Deadly Blogging in Bangladesh: Terrorists (Literally) Hack Atheist to Pieces
Bangladeshi authorities believe that a local band of Islamist militants have assassinated an outspoken Atheist for the fourth time this year.
Niloy Neel was an organizer with the Science and Rationalists’ Association of Bangladesh, a noted Atheist blogger, and, to make him an even more prime target, a Hindu. Authorities have good reason to believe that the local Islamists, who have not come forward by any official organized name.
The conflict centers around bloggers expressing anti-Islamist and occasionally pro-Western views on public forums like the Internet, a crime under Muslim law. Violent Islamic groups in Bangladesh have for roughly the past two and a half years been harassing and defaming a specific group of expressly non-Muslim Bangladeshis.
Initially we took such reactions as normal behavior of believers. We overlooked their reactions as we thought that these were only reactions which came out of instant anger. We preferred not to bother them at all. But in 2013, the situation took a sudden turn and got rapidly worse.
The hit list itself is not quickly accessible, but the list originates from demands made by local Islamic groups in Bangladesh. The first successful murder, of Ahmed Razib Haider (2/15/13), while not the first attempt, was an apparent catalyst for a pro-Islam uprising. Immediately following this murder, according to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, an apparent media blitz was undertaken by those who were not shy about their desired punishment for publicly humiliating their god: execution. Public protests, social media campaigns, and more took place between February and April, when Hefajot-E-Islam, a group of respected Muslims, submitted the list of 84 names along with 13 demands to the Bangladeshi government.
All four of this year’s murders have taken place in or around the capital, Dhaka. Niloy Neel lived in a sector of Dhaka called Goran, where very recently he was murdered by six men armed with machetes. According to local police speaking to the BBC, Neel’s wife was confined to another room as they hacked his body to pieces. They had tricked their way into the building by pretending they were there to rent an apartment.
Only two arrests have been made in this year’s killings, and progress on a previous five similar cases remains unknown. In the case of Neel, it is known that he had previously contacted police, relaying that he was afraid for his life and had received death threats. Critics maintain that the Bangladeshi government’s official “secular” position is not consistent with its actions in regards to inter-faith violence.
A Facebook meme post from January 2013, when the Jihad against the 84 “atheist bloggers” began, reads:
The greatest thing in life is to find friends who are unashamed to be as weird as you or seen with you in public.
Images from Shutterstock and Facebook.