Serial Killings of Bangladesh's Secular Bloggers. Condemn Beheading of Syrian Scholar Khalid al-Asaad

Serial Killings of Bangladesh's Secular Bloggers by Islamic Fundamentalists

The latest in the long line of secular or atheist bloggers to be hacked to death for their beliefs is Niloy Neel. Niloy’s killing is the fourth such murder this year, and the eighth in two years.

The Sheikh Hasina Government is doing nothing to protect democratic voices and is muted even in its condemnation of the killings. Niloy had complained to police of threats and stalking but the police had ignored the complaint.

In January 2015, 22 year old Asif Mohiuddin, a who blogged against fundamentalism of all religions and was one of the founders of the Shahbagh movement, was stabbed on his head and neck, but survived this murderous attack. The Islamist fundamentalist group Ansarullah Bangla Team claimed responsibility for the attack. Ironically, in July 2013, it was Asif who was sent to jail, charged under a draconian IT Act of Bangladesh, that provides for punishment of internet users whose online writings might “tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely…to read, see or hear” it or “causes to deteriorate or creates possibility to deteriorate law and order, prejudice the image of the State or person or causes to hurt or may hurt religious belief or instigate against any person or organization.” While in jail, Asif met his attackers who were also in jail, and told him that they attacked him for deserting Islam and criticizing verses of the Quran that justify wife-beating. Asif now lives in Germany, where he moved to save his life.

In February 2015, another atheist blogger and founder of the Shahbagh movement Ahmed Rajib Haider was hacked to death. More than 10,000 people marched in protest with his coffin in Shahbagh Square.

In March 2013, another Shahbagh movement activist Sunnyur Rahaman was hacked at and badly injured.

In November 2014, Shafiul Islam, a university teacher of sociology and a Baul follower, was hacked to death.

In February this year, Avijit Roy, whose secular humanist blog Mukto-Mona was very popular, and his wife Bonya Ahmed, were attacked with sharp weapons. Avijit died while Bonya survived the horrific attack.

In March this year, another secular blogger Washiqur Rahman was hacked to death with meat cleavers.

In May this year, atheist blogger Ananta Bijoy Das who wrote on science, evolution, and the Bolshevik revolution, and edited a quarterly magazine called Jukti (Logic) was hacked to death.

Niloy Neel was the pen name of Niladri Chatterjee who was hacked to death on 7 August 2015. He was an organiser of the Science and Rationalist Association Bangladesh, blogged in Mukto-Mona, and was active in the Shahbagh Movement.

Many but not all of the bloggers thus attacked are atheists – what they have in common is that they participated in the secular Shahbagh movement that sought to end the impunity enjoyed by the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The attacks on bloggers in Bangladesh point not only to the dangerous fundamentalist forces in Bangladesh, but to the growing tendency of religious-majoritarian politics in the subcontinent. In India, the killing of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare are cases in point.

The powerful secular movement in Bangladesh is a source of hope and the brutal attacks on it call for widespread condemnation and protest. AISA organised a protest at the Bangladesh High Commission against the spate of killings, and in solidarity with powerful protests in Bangladesh.

Condemn ISIS Beheading of Syrian Scholar Khalid al-Asaad

An 83-year-old antiquities scholar Professor Khalid al-Asaad was publicly beheaded by the Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Syria. He was beheaded because he refused to lead the IS to the historic Palmyra site – that hosts ruins of one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.

Professor Khalid al-Asaad was the living repository of knowledge on Palmyra and the go-to person for any Palmyra scholar anywhere in the world. Asked by IS to lead them to the most valuable Palmyra treasures, al-Asaad refused. Before being abducted by the IS, he had already received many threats, but he refused to leave his beloved Palmyra, of which he knew “every artefact and every stone.”

The barbaric IS has been put to shame by the courage and integrity of this scholar who refused to betray the beloved heritage of which he had been loving custodian.

Liberation Archive