Bangladeshi secular activist who defend Buddhist monk fears for family’s safety

Asaduzzaman Noor, Bangladeshi blogger, secular activist and accused of defaming Islam, has claimed that the Bangladesh Government is harassing his family at Amtali Upzila of Barguna district (around 320 km south of Dhaka) for posting a Facebook video criticizing alleged appropriation of a Buddhist temple.
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Asaduzzaman Noor has been in hiding — in Bangladesh and abroad — for past several years after receiving death threats from Islamist groups for defending a Buddhist monk, and 10 Minute School, a pro-LGBTQ platform. He has been charged under the Digital Security Act, 2018, for defaming Islam — an offence punishable with a jail term of up to 10 years.
While contacted by media, Noor said that while the bloggers like Roy and Ahmed had managed to create a secular and democratic space online with their rational arguments, the audience for dissent might have shifted to a different medium, like videos, now.
After Noor posted his most recent video on July 13, supporting the Buddhist monk, a protest by Islamists was held on July 17 in Chittagong demanding that Noor and the monk be hanged. The next day, several members of his family were picked up by the police in plainclothes, alleged Noor.
Bloggers, social media activists, and LGBTQ rights campaigners have been repeatedly attacked in Bangladesh since 2013. According to some reports, at least 30 secular activists have been killed in Bangladesh in waves of violence since then
Bangladesh — which was founded as a secular country in 1971 — has accepted Islam as a State religion, while assuring minorities the freedom to practice their faiths. In reality, however, minority religions are often under attack in the country.
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