US blogger hacked to death in Dhaka

Published February 28, 2015
DHAKA: Human rights activists take part in a torch-lit demonstration on Friday against the killing of Avijit Roy.—AFP
DHAKA: Human rights activists take part in a torch-lit demonstration on Friday against the killing of Avijit Roy.—AFP

DHAKA: Machete-wielding assailants hacked to death a blogger in the Bangladeshi capital, in the latest of a series of attacks on writers supporting freethinking values in the country.

The attack came amidst a crackdown on hard-line Islamist groups, which have increased activities in recent years in the South Asian nation.

Avijit Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin, and his wife and fellow blogger, Rafida Ahmed, were attacked on Thursday evening while returning from a book fair. Ms Ahmed was seriously injured in the attack.


Islamist group claims responsibility for the killing


Police retrieved two machetes from the site. They said they were investigating the involvement of Ansarullah Bangla Team, an Islamist extremist group that claimed responsibility for the murder.

Mr Roy’s family said Islamist radicals had been threatening him in recent weeks because he maintained a blog, “Mukto-mona” or “Freemind”, that highlighted humanist and rationalist ideas and condemned religious extremism.

“Islamist radicals are behind my son’s murder,” Ajay Roy told reporters on Friday after filing a murder case with police.

“We mourn but we are not out,” read a black banner on the site.

The Centre for Inquiry, a US-based non-profit group Mr Roy wrote for, said it was “shocked and heartbroken” by the murder.

“Dr Roy was a true ally, a courageous and eloquent defender of reason, science, and free expression, in a country where those values have been under heavy attack,” it said in a statement.

Hundreds of protesters rallied in Dhaka on Friday to denounce the murder. The demonstrators — including teachers, publishers and fellow writers — met near the attack site.

As they chanted slogans including “we want justice” and “raise your voice against militants”, the head of the Bangladesh bloggers’ association said the protests would continue until those responsible were apprehended.

“Avijit’s killing once again proved that there is a culture of impunity in the country,” Imran Sarker said. “The government must arrest the killers in 24 hours or face non-stop protests.”

Media group Reporters Without Borders rated Bangladesh 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.

In 2013, religious extremists targeted several secular bloggers who had demanded capital punishment for Islamist leaders convicted of war crimes.

Blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was killed that year in a similar attack near his home in Dhaka after he led one such protest demanding capital punishment.

In 2004, Humayun Azad, a secular writer and professor at Dhaka University, was also attacked by militants while returning home from a Dhaka book fair. He later died in Germany while undergoing treatment.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

Opinion

Editorial

Disquiet on the western front
Updated 07 Dec, 2022

Disquiet on the western front

IT is very difficult for Pakistan to be delinked from Afghanistan, because of reasons of geography and history.
Fuel from Russia
07 Dec, 2022

Fuel from Russia

THE apparent headway made with Russia for the purchase of its crude oil, petrol and diesel at discounted prices is a...
More women SHOs
07 Dec, 2022

More women SHOs

IT is encouraging to see more employment avenues opening up for women in Pakistan, with an increasing number of...
Is there a plan?
Updated 06 Dec, 2022

Is there a plan?

The ball currently is in Imran's court, but it appears he is stumped as to what to do with it.
Riverfront concerns
06 Dec, 2022

Riverfront concerns

THE door-to-door drive being launched by a group of landowners to mobilise affected communities against what they...
Morality police out
06 Dec, 2022

Morality police out

FOR several months, Iran has been rocked by unprecedented protests, sparked by the death on Sept 16 of Mahsa Amini, ...