Hurting Religious sentiment: Once Again!  

Avijit Roy

Published on April 15, 2008

Mohammad Gani, one of the regular contributors of Mukto-Mona forum has recently accused us for propagating hate.  I have read Mr. Gani’s lengthy piece and I responded back here. This article is further elaboration of my stand. 

The Accusation

Mr. Gani accused MM for spreading especially racially motivated (on Muslims) and aggressive comment. In his words- “MM moderators have freely been disseminating those views of expressive harms without any remorse.”

Such Accusation of Mr. Gani is not new.  He wrote similar lengthy piece on NFB - 01 Sept. 2006 and accused MM for hurting billion Muslims in Bangladesh and beyond. Our moderator Jahed Ahmed instantly refuted such allegation  by saying – 

“Mr. Gani thinks, mukto-mona is hurting the sentiments of millions of people in Bangladesh, destroying family values, and we are forcing people into recanting ancestor's beliefs/religions. So flattering for us to learn, we exert so much influence on peoples' mind! Yet I need to make a point here. At mukto-mona, we mainly deal with issues that we believe are dogmatic, irrational and unscientific. If any such issues coincides with some one's own definition of a "family value", "religion", "religious ritual" etc, we simply won't stop from doing it. We know, even icons like Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Ram Mohan Roy, Kazi Nazrul Islam were once accused of having "destroyed religions/cultures", etc. What if they stopped? Would the necessary reformation/change have taken place? Or take the example of Mary Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Women." Didn't many say she was putting whole order of the society up side down by espousing equal rights for women? Same holds true for late Quazi Abdul Wadud, Quazi Motahar Hossain, Prof. Ahmed Shariff, Aroj Ali Matubbor et al of Bangladesh.” (MM Message #36096)


I found Mr. Gani's new article nothing but the old, unpalatable, empiricist wine in a new bottle, which we had refuted many times. I would like to respond to this accusation one more time perhaps.


We have seen time to time that Muslim fundamentalists certainly think of mukto-mona just as a creation of some "anti-Muslim" gang with vested interest.  Mr. Gani’s view is in-line of that notion. However, Had Mr. Gani been smart enough, he would have noticed that Hindu and other fanatics also curse Mukto-Mona, but completely for opposite reason - i.e, for favoring the Muslims. Just few days ago, one devout hindu was accusing MM writers for becoming “Al-Mahmud” and “Anwar Zahid”, the reason was, MM core members and moderators were very vocal against unjustified Iraq war and racial approach against Muslims. If we were so racist against Muslims then why did we protest at that time? You cannot have both ways, Mr. Gani.


The matter should be clear by now. We were against all kinds of social injustices, religious and oppressive dogmas, doctrines, and discriminations.  We critiqued everything that hindered people's access to civil liberty, freedom, democracy and secularism.  We took a strong stand against all kinds of human rights violations such as oppression of ethnic/religious minority community and gender-based discriminations against women, homosexuals and others, and we have proven it time to time.  Our project, our past petitions and the articles are the proof. We had written petition when hindu fanatics destroyed the Babri mosque,  appealed for Gujarat Genocide Trials, against Hindutva Vandalism on Renowned Artist M F Hussain’s Paintings etc.  What type of racism is Mr. Gani talking about?


Undeserved Respect

Mr. Gani is ‘so anxious’ for hurting religious sentiment of the Muslims that he even bothered to compare us with 'KKK'.  I understand from where his anxiety is coming. It is a widespread assumption, or more precisely an universal truth for them - that religious feelings is vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of 'respect', in a different category from the respect that any human being should pay to any other.    But before tackling such argument, let me site few quotes from past history. Thomas Paine, one of the greatest humanists of his time once uttered about Bible - 

"...The Bible is a book lies, wickedness and Blasphemy. As for the book called Bible, it is actually blasphemy to call it the word of god. ...This book is too ridiculous even for criticism" ( Ref. The age of reason; Thomas Paine, p 88).


