Relaymedia

Fourth Bangladeshi Blogger Hacked to Death by Muslim Extremists for Criticizing Islam

( [email protected] ) Aug 07, 2015 03:45 PM EDT
A group of Islamic extremists armed with machetes hacked a secular blogger to death at his home in Dhaka because he posted online pieces critical of Islam, marking the fourth such murder in Bangladesh since January.
Ashamoni, wife of blogger Niloy Chakrabati, cries at her house in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday after her blogger husband was hacked to death by suspected Islamist extremists. AP photo

A group of Islamic extremists armed with machetes hacked a secular blogger to death at his home in Dhaka because he posted online pieces critical of Islam, marking the fourth such murder in Bangladesh since January.

Niloy Chatterjee, who used the pen-name, Niloy Neel, was murdered on Friday after a group of six men broke into his flat in the capital's Goran neighborhood, the AFP reports. 

"They entered his room in the fifth floor and shoved his friend aside and then hacked him to death. He was a listed target of the Islamist militants," Imran H. Sarker, head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, told the news source.

"We are speechless. He was demanding justice for the killing of other bloggers," he added. "Who will be next for demanding justice for Niloy?"

The Daily Star reports that Ansar al-Islam, a local chapter of Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda, has since claimed responsibility for the murder in an email sent to media houses in Bangladesh.

It is believed the 40-year-old blogger was targeted because he had in the past written posts condemning the recent killings of three other bloggers in his country and regularly posted on women's and minority rights, communal violence and the oppression of Hindus in Bangladesh.

"He was the voice against fundamentalism and extremism and was even a voice for minority rights - especially women's rights and the rights of indigenous people," Sarker told the BBC.

Neel's death is the latest in a string of violent murders carried out by Muslim extremists aimed at silencing dissent. In May, secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was killed by masked, machete-wielding men in Sylhet after receiving death threats from Islamist extremists.

In March, another blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was hacked to death in Dhaka, and blogger Avijit Roy, who advocated atheism and homosexuality in his writing, was killed in Dhaka in February.

Sarker told the BBC that all four victims had been on a list of 84 "atheist bloggers" drawn up and widely circulated by Islamic groups in 2013.

The British Humanist Association said Neel's murder, however, "shows a new degree of daring on the part of extremists in Bangladesh," as it was carried out in his own home rather than on the street.

"This latest murder demonstrates once again if further proof were needed that the culture of impunity for these Islamist vigilantes in Bangladesh has become firmly entrenched," said chief executive Andrew Copson.

Rights group Amnesty International on Friday called on Bangladesh's government to send a strong message that such murders are "despicable" and will not be tolerated.

"This spate of savage killings must end here," said David Griffiths, South Asia research director at Amnesty International.

"There is little doubt that these especially brutal killings are designed to sow fear and to have a chilling effect on free speech. This is unacceptable."