Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger was killed the evening of February 26 while walking through Dhaka. He was returning from a book fair when he was approached by assailants wielding machetes.
Mr. Roy is known for his outspoken secular stance, his skepticism concerning religious belief, and his opposition to religion in politics. He is the author of several books and founded the blog Mukto-Mona, the Bengali words for “Free Mind.” He faced numerous death threats in the past for his public stance on issues related to science and religion.
The vicious attack on Avijit Roy sparked international outrage. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki condemned the brutal murder “in the strongest terms,” calling it “horrific in its brutality and cowardice.” Referring to Mr. Roy as “a journalist, a humanist, a husband, and a friend,” Ms. Psaki extended the U.S. government’s condolences to his friends and family. She also emphasized that his murder “was not just an attack on a person, but a cowardly assault on the universal principles enshrined in Bangladesh's constitution and the country's proud tradition of free intellectual and religious discourse.”
On March 2, Bangladeshi police arrested a suspect with a history of violent extremist views. Authorities are tracing possible connections to extremist groups. That same day hundreds of Bangladeshis gathered to mourn Mr. Roy’s death and pay tribute to the Dhaka-native. Mourners gathered at Dhaka University and at the spot Mr. Roy was murdered to pay their respects, demand justice, and to denounce violent extremism.
Mr. Roy’s legacy will continue to inspire the people of both his home and adopted countries. The United States and Bangladesh will continue to cooperate closely to counter the violent extremism that Mr. Roy firmly stood against. This commitment was demonstrated recently when Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali attended the Countering Violent Extremism Summit hosted by President Obama. He met with Secretary Kerry and discussed a range of issues, including the need to protect Bangladesh’s fundamental freedoms. As
President Barack Obama stated in his recent L.A. Times op-ed, “Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds,” and that “it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity.”