James Harvey Johnson also once wrote: 

"We see nothing worthwhile in this book. It is most evil, injurious, fallacious, divisive book ever written. It has caused more deaths, tortures and suffering than any other book ever written. It has been the most oft-used instrument for holding back human progress for thousand years. It has been the cause of more wars than any other book or tyrant or human characteristic" (Ref. 'Of the bible', James Harvey Johnson, The New Zealand Rationalist Humanist, vol XXXV)

Thomas Jefferson uttered :

"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity".  

and also said, "The Christian God is being a terrific character - cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust".

Ancient Charbakas criticized Vedas in a very venomous language. Even today, If you go to any Dalit site you will still see how harshly they use to criticize Hinduism, and especially Bhrahminism. 

The following lines indicate how an western critique criticized Abraham's character just few decades ago -


"Who was Abraham? An insane Barbarian patriarch who married his sister, denied his wife, and seduced her handmaid, who drove one child into desert to starve and made preparation to butcher the other" (Ref. Illustrias Biblical Personalities; Jhon E Remsburg, Freethought, July 1997)


Bertrand Russell also attacked Bible in no less than similar tone in many of his articles including his famous book – ‘Why I am not a Christian’ . No body had saught head for Russell, Harvey, Jefferson or Paine. None were accused for being “hate-monger” or “hurting sentiment” of billions of Christians. It looks Mr. Gani has a unique ability of “being hurt” always!  Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary biologist quoted in his recent book, 'God Delusion' from Douglas Adams' speech at Digital Biota 2 Cambridge U.K., September 1998 to explain such cabalistic behavioral pattern:

"Religion ... has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. That's an idea we're so familiar with, whether we subscribe to it or not, that it's kind of odd to think what it actually means, because really what it means is 'Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? - because you're not!' If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it, but on the other hand if somebody says 'I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday', you say, 'Fine, I respect that'. ...

Why should it be that it's perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows, but to have an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe, no, that's holy? What does that mean? Why do we ring-fence that for any other reason other than that we've just got used to doing so? There's no other reason at all, it's just one of those things that crept into being and once that loop gets going it's very, very powerful. So, we are used to not challenging religious ideas but it's very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you're not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn't be."


Religion is so entrenched in the mind of the people like Mohammad Gani  that they  have been able to foist off onto popular culture the notion that religion should always deserve a kid glove treatment. What an irony!  Republicans can criticize the political philosophy of Democrats and vice versa. BNP can criticize the political ideology of AL, Jamat can criticize ‘equal right for women’ when they think it anti-islamic. Socialists and capitalists can criticize each other's basic worldview. However, to the people like Mr. Gani, religious beliefs must be above from any kind piercing criticism. If you criticize, you will be a hatemonger -a “KKK”. This is a typical example of our society's overweening respect for religion.


If his religious sentiment is being hurt by the criticism of MM writers, then be with it! If he cant get rid of his ambiguous hysterical 'hurt' thingee- then please do not blame us.   We are not in a favor of offending or hurting anyone just for the sake of it. However, we think, there is definitely a time and place to make religion look as ridiculous as it actually is. When I am writing the article, the hundreds of mullahs clashing with police the city's Baitul Mukarram National Mosque area.  They are aggressively opposing the equal rights for women. The reason is quite clear. Allah preaches the superiority of men by confirming that men have an advantage over the women (Q. 2:228). Quran not only denies women's equal right to their inheritance (Q. 4:11-12), it also regards them as imbeciles and decrees that their testimony is not admissible in the court of law unless it is accompanied with the testimony of a man (Q. 2:282). Mullahs are abiding by Quran, the holy book.

Pic: Three members of Islamist outfits beat up a policeman, two with the snatched shotgun and helmet while the other with a bamboo stick, after the cop fell behind his retreating colleagues who chased the agitators near Baitul Mukarram National Mosque as a protest of implementing a law that would provide equal rights for women.

