Publishers, writers, and bloggers in Bangladesh have had enough of their colleagues being executed simply for expressing secular beliefs and critiquing Islam.
Hundreds stormed into the capital city of Dhaka on Monday to show dissatisfaction with the government over its failure to protect its citizens. Many burned books as a symbol of their discontent, others closed their businesses in a show of solidarity with the slain innocents.
On Saturday, Faisal Abedin Deepan, a secular publisher, was “hacked to death” by Islamic extremists in Dhaka, according to reports.
Deepan had published books by Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American secular writer who was known to critique Islam. The Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for killing Deepan.
In a separate attack on the same day, two secular bloggers and a publisher were injured in an attack claimed by al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). In a statement, the jihadi group called the victims “atheists and blasphemers,” the Times of India reported.
“This is not an isolated incident. They first started killing authors, then the bloggers and now they’ve targeted the publishers,” Mustafa Selim, who leads the Bangladesh Creative Publishers Society, said at the protest.
Another publisher, Mohiuddin Ahmed, added: “The people who have so far fallen victim to the attacks are thinking people, those who believe in freedom of expression, and those who believe in secular values.”
“A series of killings have taken place but now the focus is on publishers… I feel absolutely traumatised,” said Ahmed.
Farid Ahmed, a publisher who said that he has received death threats over his work, told AFP: “The murderers should be caught as soon as possible. There must be an end to this nightmare.”
Four other atheist bloggers have been killed so far this year in Bangladesh. An Italian and Japanese worker have also been executed by Islamic radicals.
The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for some of the killings, but the Bangladesh government has rejected that the group exists within its borders.