From Bangladesh today comes news that prominent writer and blogger Avijit Roy was attacked and killed on a busy sidewalk as he and his wife Rafida Ahmed (seen with him in Twitter photo above) were returning from a Dhaka book fair Thursday night. She was injured but survived that attack.
A group calling itself Ansar Bangla 7 (below) has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Prothom Alo newspaper, and has tweeted that Roy was killed for having spoken out against Islam.
Late Thursday evening,men–perhaps more–reportedly attacked the couple with large knives, then ran away into the nearby crowd.
Roy, 42, was an athiest who authored a popular Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona, or “Free Mind,” in which he discussed issues of religion versus secular humanism.
Roy championed atheism as “a rational concept to oppose any unscientific and irrational belief.” And that’s what hardline Islamist groups have objected to, viewing such comments as attacks on Islam.
“As Roy himself warned, Bangladesh is appeasing the most insidious and violent strains of Islamism, and he new [sic] his own life was under threat. That appeasement of theocratic demands and naked threats must end, now.” – Bob Churchill, IHEU Communications Director, Feb. 27, 2015.
“We cannot know the assailants who carried out tonight’s vicious murder,” said International Humanist and Ethical Union communications director, Bob Churchill. “But we do know this: Those who have openly made the most serious and credible threats on Roy’s life have been allowed to do so with impunity and now he is dead”
In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to “leave no stone unturned in investigating and prosecuting the attack on Avijit Roy and Rafida Ahmed Bonna.”
“This attack is emblematic of the culture of impunity that pervades Bangladesh, where the lack of accountability in previous attacks on the press continues to spurn a deadly cycle of violence,” Dietz said.
Last year, a Rajshahi University teacher, AKM Shafiul Islam, was stabbed to death allegedly because he opposed the wearing of burqas in the classroom by female students.
In 2013, another atheist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was murdered, allegedly by a little-known Islamist group called the Ansarullah Bengali Team.
In 2004, Humayun Azad, a prominent writer and teacher at Dhaka University, was seriously injured in an attack when he was returning from the same book fair.