Will it be a hate, if we point out this? There is definitely a time and place to emphasize the opportunities awaiting a person who lives a life free of superstition. Mukto-Mona has been awarded prestigious Jahanara Imam Memorial Medal recently for making significant contribution in the movement for establishing humanism, rationalism and scientific mindset among the people. Many popular media including Daily star or German Bangla Radio have taken interviews and published those with due importance. MM books have already made a quick land marks Mr. Gani should ask himself  who is preaching real hate – is this Mukto-Mona or he himself - taking this onerous duty on himself to propagate name calling among Bangalee readers?


I would also like to point out that while criticizing a particular dogma, it is also important to make the proper distinction between Muslims and Islam. Muslims are people, human beings like you and I and that’s why many of our members voice for the rights of oppressed people of Palestine or Kashmiris or stood against Iraq war, even though they criticize Islam as a dogma. I wonder whether Mr. Gani will ever realize that!


Apparently, I have not seen Mr. Gani raising his voice when an atheist Professor Humayun Azad's  neck had been chopped off by religious fanatics, neither had he been noticed to do anything when  religious fundamentalists issuing fatwas against the freethinkers of Bangladesh or calling  them Murtad and seeking death penalty. He does not think that anybody like us has any right of getting hurt when  Shamsher Ali  spreads sleazy lies to make his religion 'super-scientific' by capturing all the news and government media, and to our surprise, the state promotes him disgracefully. Mr. Gani probably  will not find anything wrong when he sees that  the non-believers like us have to start our day listening so-called Quran-Telwat or other religious recitation, which many of us do not want to, but forced to by state-patronization!  He does not find anything wrong when state also patronizes Baitul Mukram's Khatib to spread Jihad against the infidels on each Khutba on Jumma. For him, so called 'sentiment' and a 'ground for getting hurt' should lie only in the domain of a believer like him, and not to any infidel community. Indeed their 'religious sentiment' is quite precious!


Holy Hate

Mr. Gani was accusing us for promoting hate.  But real hate is not in the heart of Mukto-Mona writers, but somewhere else. Let’s have an impartial look at the history book to get some idea of these ‘real hatred’ –

-- The Nazi Holocaust was rooted in centuries of religious hate.  Historian Dagobert Runes said the long era of church persecution killed three and a half million Jews. Hitler justified his fight for the German people and against Jews by using Godly and Biblical reasoning. He said in his book Mein Kampf:

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

Here is a site that documents how Christianity inspired Hitler for killing Jews relentlessly :   

-- The First Crusade was launched in 1095 with the battle cry "Deus Vult" (God wills it), a mandate to destroy infidels in the Holy Land. Gathering crusaders in Germany first fell upon "the infidel among us," Jews in the Rhine valley, thousands of whom were dragged from their homes or hiding places and hacked to death or burned alive. Then the religious legions plundered their way 2,000 miles to Jerusalem, where they killed virtually every inhabitant, "purifying" the symbolic city. Cleric Raymond of Aguilers wrote: "In the temple of Solomon, one rode in blood up to the knees and even to the horses' bridles, by the just and marvelous judgment of God."


-- In ancient Arab, 10,000 Muslims were killed by Muslims themselves by civil war of Jamal. Another 70,000 were killed in siffen war between Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Muaiba, mind it - people were very less in number in Arab at that time. Earlier, the prophet of the Islam, also on one occasion killed 700 surrendered people (grown up men of the Jew tribe Banu Quraiza) and had captured the women and children as slaves (including young pretty women as sex-slaves). Besides these, there are plenty evidences  on Muslim’s genocide on Muslims. You can find some of these here.


-- In Bible (see verse Numbers 31:16-18 etc.), Moses commands the murder of approximately 100,000 young males and, roughly, 68,000 helpless women.


-- In Ramayan, Rama  killed Shamvuka, a schedulecast sudra for reciting Vedas.  There are a lot of incidents like this. You can find several other incidents here.  


