Hundreds of students in Bangladesh held a protest after a student blogger was hacked to death with a machete by suspected Islamists.
The writer was shot to death and hacked with a machete by three men on a single motorcycle as he was walking with a friend on a street in Bangladesh’s capital.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nurul Amin said it is believed that 28-year-old Nazimuddin Samad was a target as a result of his outspoken atheism while living in a mainly Muslim country, as well as his support of a 2013 movement demanding capital punishment for war crimes concerning the independence war against Pakistan in 1971.
While no group has officially claimed responsibility for the incident, it is believed to be the work of radical Islamists. The men were seen leaving the scene shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or “Allah is great.”
Students of the state-run Jagannath University, where Samad was studying law, as well as his friends gathered for a rally on campus, blocking roads in and around the school. The protestors argued that the inaction of police contributed to the death of Samad.
“This is very sad for us. We are trying whatever we can do to support the family during such difficult time,” university proctor Nur Mohammad said.
There has also been an outpouring of emotions on his Facebook page, as people posted messages to him such as “Friend, please pardon us. You were, you are, you will be (with us).”
The majority of the posts on Samad’s blog dealt with promoting secularism while simultaneously criticizing radical Islam. Samad was an avid supporter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s secular Awami League party, and as such took part in the movement that successfully sought to have more power given to prosecutors to allow them to go after suspected war criminals.
The government has been hard at work dealing with radical Islamist groups, who they say are responsible for the deaths last year of five secular bloggers, including minority Shiites, Christians, and two foreigners. In addition, it is arguing that its opposition is supporting religious radicals in an effort to get back at the government for the prosecution of suspected war crimes, reports Jason Thomson for The Christian Science Monitor.
Although responsibility for some of those attacks has been claimed by the Islamic State group, the government does not believe this to be the case and has dismissed those claims, saying the group is not present in the country.
Meanwhile, two international groups that believe in freedom of expression argue that the attacks are proof that the government is not doing its job protecting its citizens.
“We urge the Bangladeshi police and other authorities to do everything in their power to investigate and prosecute this vicious attack on free speech and thought, and halt this terrible pattern of murders,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar of PEN America, a group of 4,400 U.S. writers.
She went on to say that the US and other countries should work to provide writers and secularists being targeted in Bangladesh with refuge, calling Samad’s killing a “cruel illustration of the costs of inaction.”
The Center for Inquiry has also expressed their concern over the situation, saying the government needs to “do much more to protect its own people from marauding Islamist killers.”
“These murders keep happening because they are allowed to happen,” said the center’s public policy director, Michael De Dora.