Fighting Machetes with Pens – The Voltaire Lecture 2015

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July 2nd, 2015 19:00   --   21:30

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I will go back to being vocal and expressing what we believe in: the cause that Avijit died for. I will not be quiet.


On 26 February, Bonya Ahmed and her husband Avijit Roy, both humanist bloggers, were visiting the national book fair of Bangladesh. Just outside Dhaka University, they were attacked with machetes by Islamic fundamentalists. Bonya was severely wounded and Avijit himself was killed.

I wake at midnight and see Avijit’s bloody body on the street. In the silence of the afternoon I can hear sounds coming from the injured, semiconscious Avijit lying beside me in the hospital. When the doctor removes the stitches from the cleaver wounds in my head, I feel rattled. I’m startled when I spot my left hand missing my thumb.

In the British Humanist Association's 2015 Voltaire Lecture, Bonya will speak about her life with Avijit, their struggle for Humanism and secularism in Bangladesh and elsewhere, first in an address to the audience, and then in conversation with BHA President Jim Al-Khalili. Threats to free speech and reason are on the rise as religious ideologies spread and government complicity means inaction and injustice. Humanists, she will argue, must understand this threat and stand firm in defence of the human right to free expression.

Society does not move ahead in a straight line: sometimes it stumbles; sometimes it moves step by slow step; sometimes, empowered by the strength of the people, it forges ahead. Today, in the wake of countless injustices, murders, anarchy, and corruption, the people who gaze uncomprehendingly at the immobile body on the sidewalk hacked by cleavers, the people who cannot even think of stepping up to help, perhaps one day they will awaken.

Doors open at 19:00 for a start at 19:30.

General: £14.00
Member: £9.00


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Hilton London Metropole Hotel
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