-- Human sacrifice blossomed in the Mayan theocracy of Central America between the 11th and 16th centuries. To appease a feathered-serpent god, maidens were drowned in sacred wells and other victims either had their hearts cut out, were shot with arrows, or were beheaded. Elsewhere, sacrifice was sporadic. In Peru, pre-Inca tribes killed children in temples called "houses of the moon." In Tibet, Bon shamans performed ritual killings. In Borneo builders of pile houses drove the first pile through the body of a maiden to pacify the earth goddess. In India, Dravidian people offered lives to village goddesses, and followers of Kali sacrificed a male child every Friday evening.


-- In the Third Crusade, after Richard the Lion-Hearted captured Acre in 1191, he ordered 3,000 captives -- many of them women and children -- taken outside the city and slaughtered. Some were disemboweled in a search for swallowed gems. Bishops intoned blessings. Infidel lives were of no consequence. As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux declared in launching the Second Crusade: "The Christian glories in the death of a pagan, because thereby Christ himself is glorified."


-- The Assassins were a sect of Ismaili Shi'ite Muslims whose faith required the stealthy murder of religious opponents. From the 11th to 13th centuries, they killed numerous leaders in modern-day Iran, Iraq and Syria. They finally were wiped out by conquering Mongols -- but their vile name survives.


-- Throughout Europe, beginning in the 1100s, tales spread that Jews were abducting Christian children, sacrificing them, and using their blood in rituals. Hundreds of massacres stemmed from this "blood libel." Some of the supposed sacrifice victims -- Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, the holy child of LaGuardia, Simon of Trent -- were beatified or commemorated with shrines that became sites of pilgrimages and miracles.


-- In 1209, Pope Innocent III launched an armed crusade against Albigenses Christians in southern France. When the besieged city of Beziers fell, soldiers reportedly asked their papal adviser how to distinguish the faithful from the infidel among the captives. He commanded: "Kill them all. God will know his own." Nearly 20,000 were slaughtered -- many first blinded, mutilated, dragged behind horses, or used for target practice.


-- Muslim holy wars spread Islam westward across North Africa and up through Spain - and eastward into India - and northward through the Balkans into Austria. The horror in the Balkans (between Catholic Croatians, Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Bosnians and Kosovars) is historic fallout from the ancient Muslim conquest.


-- The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 proclaimed the doctrine of transubstantiation: that the host wafer miraculously turns into the body of Jesus during the mass. Soon rumors spread that Jews were stealing the sacred wafers and stabbing or driving nails through them to crucify Jesus again. Reports said that the pierced host bled, cried out, or emitted spirits. On this charge, Jews were burned at the stake in 1243 in Belitz, Germany -- the first of many killings that continued into the 1800s. To avenge the tortured host, the German knight Rindfliesch led a brigade in 1298 that exterminated 146 defenseless Jewish communities in six months.


-- In the 1200s the Incas built their empire in Peru, a society dominated by priests reading daily magical signs and offering sacrifices to appease many gods. At major ceremonies up to 200 children were burned as offerings. Special "chosen women" -- comely virgins without blemish -- were strangled.


-- Also during the 1200s, the hunt for Albigensian heretics led to establishment of the Inquisition, which spread over Europe. Pope Innocent IV authorized torture. Under interrogation by Dominican priests, screaming victims were stretched, burned, pierced and broken on fiendish pain machines to make them confess to disbelief and to identify fellow transgressors. Inquisitor Robert le Bourge sent 183 people to the stake in a single week.


-- In Spain, where many Jews and Moors had converted to escape persecution, inquisitors sought those harboring their old faith. At least 2,000 Spanish backsliders were burned. Executions in other countries included the burning of scientists such as mathematician-philosopher Giordano Bruno, who espoused Copernicus's theory that the planets orbit the sun.


-- When the Black Death swept Europe in 1348-1349, rumors alleged that it was caused by Jews poisoning wells. Hysterical mobs slaughtered thousands of Jews in several countries. In Speyer, Germany, the burned bodies were piled into giant wine casks and sent floating down the Rhine. In northern Germany Jews were walled up alive in their homes to suffocate or starve. The Flagellants, an army of penitents who whipped themselves bloody, stormed the Jewish quarter of Frankfurt in a gruesome massacre. The prince of Thuringia announced that he had burned his Jews for the honor of God.


