We have been covering the attacks on secular writers and bloggers by Islamic extremists in Bangladesh. Now a third blogger and secular writer has been murdered by Islamic extremists . The latest victim is Ananta Bijoy Das, a blogger who advocated secularism, was attacked by four masked assailants wielding machetes. The rise of Islamic extremism has alarmed the free speech community in Bangladesh, which sees increasing Islamic orthodoxy in society and intolerance for non-Islamic views.
Das was a 33-year-old banker who wrote about the need for tolerance and the values of a secular state. He was also editor of science magazine “Jukti”, which means “logic”, and on the advisory board of “Mukto Mona” (Free Mind), a website propagating rationalism and opposing fundamentalism that was founded by U.S.-based blogger Avijit Roy. Roy was hacked to death in February and his wife seriously injured by Islamic extremists.
The Islamist group Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh said al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. Das won the annual rationalist award in 2006 for his “deep and courageous interest in spreading secular and humanist ideals and messages.”
Islamic groups have been pushing to make Bangladesh (with 160 million people) the next Sharia-based state imposing Islamic law on everyone regarding of their beliefs. Another Islamic group, Hefazat-e-Islam, has publicly sought the execution of atheists who organized protests against the rise of political Islam. This group led by Islamic seminary teachers led protests against the bloggers in May 2013 that left nearly 50 people dead.
The bravery and sacrifice of men like Das are hard to put into words. In the face of the rising violence and calls for Sharia law, these writers continue to put themselves at risk for their country and the universal right to free speech and free exercise. The hatred of these Islamic extremists are only surpassed by the towering courage of writers like Das.