality is all the rage; people motivated by goodwill for themselves rather than towards others.

American Christian evangelicals, their influence waning at home, have invaded god-fearing Uganda to spread the morals of their homophobic creator, one whose every command must be obeyed if they are to have eternal life. They have been victorious, although the punishment for being gay is merely life in prison and not, as some had prayed for, the death penalty.

Similarly, Putin, whose policies are failing at home, attempts to solidify his base by taking a page from the fundamentalists, cozying up to the corrupt Orthodox Church and finding a minority scapegoat. Instability requires provocation.

Some people have called for a boycott. However, the 1980 boycott did not shame the Russians from leaving Afghanistan, and it’s doubtful a boycott of the 1936 games would have stopped Hitler from slaughtering Jews and other minorities, including homosexuals.

For two weeks, these Olympics will provide an opportunity for a rainbow coalition of people to take a stance against Putin’s abuse of LGBTQ rights. The world will be watching.

As it was with slavery, the world corrects the Bible, and so it will regarding its anti-gay agenda. The holy scriptures remain the same, but the practice eventually changes.

Throughout history, when it comes to human rights, religion has been the last one to reach the finish line.

The Revisionaries in Vernon

Screening of the documentary, The Revisionaries, in collaboration with the Vernon Public Library.

Thursday, 26th September, 7pm

Vernon Public Library, 2800 30th Ave, Vernon.

From the website for The Revisionaries:

The theory of evolution and a re-write of US history are caught in the crosshairs when an unabashed creationist seeks re-election as chairman of America’s most influential board of education.

In Austin, Texas, fifteen people influence what is taught to the next generation of American children. Once every decade, the highly politicized Texas State Board of Education rewrites the teaching and textbook standards for its nearly 5 million schoolchildren. And when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas affects the nation as a whole. Don McLeroy, a dentist, Sunday school teacher, and avowed young-earth creationist, leads the Religious Right charge. After briefly serving on his local school board, McLeroy was elected to the Texas State Board of Education and later appointed chairman. During his time on the board, McLeroy has overseen the adoption of new science and history curriculum standards, drawing national attention and placing Texas on the front line of the so-called “culture wars.” n his last term, McLeroy, aided by Cynthia Dunbar, an attorney from Houston and professor of Law at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, finds himself not only fighting to change what Americans are taught, but also fighting to retain his seat on the board. Challenged by Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, and Ron Wetherington, an anthropology professor from Southern Methodist University in Texas, McLeroy faces his toughest term yet. THE REVISIONARIES follows the rise and fall of some of the most controversial figures in American education through some of their most tumultuous intellectual battles.