-- The Aztecs began their elaborate theocracy in the 1300s and brought human sacrifice to a golden era. About 20,000 people were killed yearly to appease gods -- especially the sun god, who needed daily "nourishment" of blood. Hearts of sacrifice victims were cut out, and some bodies were eaten ceremoniously. Other victims were drowned, beheaded, burned or dropped from heights. In a rite to the rain god, shrieking children were killed at several sites so that their tears might induce rain. In a rite to the maize goddess, a virgin danced for 24 hours, then was killed and skinned; her skin was worn by a priest in further dancing. One account says that at King Ahuitzotl's coronation, 80,000 prisoners were butchered to please the gods.


-- In the 1400s, the Inquisition shifted its focus to witchcraft. Priests tortured untold thousands of women into confessing that they were witches who flew through the sky and engaged in sex with the devil -- then they were burned or hanged for their confessions. Witch hysteria raged for three centuries in a dozen nations. Estimates of the number executed vary from 100,000 to 2 million. Whole villages were exterminated. In the first half of the 17th century, about 5,000 "witches" were put to death in the French province of Alsace, and 900 were burned in the Bavarian city of Bamberg. The witch craze was religious madness at its worst.


-- The "Protestant Inquisition" is a term applied to the severities of John Calvin in Geneva and Queen Elizabeth I in England during the 1500s. Calvin's followers burned 58 "heretics," including theologian Michael Servetus, who doubted the Trinity. Elizabeth I outlawed Catholicism and executed about 200 Catholics.


-- Protestant Huguenots grew into an aggressive minority in France in the 15OOs -- until repeated Catholic reprisals smashed them. On Saint Bartholomew's Day in 1572, Catherine de Medicis secretly authorized Catholic dukes to send their soldiers into Huguenot neighborhoods and slaughter families. This massacre touched off a six-week bloodbath in which Catholics murdered about 10,000 Huguenots. Other persecutions continued for two centuries, until the French Revolution. One group of Huguenots escaped to Florida; in 1565 a Spanish brigade discovered their colony, denounced their heresy, and killed them all.


-- Members of lndia's Thuggee sect strangled people as sacrifices to appease the bloodthirsty goddess Kali, a practice beginning in the 1500s. The number of victims has been estimated to be as high as 2 million. Thugs were claiming about 20,000 lives a year in the 1800s until British rulers stamped them out. At a trial in 1840, one Thug was accused of killing 931 people. Today, some Hindu priests still sacrifice goats to Kali.


-- In 1583 in Vienna, a 16-year-old girl suffered stomach cramps. A team of Jesuits exorcized her for eight weeks. The priests announced that they had expelled 12,652 demons from her, demons that her grandmother had kept as flies in glass jars. The grandmother was tortured into confessing that she was a witch who had engaged in sex with Satan. She was then burned at the stake. This was one of perhaps one million such executions during three centuries of witch-hunts.


-- The Anabaptists, communal "rebaptizers," were slaughtered by both Catholic and Protestant authorities. In Munster, Germany, Anabaptists took control of the city, drove out the clergymen, and proclaimed a New Zion. The bishop of Munster began an armed siege. While the townspeople starved, the Anabaptist leader proclaimed himself king and executed dissenters. When Munster finally fell, the chief Anabaptists were tortured to death with red-hot pincers and their bodies hung in iron cages from a church steeple.


-- Oliver Cromwell was deemed a moderate because he massacred only Catholics and Anglicans, not other Protestants. This Puritan general commanded Bible-carrying soldiers, whom he roused to religious fervor. After decimating an Anglican army, Cromwell said, "God made them as stubble to our swords." He demanded the beheading of the defeated King Charles I, and made himself the holy dictator of England during the 1650s. When his army crushed the hated Irish Catholics, he ordered the execution of the surrendered defenders of Drogheda and their priests, calling it "a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches."


