Citizens organized a march in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to protest the murder of American atheist blogger Avijit Roy. He was hacked to death with machetes after he received numerous threats from radical Islamists.
Roy, who was of Bangladeshi origin, founded the blog Mukto-Mona, which means “Free-Mind,” and “champion[ed] liberal secular writing in the Muslim-majority nation.” The attackers also injured his wife.
“He died as he was brought to the hospital,” police chief Sirajul Islam told the media. “His wife was also seriously wounded. She has lost a finger.”
The protesters chanted “We want justice” and “Raise your voice against militants.”
“The attack on Roy and his wife Rafida Ahmed is outrageous,” said Imran H Sarker, who is the head of a Bangladeshi bloggers’ association. “We strongly protest this attack and are deeply concerned about the safety of writers.”
The police found the machetes used in the attack. Forensics will inspect the blades to compare them to the death of secular blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider. Radical Islamists hacked him to death in early 2013, “which was blamed on religious hardliners, sparked protests from free-speech supporters and counter-protests from Islamists.”
“Avijit’s killing once again proved that there is a culture of impunity in the country,” said Sarker. “The government must arrest the killers in 24 hours or face non-stop protests.”
No one took credit for the attack, but police are investigating a group “that praised the killing.” Roy and his wife attended a book festival in Dhaka when two people ambushed them. The two were dragged off their bicycles onto the pavement when the attackers hacked them with the machetes.
“This is the handiwork of a professional,” said Dr. Sohel Mahmud, Dhaka Medical College Forensic Department’s assistant professor. “They knew where to hit to kill a man. They were very skilled and ferocious.”
He also said the attack needed “planning, skill and brutality.” Roy’s father said his son received many threats on email and messages on social media. Roy talked about the threats when his last book, The Virus of Faith, debuted at a book fair. From the BBC:
“The death threats started flowing to my e-mail inbox on a regular basis,” he writes.
“I suddenly found myself a target of militant Islamists and terrorists. A well-known extremist… openly issued death threats to me through his numerous Facebook entries.
“In one widely circulated status, he writes, ‘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.'”