Bystanders stared impassively

The Independent has more details on the attack on Avijit Roy and Rafida Ahmed Banna.

Dr Roy, of Bangladeshi origin but a US citizen, and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, were walking home from a book festival at 8.45pm on Thursday when a mob armed with machetes ambushed them. Photographs posted online showed three youths, who had made no attempt to disguise their appearance, attempting to hack Dr Roy’s head from his body. Others showed him lying lifelessly, his face in a pool of blood, while his wife – her face and clothes streaked with blood – appealed for help. Bystanders stared impassively at the writer’s body. [Read more…]

Nothing new in Bangladesh

The BBC reports on the murder of Avijit Roy and what it means for Bangladesh and other dissenters.

Hundreds of people gathered in Dhaka to mourn the blogger’s death.

Mr Roy’s family say he received threats after publishing articles promoting secular views, science and social issues on his Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona (Free Mind).

He defended atheism in a recent Facebook post, calling it a “rational concept to oppose any unscientific and irrational belief”.

His Mukto-mona website on Friday bore the message in Bengali “we are grieving but we shall overcome” against a black background.

[Read more…]

Guest post: And I always think to myself, why is that accepted?

Guest post by Josh the SpokesGay

I’ve got something to say about ageism and Madonna. I’m looking at you, my feminist friends. For the moment, please put aside how much you totally hate her (or think she can do no wrong) and consider this on its own.

Madonna is right when she complains about sexist ageism in the Rolling Stone article. Full stop. She’s right. And most of you agree with that, even though many of you couldn’t get past the ham-handed way she said it.

“No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black or dare to say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay,” Madonna continues. “But my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What’s the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination? They’re judging me by my age. I don’t understand. I’m trying to get my head around it. Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they’re not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don’t follow the rules. I never did, and I’m not going to start.”

Ham-handed, yes. Lots of people would, in fact, say something degrading about being black or gay. But what I’m pretty confident Madonna is getting at (spare me the charge of trying to massage her words because I’m just a huge fan; boring) is that the kind of people in polite society who would, in fact, never dare to criticize a performer for being black or gay will do so on the basis of that performer being a woman. That is a plain fact. I’ve been noticing this for years and commenting on it for years, often here at Butterflies and Wheels. [Read more…]

Nothing new in Bangladesh

The newspaper The Hindu talked to Taslima about the murder of Avijit Roy.

 “It was Avijit’s criticism of all kinds of religious fundamentalism including Islamic fundamentalism that may have been the cause behind the murder,”Ms. Nasreen, who knew Mr. Roy for about two decades, told TheHindu.  She also said that such attacks on writers “is nothing new” in Bangladesh.

 “There is no freedom of speech in Bangladesh. Such murders of writers had taken place there before,” she added. In 2013, another blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider who advocated secularism, was allegedly murdered by extremist elements. In 2004 writer Humayun Azad was attacked near the Dhaka University campus, during the book fair. He later died mysteriously in his apartment in Germany.

The Hindu also quotes Bengali film director Gautam Ghosh.

 “The incident indicates that all kinds of tolerance, whether religious or political, were decreasing. Such attacks are attempts to muzzle the voice of free thinkers,” he said. The social media in Bengal and across the world condemned the incident.

 Ganamancha, a platform of leftist activists, claimed that the “religious fundamentalists” in Bangladesh carried out the attack. “Rationalist activities are increasingly coming under attack in the South-Asian sub-continent as was seen in the assassination of Govind Panasare (senior Communist Party of India leader) and Narendra Dabholkar (noted rationalist) by extremists in India,” said a statement issued by Ganamancha.

Theocrats on a rampage.

Maybe we crossed a line

Padraig Reidy wrote about rights as opposed to responsibilities at Index on Censorship a few days ago.

How does one avoid being a potential target for murder by a jihadist? If you’re Jewish, you probably can’t, unless you attempt to somehow stop being Jewish (though I suspect, much like the proto-nazi mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, IS reserves the right to decide who is a Jew).

Everyone else? Well, we can be a little quieter. We can, perhaps, not hold meetings with people who have drawn pictures of Mohammed. We can, perhaps, recognise that the right to free speech comes with responsibilities, as The Guardian’s Hugh Muir wrote. The responsibility to be respectful; the responsibility not to provoke; the responsibility not to get our fool selves shot in our thick heads. [Read more…]

The secular government reacted by arresting some atheist bloggers

People in Bangladesh are fighting back.

The couple were on a bicycle rickshaw, returning from a book fair, when two assailants stopped and dragged them on to the pavement before striking them with machetes, local media reported, citing witnesses.

Hundreds of protesters rallied in Dhaka to denounce the murder, chanting slogans including “we want justice” and “raise your voice against militants”.

Imran Sarker, the head of the Bangladesh bloggers’ association, said the protests would continue until those responsible were apprehended. “Avijit’s killing once again proved that there is a culture of impunity in the country,” Sarker told Agence France-Presse. “The government must arrest the killers in 24 hours or face non-stop protests.”

[Read more…]

No action taken

The IHEU on the murder of Avijit Roy and the potentially lethal attack on Rafida Ahmed Bonna.

“Abhijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. He will be murdered when he comes back.”

These were the words of an Islamist activist referring to Avijit (or Abhijit) Roy early last year. The man making the threat, who is well-known to the authorities, has repeatedly and openly talked about wanting to see secular and freethought writers dead, and those under threat have complained that authorities have ignored his threats and incitement, despite his credible links to Islamist extremists and similar murders taking place. [Read more…]