Beliefs

Atheists mourn the slaying of a second Bangladeshi blogger in a month

The Bangladesh national flag waves in front of a cloudy sky.
The Bangladesh national flag waves in front of a cloudy sky.

Photo courtesy of Akash Islam at Bengali Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bangladesh national flag waves in front of a cloudy sky.

(RNS) Atheists, humanists and other nonbelievers are speaking out against the brutal slaying of an atheist blogger in Bangladesh, the second such killing in a month.

Washiqur Rahman, 27, was attacked and killed Monday morning (March 30) in the capital city of Dhaka by three men wielding knives or other sharp weapons. Police say they have two suspects in custody, both students at religious schools.

The attack comes a month after the machete slaying of Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger, in the same city. Roy, who was 42, was the founder of the Mukto-Mona, or “Free-Mind,” blog that promoted secularism in the Muslim-majority country.

Rahman had expressed support for Roy and his work on social media, attracting the attention of extremists.

“Violent Islamic extremists think they will scare their critics into silence and submission,” said Paul Fidalgo, communications director of the Center for Inquiry, a U.S.-based secular advocacy organization that has worked with Bangladeshi bloggers on issues of free speech.

But, he added in a statement, “their barbarity will only serve to strengthen the unity and resolve of those who believe in the fundamental right to free expression, which includes the right to criticize, question, and reject religion.”

The American Humanist Association, an advocacy organization for nonbelievers, also condemned the attacks.

“The vicious nature of these two murders underscores the oppression and harassment faced by humanists around the world,” its communications director, Maggie Ardiente, said in a statement.

Rahman’s death comes as American Atheists prepares to welcome Ayaan Hirsi Ali as keynote speaker at its annual convention in Memphis, Tenn., April 2-5.

Ali, an atheist, was working on a documentary critical of Islam with Theo van Gogh when he was killed by an extremist in 2004. Asif Mohiuddin, another Bangladeshi blogger who has been critical of religion in his country, will be a featured speaker there as well.

Both have received death threats for their work, said Danielle Muscato, an American Atheists spokeswoman.

“We are unashamedly intolerant — intolerant of murder, intolerant of the message this terrorism sends to other atheists in Bangladesh and around the world, and intolerant of the fact that bigotry is protected by theocrats here in America,” Muscato said.

Mohiuddin survived an attack in 2013 and knew Rahman.

“I liked him for his satire, his sense of humor,” Mohiuddin told the BBC. “He was a wonderful blogger and I’m very … upset right now.”

Rory Fenton, a British atheist and activist, recently visited Bangladesh and found atheist writers there willing to speak out after Roy’s death. But Rahman’s slaying, Fenton wrote in The Independent, may have a chilling effect. Unlike Roy, Rahman was not well-known, and it was his support of Roy’s work — not his own statements — that seems to have sparked the attack.

“The message sent by his murder was clear,” Fenton wrote. “‘This is beyond just insulting the Prophet. They don’t want anyone to question any authority, it doesn’t even have to be insulting; they will silence you.'”

YS/MG END WINSTON

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

21 Comments

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  • “their barbarity will only serve to strengthen the unity and resolve of those who believe in the fundamental right to free expression, which includes the right to criticize, question, and reject religion.”

    The religious claim for themselves the right to speak
    yet forbid it from anyone else. What could be more uncivilized?
    What good are these claims about ‘real’ gods except to grant permission to kill and be divisive over nothings?

    It is not enough that these religions demand respect. They insist that their God’s laws be followed by everyone else, too. Non-belief is harmless.
    But belief in gods – that seems to be where the danger is.

  • Tomorrow, perhaps? Dream on. Haven’t ya heard of “there is no such thing as bad publicity”.

  • BB,

    ” locked up in mental institutions from the insanity produced from a godless society…”

    None of this is sanity:

    “Zombies walked for Jesus to raise awareness..” – (Matthew 27:52)
    “Execute them”- JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    “Hate Them” – JESUS (Luke 14:26)
    “Avoid Them” – ROMANS (16:17)
    “Do not associate with the GUILTY..” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
    “Bad company….” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
    “Do not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
    “Do not receive him…or greet him..” (2 John 1:10)
    “tell him his fault.” (Matthew 18:15)
    “Have nothing to do with him!” (Titus 3:9-11)
    “LET HIM BE REMOVED” (1 Corinthians 1:13)
    “In the name of Jesus..keep away from him!” (2 Thess 3:6)
    “CURSE HIM” – (1 Cor. 16:22)
    “Deem them unworthy” – JESUS (Matt 10:13)

    Religion is hatred on steroids; it kills everyone off
    then believers wonder why there is no love in the world.

