Killings of bloggers raise serious questions about freethinking

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Another secular blogger killed in Bangladesh
Another secular blogger killed in Bangladesh

In the last four months, three atheist bloggers have been killed in the officially secular Bangladesh, for promoting many views and values relating to science, freethinking and secularism, which were deemed blasphemous by certain religious fundamentalist sections of the society. After Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman, who were brutally hacked to death earlier this year, Ananta Bijoy Das’s murder recently is the latest case of progressive writers being targeted and destroyed in Bangladesh. Ananta Bijoy Das, 32, wrote for Mukto-Mona (meaning “free thinkers”), a website founded by Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death in February, seemingly by the same fanatics who slaughtered  Das. In a series of blog posts, he wrote about science, rationalism and evolution, criticized several aspects of Islam and Hinduism and put forward very broad-minded ideas. He was the editor of a local science magazine, Jukti (“Reason”), and wrote several books, including one work on Charles Darwin.

If sources are to be believed, he had received death threats from an Islamic extremist group several times. On Tuesday, a group of assailants wearing masks and carrying machetes, followed Ananta Das as he was going to a local bank to work, chased him down the street and finally attacked him and then fled the scene. Das was rushed to hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.

Sometime back, hardcore Islamists of the country brought forward a demand to the government to bring out a blasphemy law to halt liberal writers from blogging about Islamic religion. Secularism is slowly becoming something that is confined to the books and in reality fundamental religious dogmas is creeping into the country’s political and social reality. The murders of the three bloggers definitely ascertain this. Three deaths in a row may give motivation for the free thinkers to raise their voice, or this may dread them and silence them. Only time can tell.

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