30 Mar 2015

Bangladesh: second blogger hacked to death

A blogger is brutally murdered by men with machetes in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka – the second attack in five weeks on an online critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority country.

Above: a relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman

Washikur Rahman, an atheist blogger, was hacked to death on a busy street in the centre of Dhaka on Monday morning, a police official said.

“Police on duty near the spot caught two attackers red-handed with three machetes as they were fleeing the scene after the incident,” police official Humayan Kabir told Reuters.

They hacked him in his head and neck with big knives and once he fell on the ground they then hacked his body. Police Chief Wahidul Islam

A fellow writer said Rahman wrote against religious fundamentalism on Facebook and across other social media sites using a pen name, although this could not be confirmed by police. The alias used by Rahman is said to be “Babu” (ugly duckling).

“He is a friend of mine and a fellow warrior. He was an atheist and a believer in humanism,” fellow blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who survived a brutal attack by Islamists in January 2013, told AFP via Facebook from Berlin.

Political unrest

This is the latest in a series of attacks against writers and commentators speaking out against the beliefs of extremist groups who aim to create a sharia- based state in the nation. At least 100 people have died in political unrest in Bangladesh since the beginning of the year and hundreds more have been injured.

There is growing international pressure on the government and opposition to hold talks to stop the violence. The killing of the Bangladeshi-American online activist Avijit Roy last month triggered a demonstration where hundreds of secular activists held protests for days to demand justice.

Bangladesh: dangerous place for a secular blogger?

Roy was a writer and blogger known for pioneering Bengali freethinkers. Roy’s wife blamed her husband’s murder in February on religious fanatics, and accused police on duty of not doing enough to stop the attack.

The Bangladeshi government has come under heavy criticism from media group Reporters Without Borders, and the organisation rated the country 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.