Events in Bangladesh have led to the nation building a sinister reputation for hacking to death atheists and secular activits.
Excluding this incident, there have been four atheist/secular bloggers killed in the country this year. All involved violent hackings, with these activists marked for death for the singular crime of speaking their minds and advocating for the fair treatment of all class of people.
Blogger Avijit Roy, the most famous of the bunch, was killed in February, after returning home from the United States where he had been domiciled. His wife was with him during the attacks, and sustained significant injuries of her own.
All writers, all killed by Islamists just this year.
Earlier today, reports indicated publisher Faysal Arefin Dipon was hacked to death by suspected Islamists in Bangladesh. Faysal run the Jagriti publishing house in the Shahbag neighborhood. He published on a wide range of topics, and had published a book from Avijit Roy; who you’ll recall was the first killed this year.
“Mr Dipon was found dead at the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house, in his third-floor office.” The BBC reports.
“I saw him lying upside down and in a massive pool of blood. They slaughtered his neck. He is dead,” his father, the writer Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq, said, quoted by AFP.
Faysal’s wide range of published books, especially those of a secularist/humanist bent, had earned him death threats in the past.
In an earlier incident, three people were at the receiving end of a similar attack in the country. Another publisher, as well as two writers were attacked by men, locked in an office, and left for dead.
The International Ethical and Humanist Association (IHEU) reported the incident…
“Three men, all secular bloggers, one also a publisher and another also a poet, were attacked at Shuddho-Shor, a publishing house for progressive and secular books in the Lalmatia neighborhood of Dhaka.
“The attackers were armed with machetes and firearms, and it is likely the publisher Ahmed Rashid Tutul, who had received direct death threats from Islamists unhappy with output, was the primary target. The six or so attackers appear to have tricked their way in representing themselves as book-buyers.
“Those attacked were rushed to hospital. Tareq Rahim, the poet, is the most critically injured from the Shuddho-Shor attack, according to accounts from the hospital. The publisher Ahmed Rashid Tutul may also be in critical condition. Ranadipam Basu posted to his Facebook immediately after the attack, confirming he is alive and breaking the news.”
The IHEU has strongly condemned the attacks. Director of Communication Bob Churchhill said…
“We know what comes next because we’ve seen it before. In a few weeks or months, police and media will perform a merry dance, arresting and parading a few different groups or individuals detained in connection with the latest attack. They’ll parade someone for the cameras. Then there will be no trial, no true justice. And the same thing will happen again and again.
“How many more times must we see these bloody and callous acts of hatred before the authorities wake up to the true problem. Officials must stop threatening to arrest, and stop blaming atheists themselves for writing books and blogs. To victim-blame them will continue to empower the fundamentalist killers and undermine the very basis of secular democracy itself.
“Though there are many similarities with earlier outrages, today’s coordinated attacks may represent a significant emboldening and an up-step in the campaign to terrorize and silence the voices of humanists, atheists and secularists. The Bangaldeshi authorities must now accept that their failure to achieve justice and the appeasement of fundamentalist violence is not working, and is costing life after life.”
The IHEU is not the only one who strongly condemns these attacks. I know at this point atheists, secularists, and humanists everywhere would be similarly enraged. All right thinking people everywhere would as well, but this virulent strain of Islam simply refuses to go away.
This would otherwise be a truly secular nation, where every group of people would be free to flourish as much as they can. However, extremists simply would not leave other groups alone, calling on everyone to conform or be forced to face the music.
And as Churchill mentioned, the lack of action from authorities enables these crazy fanatics. No one is particularly punished for these attacks, and there is an implicit approval of the actions of these extremists that makes you wonder if most people, or at least the relevant authorities- probably think people deserve to die for holding different beliefs from you, or criticising you.
I mean, how many more of these must we hear about before people admit the problem with religious belief. Often we are told that outside interventions from imperialist powers breed these fundamentalists in Islam- but here is a clear example of these writers who would simply co-exist and occasionally criticise the virus of faith, but would simply not be left alone
After all, God forbid anyone should challenge the sovereign authority of Allah.
This has happened so many times, it seems futile to continue harping on about it. But we would not relent; these guys are heroes, who refuse to back down in the face of intimidation from these cowards who hide behind the facile justifications religion provides. Religion is definitely not the cause of all sh*tty human behaviour; but it is one more primer of behaviour which we can get rid of by making people see beliefs should be a matter of choice.
It is just an unfortunate truth that religions are often not the biggest fans of choice.