-- Ukrainian Bogdan Chmielnicki was a Cossack Cromwell. He wore the banner of Eastern Orthodoxy in a holy war against Jews and Polish Catholics. More than 100,000 were killed in this 17th-century bloodbath, and the Ukraine was split away from Poland to become part of the Orthodox Russian empire.


-- The Thirty Years' War produced the largest religious death toll of all time. It began in 1618 when Protestant leaders threw two Catholic emissaries out of a Prague window into a dung heap. War flared between Catholic and Protestant princedoms, drawing in supportive religious armies from Germany, Spain, England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Italy. Sweden's Protestant soldiers sang Martin Luther's "Ein 'Feste Burg" in battle. Three decades of combat turned central Europe into a wasteland of misery. One estimate states that Germany's population dropped from 18 million to 4 million. In the end nothing was settled, and too few people remained to rebuild cities, plant fields, or conduct education.


-- When Puritans settled in Massachusetts in the 1600s, they created a religious police state where doctrinal deviation could lead to flogging, pillorying, hanging, cutting off ears, or boring through the tongue with a hot iron. Preaching Quaker beliefs was a capital offense. Four stubborn Quakers defied this law and were hanged. In the 1690s fear of witches seized the colony. Twenty alleged witches were killed and 150 others imprisoned.


-- In 1723 the bishop of Gdansk, Poland, demanded that all Jews be expelled from the city. The town council declined, but the bishop's exhortations roused a mob that invaded the ghetto and beat the residents to death.


-- Islamic jihads (holy wars), mandated by the Koran, killed millions over 12 centuries. In early years, Muslim armies spread the faith rapidly: east to India and west to Morocco. Then splintering sects branded other Muslims as infidels and declared jihads against them. The Kharijis battled Sunni rulers. The Azariqis decreed death to all "sinners" and their families. In 1804 a Sudanese holy man, Usman dan Fodio, waged a bloody jihad that broke the religious sway of the Sultan of Gobir. In the 1850s another Sudanese mystic, 'Umar al-Hajj, led a barbaric jihad to convert pagan African tribes -- with massacres, beheadings and a mass execution of 300 hostages. In the 1880s a third Sudanese holy man, Muhammad Ahmed, commanded a jihad that destroyed a 10,000-man Egyptian army and wiped out defenders of Khartoum led by British general Charles "Chinese" Gordon. 


-- In 1801 Orthodox priests in Bucharest, Romania, revived the story that Jews sacrificed Christians and drank their blood. Enraged parishioners stormed the ghetto and cut the throats of 128 Jews.

-- During 1815 to 1828 about 8135 women (average of about 507 to 567 documented incidents per year) were burned alive due to the Hindu religious custom- Sati. Some incidents can be found here.  

-- When the Baha'i faith began in Persia in 1844, the Islamic regime sought to exterminate it. The Baha'i founder was imprisoned and executed in 1850. Two years later, the religious government massacred 20,000 Baha'is. Streets of Tehran were soaked with blood. The new Baha'i leader, Baha'ullah, was tortured and exiled in foreign Muslim prisons for the rest of his life.


-- Human sacrifices were still occurring in Buddhist Burma in the 1850s. When the capital was moved to Mandalay, 56 "spotless" men were buried beneath the new city walls to sanctify and protect the city. When two of the burial spots were later found empty, royal astrologers decreed that 500 men, women, boys, and girls must be killed and buried at once, or the capital must be abandoned. About 100 were actually buried before British governors stopped the ceremonies. 

-- In 1857 both Muslim and Hindu taboos triggered the Sepoy Mutiny in India. British rulers had given their native soldiers new paper cartridges that had to be bitten open. The cartridges were greased with animal tallow. This enraged Muslims, to whom pigs are unclean, and Hindus, to whom cows are sacred. Troops of both faiths went into a crazed mutiny, killing Europeans wantonly. At Kanpur, hundreds of European women and children were massacred after being promised safe passage. 

-- Late in the 19th century, with rebellion stirring in Russia, the czars attempted to divert public attention by helping anti-Semitic groups rouse Orthodox Christian hatred for Jews. Three waves of pogroms ensued -- in the 1880s, from 1903 to 1906, and during the Russian Revolution. Each wave was increasingly murderous. During the final period, 530 communities were attacked and 60,000 Jews were killed.


