The extent of freedom of expression | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 21, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:15 AM, June 02, 2015

Law Letter

The extent of freedom of expression

Mirza Farzana Iqbal Chowdhury, Senior Lecturer of Law, Daffodil International University

Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are respectively articulated in article 39 and article 41 of the Constitution of Bangladesh. Both freedoms are credited as 'Fundamental Rights', delinquencies of which are enforceable at court provided that these rights will be subject to public policy, morality, public health, national security etc. 

Now the debating questions pop up which are construed in diverse ways by both sides of the debate:  first, have these fundamental rights of Avijit Roy been infringed?  And second, is his murder plausible?

Let's pitch into the matter. Avijit Roy is a renowned writer and researcher and he is assumed as a coherent person. A writer has right to express his or her opinion but subject to the reasonable restrictions in the constitution, because as a citizen he/she is obligated to go after the dictums of the constitution. Being 'Atheist' is your right but offending other religion and religious personalities is not certainly 'Exercise of your Freedom of Expression'.  Atheism means you are a 'disbeliever' and you should not hurt or attack other 'believers' of other religions. You should be placid about your stand and you should not poke into other's lives.

Movements of 'Atheist Bloggers' in Bangladesh seem to be quite apart from this basic notion of 'Atheism'. Instead, by this way or that way their actions are resulting in breeding anarchies in society which is a clear menace to the national integrity.

Though 'Freedom of Expression' is constitutionally catered to all citizens, before exercising it, they should ponder on their writings and preaching that whether those meet the 'reasonable restrictions' provided in the constitution or not. Regarding Avijit Roy and his writings, lots of words for and against him is being spoken. It is my request to all to check his writings whether those pass in the test of 'Constitutionality' or not.

Regarding the second question, the murder of Avijit Roy is not in any way plausible. This is not the right of so-called Jihadist to take his life. This is God who has created and who will take this very 'Life'. If all sanctions (from the angle of jihadis) are meant to be on this earth, why God kept 'Judgment Day' then? Besides that, our 'Human' identity comes first, and then religion comes. Extremism and chaos in name of religion is entirely maddening. Nobody should be let on to do anything which goes against the essence of brotherhood and national integrity of a country.

Freedom of Expression should be utilized by citizens in bona fide intention without any clandestine drive and subject to reasonable restrictions. In our country, when people live on street in winter, or die out of hunger, or child beggars are seen in streets, well, are debate on 'Religious belief' going to help them? Let's forget the factors segregating us and focus on the factors connecting us, because our motherland should look forward to a sparkling future where basic needs of everybody will be sufficed. 

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