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Bengali diaspora come together for secularism

Campaigners have warned that increasing communal religious division is eroding the inclusivity of Bengali identity.

Activists, campaigners and members of the public from the Bengali diaspora came together at a networking event in London to discuss how to promote secularism in the face of increasing extremist religious identity politics within the community.

The event, organised by the National Secular Society (NSS), took place on 21 April at Toynbee Hall in Tower Hamlets, London.

Secular activist Ansar Ahmed Ullah talked about the importance of embracing secularism and the principles of secularism within the Bengali community.

Ajanta Deb Roy, founder and director of advocacy group Be Humane First, explained how anti-secular propaganda on social media affects the diaspora community, including religious minorities.

Syed Enamul Islam, executive president of the International Forum for Secular Bangladesh UK, spoke on promoting secularism at the community level and developing strong networks to share ideas.

Representatives from the NSS also explained how the NSS engages with the government through advocacy and campaigning to promote secular democracy.

Stephen Evans, chief executive of the National Secular Society, said, “We were keen to give a platform to those in the UK’s Bengali diaspora who are concerned about threats to cohesion within their community and to help raise the voices of those speaking out for secular democratic values.”

NSS engagement officer Buddha Halder said, “Everyone in the Bengali community needs to play their part to confront religious extremism, challenge religious identity politics, and promote secularism to strengthen the inclusiveness of the Bengali identity.”