Intro: Is it not the time that mullahs should take a good look at themselves and analyse their behaviour and see how they fit in the modern world?
Another most barbaric, most heinous crime has been committed by religious fanatics in the name of religion in full public view on the street of Dhaka. Dr Avijit Kumar Roy, a Bioengineer presently working as software engineering in the USA, had been brutally murdered as he and his wife were going home on February 26 after attending the Ekushey Book Fair and launching his newly published books. They were attacked by two or three assailants with machetes. The Coroner of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, only a short distance away from the crime scene, testified that the attack was an act of a professional killer. Two deep rooted stabs at the back of the skull were so severe that the victim died within a short time from severe bleeding. His wife had also been attacked and she is now in critical condition.
So what did Avijit Roy, a software engineer, an author and a blogger, do to warrant such ire of the murderous man? Avijit Roy and his Muslim wife came to Bangladesh from America only a week earlier with the specific purpose of launching his books on Biswasher Virus (Virus of Faith) and Sunyo theke Mahabiswa (From Vacuum to the Universe) in the Ekushey Book Fair. The Virus of Faith was his latest book. The content of the book, The Virus of Faith was nothing new and no derogatory comment to Islam in particular is present. It deals with the overall obsessive behaviour with spiritual or divine doctrinaire, which may be dubbed as the spell, which leads people to become numinous and obsessive. This numinosity was not restricted to any particular religion; it is prevalent to all religions and to all religious minded people.
Avijit Roy took up this theme and elaborated it in his book. It is simply a hypothesis, which can be applied to all other spheres of human activity, besides religion. For example, when someone falls in love, madly in love; to him or her love is the only thing that matters in life at that time. Quite often, the boy would say that he will not live without her. His brain signal has become so strong and manipulative that all other competing signals, such as physical needs, social pressure etc. have become temporarily dysfunctional. Another example may be that occasionally a man may become totally obsessed with money. He wants more and more money, which we may call greed. He would want more money than he can possibly spend in his lifetime; but that does not stop him from wanting more.
The Islamic fundamentalists found this sort of articulation in his book too much to tolerate, although there was nothing particularly against Islam. This virus of faith can grow in any religion. Indeed, when it does grow it produces corresponding pool of fundamentalists. So why did the Islamic fanatics took such a strong exception to this idea as to warrant the termination of his life? Has life become so cheap to them that they can eliminate it at their pleasure. Or they feel that they are so strong that any dissenting voice is unworthy of being allowed to live on the earth? What sort of human value do they propagate when they carry out their barbaric act in the name of religion?
Undoubtedly, this act of murdering a man for proposing or upholding an idea is most heinous, to say the least. An Islamic organisation by the name, Ansar Bangla 7, has purportedly claimed the responsibility of this crime. This is not the first time or only one incident that Islamic organisations have carried out such barbaric acts. In Bangladesh alone, a number of bloggers, including Ahmed Rajib Haider in February 2013, as well as a prominent author and educationist Humayun Azad in 2004 had been killed by Islamic assailants in similar fashion. There are innumerable other cases where religious intolerance directly leads to the murder of individuals.
Worldwide, Islamic fundamentalists have become so completely deranged that it is indescribable. From the 9/11 attack, killing over 3,000 people, and London underground attack, killing 38 people, to attacks in Mumbai, Madrid, Mali, Bali and so on by Islamists are all extremely insinuating to the religion. The internecine conflicts between Sunnis and Shias all over the world only bring disgrace to the religion. The beheading of nurses, news reporters, voluntary workers as well as innocent men, women and children by the ISIS in the Middle-East in the name of Islam does not bring any good name to the religion. Is Islam so very fragile that any question, however remotely be applicable to Islam, has to be violently suppressed? No other religion has such jingoistic violent attitude.
HAF urges Bangladesh to Take Action
Leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) strongly condemned the brutal murder of Atlanta-based Bangladeshi American writer and blogger, Avijit Roy, in Dhaka on February 27. Roy, a humanist of Hindu origin and an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism, was attacked by machete wielding assailants while on his way back from a book fair at Dhaka University. His wife and fellow blogger, Rafida Ahmed, also sustained severe injuries in the attack and remained hospitalised in critical condition.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of Avijit, and we are hopeful that Rafida will make a full and speedy recovery,” said Samir Kalra, HAF’s senior Director for Human Rights. “And we urge the Bangladeshi Police to conduct a thorough and swift investigation and find those responsible for this heinous attack.”
Although police have yet to make any arrests in the case, a relatively unknown Islamist group, Ansar Bangla-7, has claimed credit for the attack. Roy, the founder of a popular Bengali-language blog, Mukto-Mona (Free Mind), had also reportedly received death threats from Islamist bloggers linked to Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), the largest radical Islamist organisation in the country.
“The attack on Avijit and Rafida is only the latest attempt by Islamist groups in Bangladesh to silence free speech and undermine the nation’s secular fabric,” said Jay Kansara, HAF’s Director of Government Relations, who just returned from a human rights fact-finding mission to Bangladesh earlier this month. “Organisations such as JeI and Ansar Bangla-7 pose an existential threat to democracy, freedom of thought, and religious pluralism in Bangladesh, and must be confronted by the government by the strongest means necessary.”
During the Foundation’s fact-finding trip to Bangladesh, several NGOs, civil society leaders, and minority groups expressed serious concern with the increasing power of Islamists, and the burgeoning threat of pro-ISIS activity in the country. This growing trend has also been extensively documented by the Foundation in its annual human rights report and policy brief on Jamaat-e-Islami.
Received Death Threats Before
Ajay Roy, Avijit's father, filed a case of murder with the Shahbagh Police on February 27 without naming suspects.
The father, a retired professor at the Dhaka University, later told reporters his son was killed by extremist and communal groups backed by Jamaat-e-Islami, the main Islamist political party in the country. Avijit Roy had received death threats several times for posting his views on blog, his father said. Jamaat-e-Islami, however, protested Ajay Roy's statement and demanded punishment of the killers.
Jadabeswar Bhattacharjee, a contributor to Mukto-Mona, posted on February 27 that Roy had been killed by “some brain-dead Islamist bigots.”
Bob Churchill, a spokesman for the London-based International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), said the “loss is keenly felt by freethinkers and humanists in South Asia and around the world” and called Roy “a colleague in humanism and a friend to all who respect human rights, freedom, and the light of reason.”
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) said in a statement that an Islamist activist “well-known” to authorities early last year threatened Roy and “repeatedly and openly talked about wanting to see secular and free thought writers dead”.
“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,” the statement said. There was no immediate response to the claim from authorities in Bangladesh.
A Rahman (The writer is a freethinker & can be visited at