Using religion in the attempt to resist freethinking

I’m looking to see how much news coverage the murder of Avijit Roy is getting outside Bangladesh. A Google News search turns up items at Fox News’s blog, the Daily Mail, CNN’s blog, and a few more…so it’s not as much as it should be.

The New York Times reported Friday, with some details I hadn’t seen before.

A Bangladeshi-American blogger known for his antipathy to religion was hacked to death on the street in this capital city by two assailants wielding machetes, the police said on Friday.

The victim, Avijit Roy, 42, was leaving a book fair with his wife Thursday evening when his attackers approached him from behind, according to the police. His wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, 45, suffered a blow to the head and was in critical condition in a Dhaka hospital, said Sirajul Islam, an officer at the Shahbag police station, where Mr. Roy’s father reported the assault.

Jibon Ahmed, a photographer for a local photo agency, said by phone that he heard screams outside the fair around 9 p.m. After finding the couple, he said, he helped them into an auto-rickshaw and took them to the hospital, where Mr. Roy died.

The police have not named any suspects, but Mr. Islam said that witnesses had provided descriptions of the attackers. Officers recovered two bloodied machetes from the scene of the crime.

The reporters are Julfikar Ali Manik and Nida Najar, so perhaps reporting from Dhaka.

Mr. Roy was a prolific writer on secularism and condemned religious extremism, particularly through his blog, Mukto-Mona, the Bengali words for Free Mind. He also wrote on the website of the Center for Inquiry, an organization based in the United States dedicated to humanist thinking and critiques of religion.

In a recent article, Mr. Roy described the release of his 2014 book, “Biswasher Virus,” or “The Virus of Faith.”

“The death threats started flowing to my email inbox on a regular basis,” he wrote, describing reaction after the book came out. One extremist, he wrote, “issued death threats to me through his numerous Facebook statuses.” In one, the extremist wrote: “Avijit Roy lives in America and so it is not possible to kill him right now. But he will be murdered when he comes back.”

Michael De Dora, the director of the Center for Inquiry’s office of public policy, reacted to news of Mr. Roy’s death in a statement on the center’s website.

I don’t want martyrs. I want people who live long happy lives writing books and being there for their friends. I’m just saying.

Activists and intellectuals gathered at Dhaka University on Friday to protest Mr. Roy’s death and demand action against those responsible.

Parvez Alam, a Bangladeshi blogger who has written for Mukto-Mona, described Mr. Roy as “one of the most talented writers of our country.”

“This has been going on in Bangladesh,” he said by telephone. “The bloggers have different religious viewpoints and we’re being attacked again and again, and we’re not getting justice.”

“Using religion in the attempt to resist freethinking will not be accepted,” Khushi Kabir, a rights campaigner, told The Dhaka Tribune.

We don’t want martyrdom. We want to keep talking.


  1. says

    There was a small piece in yesterday’s London Times in one of the inside pages. I have to say I’d never heard of him until this terrible thing happened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *