At 21, Md Sazzadul Hoque seems to have been abandoned by everybody he ever cared for. His family, in Bangladesh’s Chittagong, has stopped supporting him and Hoque has been expelled from his college in Dhaka. For the last one-and-a-half years, he is living near Kolkata on a tourist visa. His fault: Hoque dared to write on issues such as secularism, atheism, gender equality, sexual and human rights and protested the killings and persecution of bloggers in Bangladesh.
“I now fear for my life. I could also be killed in India by fundamentalists who support the goings on in Bangladesh. I protested the atrocities being committed on the minority Hindu population in my country and the obstruction of free speech. I also write on the systematic political corruption and superstition that obstructs reasonable and critical thinking. I also campaign for ‘Be Humane First’, which aims to establish civil liberty. Now, I have nowhere to go,” Hoque says.
He belongs to a very conservative family and received religious lessons since childhood. However, as he grew up, Hoque started questioning certain beliefs and rituals.
“ People who were my best friends are my worst enemies now and would turn me over to the fundamentalists any time. Before coming to India, I ran from one shelter to another with imams baying for my blood. I was branded an atheistwho deserves death under Islamic laws,” he added.
Hoque claims that his ordeals began on May 25, 2017 after he posted on Facebook that: “I want to live like a human, not a Muslim – things I was taught and made to believe are wrong.” The post went viral and his Facebook account was suspended. “The threats started thereafter. I fled,” Hoque said.