Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Third secular blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh!

by Salman Hameed

This is outrageous and a systematic effort to silence secular opposition in Bangladesh. First it was the killing of Avijit Roy in late February of this year. He was killed by two men armed with machetes. Then in late March, Washiqur Rahman was killed by two men using knives and meat cleavers. Yesterday, Ananta Bijoy Dash was attached by four men and hacked to death. Before we even talk about anything else, here are the pictures of the three slain bloggers:

Ananta Bijoy Dash

Washiqur Rahman 

Avijit Roy (with his wife who was also injured in the attack)

They are all young and bright men standing up for what they believe. All three were part of the secular Shahbagh movement along with Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was killed in 2013 (see Standing with Bangladesh's Secular Bloggers!). From the New York Times:
Mr. Haider, Mr. Roy and Mr. Rhaman were all part of a movement known as Shahbag, which called for the death penalty for Islamist political leaders who were implicated in atrocities committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 war for independence from Pakistan. Young Islamic activists reacted with fury to the Shahbag movement. 
Imran Sarker, the head of an organization of secular bloggers in Bangladesh, said that Mr. Dash was also an activist with the Shahbag movement, organizing street protests in Sylhet. According to Free Mind, Mr. Dash had several years ago also edited a magazine called Logic that published essays on secular humanism. His friends described him as an atheist. 
The killings of the bloggers have hit a nerve in Bangladesh, with its deepening divide between secular thinkers and conservative Muslims over the question of whether Bangladesh should be a secular or an Islamic nation.
I doubt that it the killings have much to do with the specific content. Instead, it is about the power struggle and these particular parties are willing to take out their opponents with violence. At this point it is unclear who is to blame directly - but the local Al Qaeda affiliate is eager to take responsibility:
Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh, a group that claims ties to the Indian branch of Al Qaeda, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent was responsible for the death of Mr. Dash, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online. 
The leader of the Indian Qaeda branch had claimed responsibility for the deaths of Mr. Roy and Mr. Haider in a video posted on jihadist forums on May 2. The video was translated by SITE. 
The police made two arrests in connection with Mr. Rhaman’s murder, and arrested just one person over Mr. Roy’s murder: Shafiur Rahman Farabi, who had called for Mr. Roy to be killed in a Facebook post. Mr. Farabi is not believed to have been present during the attack. Seven university students and the leader of a hard-line Islamist group were charged with Mr. Haider’s killing in March.
All we can do is to voice our support for these endangered secular bloggers in Bangladesh. Here is the blog Mukto Mona (Free Mind) that was founded by Avijit Roy and Dash also contributed (you can find all of Avijit Roy's articles in English here). 

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