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.
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.
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.
National Executive Director