-- In the early 1900s, Muslim Turks waged genocide against Christian Armenians, and Christian Greeks and Balkans warred against the Islamic Ottoman Empire.


 --  In the Cristero War, about  ninety thousand Mexicans  were killed in the 1920s.

-- When India finally won independence from Britain in 1947, the "great soul" of Mahatma Gandhi wasn't able to prevent Hindus and Muslims from turning on one another in a killing frenzy that took perhaps 1 million lives. Even Gandhi was killed by a Hindu who thought him too pro-Muslim. 

-- In the 1950s and 1960s, combat between Christians, animists and Muslims in Sudan killed more than 500,000.


-- In Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978, followers of the Rev. Jim Jones killed a visiting congressman and three newsmen, then administered cyanide to themselves and their children in a 900-person suicide that shocked the world.


-- Islamic religious law decrees that thieves shall have their hands or feet chopped off, and unmarried lovers shall be killed. In the Sudan in 1983 and 1984, 66 thieves were axed in public. A moderate Muslim leader, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, was hanged for heresy in 1985 because he opposed these amputations. In Saudi Arabia a teen-age princess and her lover were executed in public in 1977. In Pakistan in 1987, a 25-year-old carpenter's daughter was sentenced to be stoned to death for engaging in unmarried sex. In the United Arab Emirates in 1984, a cook and a maid were sentenced to stoning for adultery -- but, as a show of mercy, the execution was postponed until after the maid's baby was born.


-- In Nigeria in 1982, religious fanatic followers of Mallam Marwa killed and mutilated several hundred people as heretics and infidels. They drank the blood of some of the victims. When the militia arrived to quell the violence, the cultists sprinkled themselves with blessed powder that they thought would make them impervious to police bullets. It didn't.


-- In 1983 in Darkley, Northern Ireland, Catholic terrorists with automatic weapons burst into a Protestant church on a Sunday morning and opened fire, killing three worshipers and wounding seven. It was just one of hundreds of Catholic-Protestant ambushes that have taken 2,600 lives in Ulster since age-old religious hostility turned violent again in 1969.


-- Hindu-Muslim bloodshed erupts randomly throughout India. More than 3,000 were killed in Assam province in 1983. In May 1984 Muslims hung dirty sandals on a Hindu leader's portrait as a religious insult. This act triggered a week of arson riots that left 216 dead, 756 wounded, 13,000 homeless, and 4,100 in jail.


-- Religious tribalism -- segregation of sects into hostile camps -- has ravaged Lebanon continuously since 1975. News reports of the civil war tell of "Maronite Christian snipers," "Sunni Muslim suicide bombers," "Druze machine gunners," "Shi'ite Muslim mortar fire," and "Alawite Muslim shootings." Today 130,000 people are dead and a once-lovely nation is laid waste.


--  Shi'ite theocracy in Iran -- "the government of God on earth" -- decreed that Baha'i believers who won't convert shall be killed. About 200 stubborn Baha'is were executed in the early 1980s, including women and teenagers. Up to 40,000 Baha'is fled the country. Sex taboos in Iran are so severe that: (1) any woman who shows a lock of hair is jailed; (2) Western magazines being shipped into the country first go to censors who laboriously black out all women's photos except for faces; (3) women aren't allowed to ski with men, but have a separate slope where they may ski in shrouds.


-- The lovely island nation of Sri Lanka has been turned hellish by ambushes and massacres between Buddhist Sinhalese and Hindu Tamils.


-- In 1983 a revered Muslim leader, Mufti Sheikh Sa'ad e-Din el'Alami of Jerusalem, issued a fatwa (an order of divine deliverance) promising an eternal place in paradise to any Muslim assassin who would kill President Hafiz al-Assad of Syria.


