Monday January 22, 2018
Home Opinion Blogged and f...

Blogged and flogged: Lethal tussle between fundamentalism and free expression in Bangladesh

0
//
144
Republish
Reprint

athiest-blogger-hacked-to-death-Bangledesh-ap-640x480

By Ridham Gambhir

Free speech is strangled when fanaticism provokes men to kill other men for their creed and outlook. Here is a look at the brutality suffered by four secular bloggers of Dhaka.

30_Niloy_070815_0001
Niloy Chakrabarty

Niloy Chakrabarty, a secular blogger in Bangladesh was hacked to death with machetes after a gang of men forced themselves into his apartment and killed him while shouting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest). This murder is the fourth of its kind.

Known by the pen name Niloy Neel, the latter wrote posts condemning the killings of the 3 bloggers in Bangladesh. He also wrote against communalism and advocated for rights of the minority community and women.

2893C3DE00000578-3077903-image-a-12_1431418302200
Avijit Roy and his wife

A prominent advocate of free expression, Avijit Roy, was murdered by machete-wielding assailants in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 26 February 2015. He and his wife were returning from a fair when they were attacked by unidentified assailants. Roy founded Mukto-Mona, an Internet community for freethinkers, skeptics, nationalists and humanists. Roy described his writing as “taboo” in Bangladesh. He had received death threats from fundamentalist bloggers for his political articles. Rokomari.com, a Bangladeshi e-commerce site, stopped selling Roy’s books after its owner received death threats from Islamists. In an interview with BBC Newshour, Roy’s wife said that police stood nearby when they were attacked on the spot but did not act.

Roy on the founding mission of Mukto-Mona-

“Our aim is to build a society which will not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy but would rather be based on reason, compassion, humanity, equality and science”.

blogger-bangladesh-killed-575x364
Ananta Bijoy Das

Bangladeshi blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was killed in an attack by four men wielding machetes in May 2015 in Sylhet. Das wrote blogs for Mukto-Mona, a website once moderated by Avijit Roy. The former was killed in broad daylight, when he was leaving his place to head for work.

Das was also a member of Gonojagoron Moncho, a political movement calling for the execution of war criminals and opposing Islamist political parties. His work focused on science and evolution, but he also criticized some aspects of Islam and Hinduism. After his death, local Gonojagoron activists organised a protest rally, demanding immediate arrest of the killers.

Blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu was ambushed by three men, out of which two were students. In their confession, the latter told police that they didn’t know what a blog was or what Rahamn wrote. They were following somebody else’s order and Rahamn’s murder was a “religious duty”.

On social media, Rahman reposted a cartoon depicting Prophet Mohammed from the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. He wished a happy birthday to author Taslima Nasreen, who was forced to flee Bangladesh due to death threats from fundamentalists. And he “liked” a picture of sausages wrapped in crescent rolls that someone had captioned, “Pigs in burqas”. Shortly after this, the blogger received threats and was later slaughtered like an animal.

What crime had these four men committed? Their crime was that they wrote with audacity and blew the clarion of their critical perspective on fundamentalism. These four bloggers wrote and got machetes at their neck that too in a country that has a long tradition of official secularism — the principle was enshrined in the 1971 Bangladesh Constitution.

Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh, an Al- Qaeda-affiliated group, has claimed responsibility for the killing and threatens to follow its ‘hit list‘ which include other secularists.

It is ironical how these four men were writing against religious extremism and communalism and their assailants proved the same by practicing it in broad daylight. Brad Thor, an award-winning writer believed that the freedom of speech includes the freedom to offend people. These four people evinced their secularity and skepticism even in their deaths.

_81281731_eae22f2f-3410-4e7f-a44d-fe0545732409
Bangladeshi social activists shout slogans during a protest against the killing of US blogger Avijit Roy.
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

India will soon ask Malaysia to extradite Preacher Zakir Naik

India will soon approach Malaysia with a request to extradite hardline Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

0
//
42
India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik
India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik. wikimedia commons
  • India will seek the Malaysian government’s help in extraditing televangelist Zakir Naik who faces charges of money laundering and inciting hatred through his sermons broadcast on Peace TV, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Zakir Naik obtained permanent residency in Malaysia 

Officials will approach their Malaysian counterparts with the extradition request sometime within the next two weeks, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing in New Delhi.

“Any formal request seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition requires a completion of the internal legal process involving consultation with other ministries involved in the case,” Kumar said.

“At this stage, we are nearing the completion of this process and as soon as this process is complete we will be making an official request to the Malaysian government in this matter,” Kumar said. “It could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But it would be soon and the nature of our request would also be clear.”

Naik fled India a month before terrorist carried out a massacre at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July 2016. This week, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the Islamic preacher legally obtained permanent residency in the country, and that Malaysian authorities would arrest him only if he broke local laws or was found to be involved in terrorist activities.

Naik’s speeches allegedly inspired some of the militants who carried out the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, where 29 people, including 20 hostages and five gunmen, were killed.

In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation, which partly funded the Peace TV channel that is banned in India, Bangladesh and several other countries.

Kumar said because the Indian government had knowledge of Naik’s whereabouts, the legal procedures would be tailored to requirements between the two countries in their extradition treaty.

Advocate challenges charges

“Naik is being hounded because he hails from a minority community. The charges that the investigating agencies are trying to frame are all stale and are hardly incriminating,” advocate S. Hariharan told BenarNews in a phone interview from Delhi.

“The charges lack veracity and would not stand scrutiny in the court of law. We will be challenging the extradition and deportation.”

Last week, the Indian government filed a 61-page charge sheet against Naik alleging he was involved in a criminal conspiracy by lauding terrorist organizations. In April, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in an alleged case of money laundering through his NGO and a shell company.

In Malaysia meanwhile, the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the government to ignore any request from India to extradite Zakir Naik, Reuters reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wrote last week in an opinion piece published in Harakah Daily.(BenarNews)