Blogging is a dangerous activity. So dangerous that it can cost you your life—more so, if you happen to be a resident of Bangladesh and write about religious extremism. Certain Islamist groups have even called for the public killing of atheist bloggers and sought new laws to deal with any writing that is critical of Islam. And some fanatics are acting on this call.
Washiqur Rahman—who worked in a travel agency as an infotech manager—was stabbed to death for his ‘atheist’ views, just a few hundred metres away from his home on 30 March in Dhaka. Two people have been arrested so far, while a third alleged accomplice is said to be absconding. The two arrested men said they drew up the murder plan on 29 March. Three blood-stained cleavers were recovered from the site of the attack. Rahman’s murder is the third such incident of bloggers being bludgeoned for their views on religion in the past two years in Bangladesh. The attacks have all been similar.
In February this year, blogger Avijit Roy and his wife Rafida Ahmed were attacked with machetes on the Dhaka University campus. While Roy succumbed to his injuries, his wife survived. The incident sparked massive outrage. People spoke about how the Bangladesh government was not doing anything substantive to protect the rights of bloggers.
In February 2013, blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was hacked to death in front of his house. Members of a little-known Islamist militant group were said to be behind his murder. Bangladesh is the world’s fourth-largest Muslim- majority country in the world—with adherents of Islam constituting 90 per cent of its 160 million odd people. The recent violence highlights the country’s struggle to resolve conflicts over the role of religion in public life.