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Third Secular Blogger Hacked to Death in Last Three Months

Bangladesh prime minister too busy dealing with political disorder


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A third secular writer in Bangladesh in the last three months has been murdered as political violence by radical Islamists in the country is increasing. Ananta Das was attacked by four masked men armed with cleavers, who hacked him to death. The Economist describes him as "perhaps less a provocateur" than the previous two writers killed in Bangladesh—first Avijit Roy, author of Virus of Faith, who lived in the U.S. but returned to Bangladesh for a book fair, was hacked to death, and then 27-year-old Washiqur Rahman, who mocked conservative Islamists and insisted they couldn't stop free thought in his country.

Das' last blog post ended with a quote from an essay he edited for his quarterly magazine Jukti, which is translated variously as logic, argument, or reason.  Via The Atlantic:

No one with a free mind can be indoctrinated in regional fundamentalism or limit themselves within the walls of narrow-mindedness. The world is very large, but our well-behaved hypocrites are still quite primitive, it's time for them to crawl out of the well and view our enormous universe from a new perspective. All of us are human, and all of us are Bangladeshi Bengalis—how long will it take the people of Sylhet [Das' hometown] to understand this simple truth?

As The Economist explains, writers like Das were worried about the Bangladesh government colluding with Islamists. Three years ago, he helped start a movement demanding the death penalty for Islamist war criminals convicted for their roles in the 1971 civil war. In 2013, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, a leader of the largest Islamist party in Bangladesh, was convicted on eight war crimes counts related to the civil war and was sentenced to death. Islamist counterprotests were so powerful the government, which had attempted to latch on in part to the anti-Islamist movement and position itself as a "secular" government, moved instead closer to the Islamists.  Sayeedi's punishment was reduced to life in prison last year. The prime minister's son says she's too busy keeping Bangladesh from falling apart to worry about writers being hacked to death for challenging the influence of radical Islamism on the secular society those writers hoped to build and foster.