Bangladeshi atheist blogger Washiqur Rahman was killed by men with machetes in the capital city, Dhaka, on Monday.
This is the second such attack this year. He was 27 years old.
According to Agence France-Presse, the men attacked Rahman on the street just 500 yards away from his home. Police reported that the assailants “hacked him in his head and neck with big knives and once he fell on the ground they then hacked his body.”
Rahman was among a small group of writers labeled as “atheist bloggers,” who voice outspoken opposition to Islamic extremism and what they see as an undue religious influence in Bangladeshi society.
His death follows the murder in late February of Avijit Roy, an American citizen of Bangladeshi descent. Another irreligious writer and blogger, he was visiting Dhaka to promote a book he wrote. He was killed by men with machetes on a street corner near Dhaka University, whose campus culture includes vehement Islamist student groups. (RELATED: The Story Behind The US Writer Macheted To Death In Bangladesh)
One man has been arrested so far in connection with Roy’s death. His widow was also injured in the attack but survived.
Police took two men into custody Monday following Rahman’s death, both students at Islamic schools. The suspects told police that while an acquaintance told them to kill Rahman because of anti-Islam comments, “they had not read the comments themselves,” The New York Times reported.
The students are members of a politically Islamist student group called the Islami Chhatra Shibir. The group has also been linked to the 2013 death of yet another writer, Ahmed Rajib Haider.
Bangladesh’s “atheist bloggers” first came to national prominence after a war crimes tribunal convicted an Islamist leader, Abdul Quader Molla, in 2013 for atrocities in the country’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Haider and his fellow activists insisted that Molla deserved the death penalty rather than life in prison, instigating a nationwide protest movement.
Bangladesh’s population is over 90 percent Muslim. Its constitution establishes Islam as the state religion but allows free practice of non-Muslim religions.
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