Secular Bangladesh Movement UK (SBMUK) hosted a seminar at the UK House of Parliament in London on Wednesday June 13th 2018. The seminar titled “Secularism: Hope for Unity, Peace and Justice” was chaired by Jim Fitzpatrick MP who opened the deliberations with an apology for having to re-schedule the seminar a day after the original date due to the European Union debate held Tuesday 12th June.
A number of chief guests and keynote speakers including Dr. Gowher Rizvi (International Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister of Bangladesh) and Andrew Copson (Chief Executive Officer at Humanist UK) were unable to make the rescheduled date and time due to prior commitments. Both sent their best wishes and apologies. It is anticipated that Dr. Rizvi will meet with SBMUK shortly to discuss the conclusions and recommendations from the seminar.
Contributions were made by SBMUK’s General Secretary, Jasmin Chowdhury, (‘Creating a Movement Not Moments’) with Keynote Speakers Professor Mesbah Kamal (Dhaka University) who provided historical facts and anecdotal stories reinforcing Bangla Culture as an inclusive society embracing all races. Mahjabeen Khaled MP representing the ruling party of Bangaldesh, Awami League, showed many examples how the current government has improved minority rights and especially women, whilst trying to provide equal opportunities for all irrespective of religious. Bidduth Barua (International Secular Forum of Bangladesh – Denmark Chapter) and Shuvo Roy of Secular Bangladesh Movement USA also presented their speeches promoting unity and justice.
Question and answer session was led by Pushpita Gupta (President of SBMUK).Attendees included Mohd Monirul Islam Kabir (First Secretary for Bangladesh High Commission in London), Sayed Faruk (Awami League UK), Sushanta Das Gupta (Founder of AmarMP), Ashim Chakraborty (UK Press Club), Urmi Mazher (ATN Bangla) , Saad Miya (Shecchashebok League), Tuton Bhowmick (SBMUK) and Marisa (Christian Solidarity Worldwide).
Some of the key points discussed included:
• Concerns around the violent attacks on religious minorities particularly around election times in Bangladesh.
• Law enforcement and social transformation are crucial for protecting the human rights of all communities.
• Education, cultural and economic developments are all important part of civic engagement and creating a secular society; political parties need to demonstrate how they will address this issue in their manifesto if they want to be inclusive to all citizens of the country.
• Upholding the principle of secularism requires commitment from government, all political parties and a joint approach from all sections of society including media.
• Movements to protect and promote the value of secularism such as Secular Bangladesh Movement UK can help government and authorities by providing insights, strategies in the global context.