By Danish Ahmad Khan
New Delhi/Dhaka: Bangladeshi journalist and activist Rakibul Hasan while talking to this Correspondent recently said that he is being threatened with dire consequences and has of late been constantly receiving threats to his life for his open advocacy over LGBTQ+ rights in Bangladesh.
Mr. Rakibul Hasan is a young journalist and civil rights activist based in Dhaka. Associated with The Bangladesh Today as a Feature Editor, Mr. Hasan is presently Head of Media Affairs, South Asian Youth Society. He has been a recipient of several awards and fellowships, including Women Deliver Fellow, USA; Queen Elizabeth Young Leader, University of Cambridge, UK; Department of State Alumnus, US Embassy Dhaka; and 120 Under 40 at Johns Hopkins University, USA. He had also worked as an Analyst at Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS).
An openly bisexual and atheist activist in Bangladesh, Mr. Rakibul Hasan graduated from Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and is now pursuing his higher studies in London, UK. Mr. Rakibul Hasan has also been a frequent contributor to India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper – IndianMuslimObserver.com.
Mr. Rakibul Hasan while talking to this Correspondent said that past incidents in which few mediapersons were hacked to death in Bangladesh makes him fearful and worrisome. He said that recently a mob of Islamist extremists raided his house and attacked his family asking them to leave the village forever. If they don’t comply with the demands then Rakibul Hasan will have to pay with his life upon returning to Bangladesh, and wherever they find him across the country.
“My father is an Islamic priest and considers homosexuality as a punishable crime and widely approves the intimidation and murders of homosexuals in societies across Muslim countries. After this incident, my father immediately asked me to repent and return to Islam as soon as possible, otherwise the family will not safeguard him, and rather file a case to police and disown him from all hereditary properties of the family,” said Mr. Rakibul Hasan.
Earlier In 2016, Xulhaz Mannan, the Editor of Bangladesh’s first LGBT magazine, and LGBT activist Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were murdered by the jihadists in the capital Dhaka. They joined the long list of atheists and minorities who are being murdered on a regular basis throughout the country. LGBTQ+ activists are a clear target for jihadists because of the criminalisation of homosexuality and Islamic intolerance in Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi penal code criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature,” including consensual homosexual, with the most severe possible punishment being life in prison. Ever since the British colonial authorities introduced the law in the 19th century, the society historically sees it as a judicially illegal and religiously sinful.
Islam is presently on the rise in Bangladesh. The number of devout Muslim adherents in the country has grown over the past two decades with 90 percent of the population now being Muslim.
[Danish Ahmad Khan is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper IndianMuslimObservercom. He can be reached at [email protected]]