Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A third blogger who spoke out against religious intolerance has been hacked to death in Bangladesh

Police say that about four masked individuals armed with machetes attacked Ananta Bijoy Das on a busy street in Sylhet as he made his way to work at a bank. "They chased him down the street and first attacked his head with their machetes and then attacked him all over his body," a police commissioner says. The attackers fled; Das, 33, was declared dead at a hospital. He wrote for website Mukto-Mona, or Free Mind, which was once moderated by Bangladeshi-American Avijit Roy. Roy was killed in a machete attack in February 2015. An al-Qaeda affiliate has claimed responsibility; an Islamist has been arrested. Blogger Washiqur Rahman was hacked to death in the country in March 2015. Both Roy and Das were "on lists of identified targets," a human rights activist in Dhaka says. "They've always believed and written very vocally in support of free expression and they've very explicitly written about not following any religion themselves." A friend of Das says that the banker had received threats related to his writing and more appeared after Roy's death. Das wrote primarily about science and evolution, but had criticized elements of Islam and Hinduism. He won Mukto-Mona's rationalist award in 2006 for his "deep and courageous interest in spreading secular and humanist ideals," per the site. The head of a bloggers’ association in Bangladesh has now called on the government to step down. "One after another incident is happening and they are not able to do anything," he says.

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