Today in Dhaka the blogger and satirist Washiqur Rahman was murdered not 500 yards from his house with meat cleavers in a brutal attack resembling those upon Washiqur’s fellow bloggers Avijit Roy in February and Ahmed Rajib Haider in 2013.
Following Avijit’s death, campaigners in Bangladesh and around the world called on Bangladesh to do more to protect its humanist bloggers. In addition to Washiqur, Avijit, and Ahmed, who all died as a consequence of expressing non-religious beliefs and criticising religious power, various others such as Asif Mohiuddin were attacked and left with potentially fatal wounds.
The Bangladeshi writer and exile Taslima Nasrin paid her respects to Washiqur via Twitter. In her comment, she warned that ‘Bangladesh is not a place for freethinkers.’
There are growing calls on Bangladesh to legislate to prevent further blasphemy-related reprisals. Earlier this month, the British Humanist Association (BHA) raised the issue of reprisals against perceived blasphemers to the UN Human Rights Council, urging states to explicitly outlaw such attacks amid a wave of violence targeting the non-religious around the world. Blasphemy-related killings have very low prosecution and arrest rates, and there is a strong perception that those who kill for blasphemy are able to act with impunity.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Our thoughts are with Washiqur’s friends and loved ones throughout this harrowing ordeal. Once again, Bangladesh has lost a son, this time a satirist who criticised religious fundamentalism. How much more blood must be shed before Bangladesh will take action to protect its citizens? Bloody reprisals in response to perceived blasphemy have become an endemic problem, and states like Bangladesh must affirm the human right to express one’s own beliefs without fear of attack, and do more to prevent such attacks from happening in future.’
For further comment or information, please contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07534 248596.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.