    Religion is a…

  • “[P]eople don’t physically assault atheists in religious communities for being atheist.”
    –RNS writer Eliel Cruz, tweeting about a day after the murder of the previous victim, Avijit Roy.

  • James –

    I am a believer in Jesus Christ now! Thanks for your help in getting me to see the light. The Holy Spirit will not be mocked!
    You have convinced me to look deeper. I fell on my knees and begged Jesus to show me and he did – HE IS REAL!
    Praise the Holy Spirit. Thank God it happened during HOLY WEEK!

    It isn’t too late for my soul. I’m saved. Jesus told me so in my heart!
    I have opened up my heart to the Lord – woe to those who do not see!
    I’m so glad it happened today of all days!

  • Yes. It was infinitesimally small compared to the killings of tens of millions of humans engaged in by atheists in the war torn 20th century.

  • You just compared what you believe to be myth and fairy tale to what Be Brave showed was happening right now. Proving of course that godless secularism is a more like a plague of sickness than an enlightening of the mind.

    Oops.

  • Nobody was killed by an Atheist in the 20th Century.
    Agrarian Cults like Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao were not examples of Atheism.
    Hitler followed Catholicism perfectly like the good Christian he was – that is not Atheism.

    Atheism is what you live by – your Constitution is an Atheist Constitution:
    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion…”

    You owe all of your freedom to Atheism.
    Get over it.

  • Religion is an attack on humanity.
    Human beings would behave with more civility toward each other if one group of Bullies weren’t running around with Jesus Christ’s hatreds all over the place:

    “Deem them unworthy” – JESUS (Matt 10:13)

    This is shameful, uncivilized nonsense.
    Thankfully the younger generations are waking up to the horrid untruth of the Bible and the bullying clerics who want nothing to do with civilization.

  • @James,

    Hitler was the greatest Catholic who ever lived – he followed Jesus better than any other Catholic in history:

    Hitler was a Catholic and his SS were sworn Catholics and Christians, hailed allegiance to the Fuhrer (father) under God, demanded faith in the Divine Catholic Aryan Race and demanded each Nazi wore the belt buckle which read ‘God on our side’ (“Gott Mit Uns”).
    Hitler’s first peace treaty the Vatican Koncordat of 1933 where he and the church swore allegiance to each other!
    Hitler chose the Bishops for Germany. The Church still HONORS HITLER’S KONCORDAT to this day!
    Hitler’s hatred of Jews was entirely founded on Jesus.
    And the writings of Martin Luther declared Christ ‘his model of the great soldier’ fighting against the evil Jews. (Mein Kampf) His favorite words of Jesus ended the Parable of the Minas; “Execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)
    All of it driven by his deep faith in God.

    That is not Atheism – it is Catholicism.

  • James,

    It is pathetic that Christianity claims itself to be the religion of Peace while it demands death and shame to other humans.
    “Hate Them” – JESUS (Luke 14:26)
    “Avoid Them” – ROMANS (16:17)
    “Do not associate with the GUILTY..” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
    “Bad company….” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
    “Do not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
    “Do not receive him…or greet him..” (2 John 1:10)
    “tell him his fault.” (Matthew 18:15)
    “Have nothing to do with him!” (Titus 3:9-11)
    “LET HIM BE REMOVED” (1 Corinthians 1:13)
    “In the name of Jesus..keep away from him!” (2 Thess 3:6)
    “CURSE HIM” – (1 Cor. 16:22)
    “Deem them unworthy” – JESUS (Matt 10:13)

    Where is the ‘non-judgement’ in any of this?
    Christianity is Totalitarianist Hypocrisy – it is an absolutist claim eternally at war with itself!

  • Max, could you bore us all with your fairytales one more time? Go color some eggs or something………it’s gay and pagan….!

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