Camelia Kamal’s Facebook inbox is inundated with dozens of messages everyday — most of them are rape threats and fundamentalists claiming they’d murder her. She has shared her phone number with just a handful of people and doesn’t check the messages in the inboxes of her social media accounts, unless she spots a familiar name while scrolling.
Kamal, is known to her readers, followers and haters as Foring Camelia, an atheist blogger who writes extensively on atheism, secularism, feminism, LGBT rights and free speech. She has more than 73,000 followers on Facebook.
Kamal, who had been receiving online threats since 2013, fled Bangladesh in 2015, along with her husband Subrata Adhikary who is better known as Subrata Shuvo, also a blogger who writes on atheism, following a spate of killings of atheist writers and intellectuals by Islamic fundamentalists in the country. Shuvo was in jail for 42 days, before he was released on bail, for ‘hurting religious sentiments’.
Kamal and Shuvo are both members of PEN International, a writers collective and mostly write for a living. They also work in separate Swedish organisations, details of which they did not wish to reveal in fear of their security and privacy being breached — it has happened a few times now. Though they have lived in Sweden for the past five years, the distance from Bangladesh has not made them feel safe. Emails and phone calls that claimed familiarity with their whereabouts made the couple move homes several times. “We try not to live in the same place for more than 6-7 months,” Kamal told HuffPost India.
“NOT SAFE ANYWHERE”
“We are not safe anywhere,” she said, “But we accept this hardship because we have to carry on the battle that we started. We have to realise the dreams of the ones who lost their lives. From exile, we are preparing the ground for the next level of the battle in Bangladesh,” said Camelia, who now works with an online educational project headed by Bonya Ahmed,...