-- Sikhs want to create a separate theocracy, Khalistan (Land of the Pure), in the Punjab region of India. Many heed the late extremist preacher Jarnail Bhindranwale, who taught his followers that they have a "religious duty to send opponents to hell." Throughout the 1980s they sporadically murdered Hindus to accomplish this goal.


-- In 1984, after Sikh guards riddled prime minister Indira Gandhi with 50 bullets, Hindus went on a rampage that killed 5,000 Sikhs in three days. Mobs dragged Sikhs from homes, stores, buses and trains, chopping and pounding them to death. Some were burned alive; boys were castrated.


-- In 1984 Shi'ite fanatics who killed and tortured Americans on a hijacked Kuwaiti airliner at Tehran Airport said they did it "for the pleasure of God."


-- In 1989 in Moradabad, India, a pig caused hundreds of people to kill one another when the animal walked through a Muslim holy ground. Muslims, who think pigs are an embodiment of Satan, accused Hindus of driving the pig into the sacred spot. Members of both faiths went on a rampage, stabbing and clubbing. The pig riot spread to a dozen cities and left two hundred dead.


-- A squad of armed Islamic zealots raided a Christian church at Behawalpur, Pakistan, on October 28, 2001, killing the minister, fourteen worshipers, and the church's police guard.


--  In Bangladesh (former East Pakistan), hindu population was 28% in 1941. Following the partition of India in 1947, the hindu population in east Pakistan went down to about 22% by 1951. After that, due to unabated persecution, intimidation, and forcible conversion to Islam, the Hindu-Minority population kept on dwindling and now stands at a meager 10.5% of the total population in Bangladesh.


-- In 1971, Pakistan created one of the cruelest genocides in world history by killing 3 million Bangalees in then East Pakistan (present Bangladesh). Jamate-Islami, Albadars and Razakars supported that genocide  in the name of protecting religion.


-- The September 11, 2001 a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States about  2,974 people died as an immediate result of the attacks with another 24 missing and presumed dead; the number of immediate victims totaled 2,998, the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians. The dead included nationals from over 80 different countries.



-- In 2002 Gujarat riots around two thousand people, were killed. More than 150,000 people were displaced. The riots were noted for excesses against women: -Scores of Muslim girls and women were brutally raped in Gujarat before being killed.


--  Minority oppression in a severe form occurred in Bangladesh aftermath the October 1, 2001 election. Many minor hindu girls including Purnima was gang raped by the cadres of BNP.  Detailed report is kept here.


--  During Jamat-BNP coalition government, Jagrata Muslim Janata or JMJ  under the leadership of person who goes by the name “Bangla Bhai” (Bengali Brother) created havoc among  the masses in the western and southwestern parts of Bangladesh.   In most cases, they killed the villagers in gruesome way often mutilating the victims’ body. In a particular case, one of the villagers was beaten dead by vigilante outfit and then hanged upside down from a roadside tree. Another act of cruelty of the gang of Bangla Bhai came to light as the three pieces of sliced body of a villager was dug out of a grave near the Islamist outfit's main camp in Naogaon. Several hundreds and thousand similar incident happened. Mukto-Mona featured some of the incidents, here.



The list can go on.  The history of religion is indeed a horror story. Mind it, the above list documents only few incidents of killing, raping, and mass murder from religious hatred - the real horror story is far beyond imagination. If Mr. Gani doubts it, just review this chronicle of religion's gore during the last 1,000 years or so. I would like to recommend ‘Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness’ by James A. Haught and 'God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything' by Christopher Hitchens to him.  In another book, 'Is religion killing us?' Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer explores the relationship between religion and violence in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. He concluded, "Violence is widely embraced because it is embedded and sanctified in sacred texts and because its use seems logical in a violent world". Mukto-Monas are not to kill each other but instead, to warn against such real hate and persecution that really killed the ‘real people’.


Now the important question is – Who is preaching the real hate -  is it Mukto-Mona writers by exposing these hate from the history, or it is Mr. Gani  who want to cover-up the incidents of holy-hate time to time by name-calling Bengali freethinkers? Readers are here to judge. 


Avijit Roy
Founding Moderator