Attack on Bangladeshi Blogger is the second of the same nature within five weeks
DHAKA, (Bangladesh) — The brutal killing of yet another blogger in broad daylight in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka has sent shockwaves through the country.
A blogger known for his atheist views has been stabbed to death in Bangladesh, in the latest of a series of attacks on independent writers in the developing south Asian nation.
Washiqur Rahman, 27, died of serious injuries inflicted in the assault on Monday morning in Dhaka, the capital.
On Monday morning, after he left home for the travel agency, Mr. Rhaman was killed for what he had posted. Three young men — among them students of madrasas here in the capital and in Chittagong — surrounded him and sliced at his head with machetes, cutting deep gouges into his forehead, face and throat. His body was left on the pavement in a pool of congealing blood.
Police have arrested two men for the murder, which comes just weeks after an American atheist blogger was killed in Dhaka, in a crime that triggered international outrage.
The incident prompted widespread fear in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, and also criticism of the government for not doing enough to protect freedom of speech.
The killing closely followed the pattern of another five weeks earlier, when young men with machetes surrounded a secular Bangladeshi-American blogger and author, Avijit Roy, as he left a book fair. Roy died in late February after being attacked with machetes by two assailants while he was returning from a book fair in Dhaka with his wife.
Mr. Rhaman took Mr. Roy’s murder to heart, changing his Facebook profile image to read “I am Avijit.” Over the next few days, he also mourned the 2013 killing of another blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, known online as Thaba Baba, and vowed to keep fighting.
“We condemn the government’s failure to protect bloggers, especially those who cover or comment on religion, fundamental freedoms and extremism of all kinds,” Benjamin Ismail, head of the Asia-Pacific desk of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, said in a statement.
Media group Reporters Without Borders rated Bangladesh 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.
Ibrahim Khalil, a fellow blogger who knew Rahman through events they organised, said Rahman was a “progressive” who wrote against religious extremism and repression of ethnic minorities.
Abdullah Fahim, a business student at Dhaka’s North South University, told the Times that 80% of Bangladeshis are probably against Rahman’s writing. “I don’t know why our government gave him the liberty to write against Islam,” he said.
“There is definitely a level of worry among the people who are involved in blogging and expressing themselves on social networks,” Mohammad Golam Rahman, a journalism professor at the University of Dhaka, and no relation of the murdered blogger, he tells.
While Rahman said sudden attacks of this nature can be difficult to prevent, he conceded that the government should be doing more to protect bloggers and ensure freedom of speech. Although Bangladesh is over 90% Muslim, he adds, those espousing an “extremist ideology” only form a “small segment” of the population.