Saturday, February 28, 2015
Attackers in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka have hacked to death a US-Bangladeshi blogger whose writings on religion angered Islamist hardliners
Avijit Roy, an atheist who advocated secularism, was attacked as he walked back from a book fair with his wife, who was also hurt in the attack. No-one has been arrested but police say that they are investigating a local Islamist group that praised the killing. Roy's family say that he received threats after publishing articles promoting secular views, science and social issues on his Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona (Free Mind). He defended atheism in a recent Facebook post, calling it a "rational concept to oppose any unscientific and irrational belief". A group of men ambushed the couple, who live in the United States and were visiting Dhaka only to attend the book festival, as they walked toward a roadside tea stall. At least two of the attackers hit the couple with meat cleavers in the attack, police chief Sirajul Islam said. Dropping their weapons, the attackers ran away, disappearing into the crowds. Police said that they were investigating a local hard-line religious group that had praised the killing in an online message. Ajay Roy, father of the dead man, urged the authorities to find the killers and "ensure exemplary punishment". The killing in early 2013 of another secular blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, which was blamed on religious hardliners, sparked protests from free-speech supporters and counter-protests from Islamists. The police say that the attack on Roy was similar to the 2013 murder. Death threats against atheist writers and bloggers are nothing new in Bangladesh. Prominent writer Taslima Nasreen had to leave Bangladesh after she received death threats from hard-line Islamists in the mid-1990s. She wrote on her blog: "Avijit Roy has been killed the way other free thinker writers were killed in Bangladesh. No free thinker is safe in Bangladesh. Islamic terrorists can do whatever they like. They can kill people with no qualms whatsoever."