Award winning writer Ahmad Mustafa Kamal discussed the fear of free thinking that prevails in society and politics in Bangladesh, on the last day of Dhaka Lit Fest.
Addressing a session titled “PEN: Why fear it so?” he said: “Those who fear changes in society do not fear the pen, but the free thinking it symbolizes.”
“As such, those who have the power to challenge conventional thinking in society by wielding the pen are the ones being attacked,” Kamal, also a physics teacher at Independent University, added.
Echoing Kamal, author and of Pen Bangladesh Centre Joint Secretary Lovely Bashar said: “Free thinkers like Humayun Azad and Avijit Roy were attacked because they tried to bring about progressive changes.”
She further said freethinking would not be hindered by such assaults, as when enlightened people are murdered, their deaths only fosters the light of knowledge among the public, as they did when they were alive.
“When the intellectuals were killed in 1971, they thought then as well that the light of knowledge would be stopped. But it continued, invigorated by the atrocities,” she added.
Meanwhile, Author Ballari Sen said: “The expression of the suffering that the people undergo through writing can serve as a cathartic experience and help society accept what has happened and move on.”
Regarding the government’s opinion on free thinkers, Lovely said: “Government has two concerns – one is voters and the other is security of authors here.