Being an Ex-Muslim and born of Pakistani origin, it sure brings with itself a barrage of problems, pressures, ridicule and a lot of threats, especially if you happen to be an atheist and are fighting for your right to be an apostate or stand and oppose religious beliefs.
If you happen to be born in a country that takes Islam as the forefront for law-making, rights and the way of life to be run in that country, then you're most likely stripped away with a great deal of freedom of choice, practice or expression.
Born and raised in a religious environment and background, one is already given into the brainwash effect of being attached to Islamic beliefs the moment a person is born. The ritual of 'Aqeeqah' (shaving of the baby's hair, together with the sacrifice of an animal on the 7th day after the baby's birth), teaching and reading of the Quran when the child is growing up, performing the 5 daily prayers (which becomes obligatory after the child reaches the age of 10), gender segregation for both boys and girls, men and women, discouraging supposedly 'evil' acts like Music, gender mixing, watching 'western based media', and being discouraged to talk with 'Kafirs' (Non-believers), coupled with that being stuck to talking, dealing and interacting with Muslims and Muslims only.
This leaves one with no other choice but to ultimately accept that Islam is the one and absolute religion for them. The person grows up, and eventually becomes a 'missionary' of sorts as he/she is then asked to spread the message to other people of the same religion and bring them to the 'right' path.
Any and all forms of doubt and questioning against the said religion is shunned, pressured and discouraged so much to the extent that the person is eventually silences himself to such pressures that he/she isn't allowed to raise that question of doubt ever again.
Hence it comes as no surprise that once a person raised in such an environment, declares himself an apostate or commits blasphemy in such countries, he/she is subjected to mental torture, ridicule, threatened or even denied their right to live in this world.
Under a majority of Islamic countries, there is a severe punishment for a person that becomes an apostate or commits blasphemy (Some even put to death). Even if the person isn't tried in the Court, the public, what with being stern believers of Islam come out as a mob with the victim punished and ridiculed in such an inhumane manner that they're left to rot, or worse even, killed.
As is evident in recent cases, relgious minorities, free-thinkers and apostates are ill-treated and are stripped off their belongings, their lives and treated in such barbaric ways it's appalling.
The recent killings of the Shia minority in Pakistan, (See: Pakistan Market Bomb Kills Scores. and Pakistan: car bomb kills dozens outside mosque in Karachi.)
As well as the recent attack of the Christians by the angry Muslim mobs there. (See: The Anatomy of an Attack on Christians in Pakistan.)
And also the killing of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh (See the blog by Taslima Nasreen, a prominent secular humanist: Save atheists! Islamists are slaughtering them in Bangladesh! (Warning: Violent Images)
All of these stories just ascertain the level of intolerance Muslims are against the topic of Apostasy, free-thinking, blasphemy as well as not even giving rights for religious minorities as well. So much for a religion that is known as the 'religion of peace'.
As an ex-Muslim, who stands up for Atheism as well as being a secular humanist, my matters of becoming an Apostate as well as opposition against Islam and whatever it teaches should be my right of freedom of expression.
Intimidation, or threatening for such acts altogether put a huge blockade on the freedom of speech. A joke made about Muhammad should be given credence as much as one makes a joke about Jesus, yet it seems it serves to become a 'one-way ticket' to get murdered in vein of religious radicalism.
It's only appropriate, that we, as atheists and secular humanists, should be spreading our word, our message that such forms of barbaric torture, cruelty and violence cannot be tolerated that does a great degree of damage towards humanity.
In the end I'd like to state:
'' I'm a Pakistani. I'm an Atheist and an Apostate.
I stand against the blasphemy law of my country
which persecutes religious minorities, free-thinkers, apostates
I have the right to be an Atheist, a free-thinker and I don't
need a religion that needs to be pressured and enforced upon me against my will. ''
The only harm (if you can call it that) that words do is in that they are heard ... and may be repeated ... and may have some degree of credibility, depending on who says them. There was never a word spoken which, in and of itself, EVER did ANY harm to a human being. If a person claims to have been hurt by words, it is because he or she ALLOWED those words to hurt, allowed them to have impact or consequence.
I don't give a ripe dump if someone calls me a son of a bitch, a cocksucker or whatever. Their words have no impact on me. By the same token, if islam is supposed to be all its leaders say it is and fries on the side, it should be able to withstand some criticism, or even ridicule and mockery. If it can't, who is at fault, the mockers or the religion? In any case, either the religion has valid, reasonable answers for the criticisms or it doesn't. If it can't deal with the mockery because it is overly sensitive, then it can be bothered to, as I have said multiple times, grow a thicker skin and just blow off what it hears that it doesn't like.
We no longer live in a world where individual cultures may be isolated or protected from outside eyes and differing opinions. Seventh century ideas can learn to stand up to 21st century scrutiny and analysis or it can pay the price for being unprepared.
Put up or shut up.
The era of religion is over. Humans should live together in peace and harmony regardless of their opinions and believes. Albert Camus has clearly illustrated such a significant coexistence in few words. He says: “Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
Thanks for telling us about this. We can't let Bangladesh become East Pakistan again. Here s hoping for the government to defeat Jamaat and restore peace and secularism to the land.