In Bangladesh, the killing of secular bloggers who criticize what they consider religious extremism and violence continues. On August 7 Niladry Chattopadhyay was hacked to death at his home by assailants using machetes and cleavers.
The Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star reported that a group called Ansar al Islam claimed responsibility for the killing in an email; Bangladeshi authorities have not verified the authenticity of that claim.
Mr. Chattopadhyay, who blogged under the alias Niloy Neel, was the fourth secular-minded blogger murdered in Bangladesh in a similarly brutal manner since the beginning of 2015. In February Bangladeshi-born American blogger Avijit Roy, who created the platform Muktomona, or “Free Thinkers,” was hacked to death as he walked back from a book fair in Dhaka.
In March, Washiqur Rahman, who wrote in support of Avijit Roy and in opposition to religious extremism, was similarly murdered; in May blogger Ananta Bijoy Das, who was critical of Islamic fundamentalism and also contributed to Muktomona, was hacked to death on his way to work at a bank.
Mr. Chattopadhyay, who was a contributor to Muktomona as well, advocated for women’s rights in his writing and denounced extremism. In an interview with National Public Radio, Imran Sarker, head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, called Mr. Chattopadhyay [“a voice for the oppressed,” whose name had been on a hit list of targets supposedly made public by Islamist extremists.
Bangladesh, as the U.S. State Department has declared, has a “proud tradition of free intellectual and religious discourse.” The savage murder of bloggers is an attempt to destroy that tradition, and constitutes an assault on the universal principles enshrined in Bangladesh’s constitution.
In condemning Mr. Chattopadhyay’s murder, the State Department noted that “This heinous act once again underscores the need to work together to counter violent extremism. We stand with Bangladeshis who reject this vicious act and who work to protect space for freedom of expression.” To date, no one has been prosecuted for these four murders.