At a meeting in Finland’s capital Helsinki’s Vapaa-ajattelijat (Free Thinkers Association) office on 30 November, a convening committee of the International Forum for Secular Bangladesh (Nirmul Committee) was formed. Leaders of several Finnish secular organisations were present at the event alongside members of Finnish Bengali diaspora.
Moderated by Dr Mojibur Doftori, the event was attended by All European Forum for Secular Bangladesh’s President Tarun Kanti Chowdhury from Sweden and its General Secretary Ansar Ahmed Ullah from the United Kingdom. The visiting guests gave a brief to the origin of the organisation, it’s relevance in the contemporary political contexts of Bangladesh, Europe and the rest of the world and its importance in promoting secular humanistic values to fight religious fundamentalism and violent extremism.
Suomen Humanistiliitto (Humanist Association of Finland) President Irma Peiponen, Vapaa-ajattelijat (Free Thinkers Association) Secretary General Esa Ylikoski, Swedish Forum for Secular Bangladesh’s Cultural Secretary Shilpi Chowdhury, Azizul Haque and journalist Tariku Seblewongel participated in the discussion amongst others.
The guests discussed Forum for Secular Bangladesh campaign’s history and its relevance in promoting secular humanistic values both in Bangladesh and within Bengali diaspora in Europe as well as engaging with European mainstream to collectively fight religious radicalism.
Following the discussion at the end of the meeting European Secretary Ansar Ahmed Ullah announced a Convening Committee of Finnish Forum for Secular Bangladesh to take up the challenge of fighting extremism. The seven-member committee was formed with Mojibur Doftori as the Convenor and Mynul Islam as the Member Secretary. Najib Murshed Songram and Arja Strid were appointed Joint Convenors and Md Saleh Ahmed, Mohammad Mahibul Islam and Abudarda Babu as Members of the Committee.