A secular blogger has been hacked to death in north-east Bangladesh, the third such deadly attack this year.
Police said Ananta Bijoy Das was murdered as he headed to work at a bank in the city of Sylhet, an attack that fellow writers said highlighted a culture of impunity.
Kamrul Hasan, commissioner of Sylhet police, said a group of about four masked attackers pounced on Das with machetes at about 8.30am on Tuesday on a busy street in Bangladesh’s fifth-largest city.
“They chased him down the street and first attacked his head with their machetes and then attacked him all over his body,” Hasan told Agence France-Presse. The attackers fled into the crowds and Das was taken to hospital but declared dead on arrival, police and medics said.
Hasan would not be drawn on the motive for the attack but fellow writers said Das had been on a hitlist drawn up by militants who were behind the recent killing of a blogger who was a US citizen.
Sarker told the Guardian: “They [the government] should not stay in power, if they are not able to bring the perpetrators to justice. One after another incident is happening and they are not able to do anything.”
Debasish Debu, a friend of Das, said the 33-year-old banker was also an editor of a quarterly magazine called Jukti (Logic) and headed the Sylhet-based science and rationalist council.
Debu said Das had been receiving threats for his writing and that their frequency increased after the killing of Roy. “He had written about superstitions, but he wasn’t among the writers that would hurt the sentiments of religion,” Debu said.
According to the Mukto-Mona site, Das won the publication’s annual rationalist award in 2006 for his “deep and courageous interest in spreading secular and humanist ideals and messages”.
While most of Das’s output for Mukto-Mona focused on science and evolution, he wrote a number of blogs that criticised some aspects of Islam and also of Hinduism. He also wrote a poem eulogising the famed Bangladeshi secular writer Taslima Nasreen, who fled to Europe in 1994 after protests by Islamists.
In comments on Facebook posted early on Tuesday, Das criticised the local member of parliament from the ruling Awami League party for criticising one of the country’s top secular and science fiction writers.
His murder comes a week after al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent claimed responsibility for Roy’s killing on 26 February in which his wife was badly injured. An Islamist has been arrested over his murder. Another atheist blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was hacked to death in Dhaka in March. Two madrassa students have been arrested over that attack.
Bangladesh is an officially secular country but more than 90% of its 160 million population are Muslims. There has been an increase in attacks by religious extremists in recent years. Supporters of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, which is banned from standing in elections, have been accused of being behind a spate of firebombings this year aimed at toppling the government.
Since 2013, at least five bloggers have been attacked by Islamists after another hardline group, Hefazat-e-Islam, publicly sought the execution of atheists who organised mass protests against the rise of political Islam.
Hefazat, led by Islamic seminary teachers, also staged a massive counter-protest against the bloggers in May 2013 that unleashed violence and left nearly 50 people dead.
Religious violence is undergoing a revival. The past decade has witnessed a sharp increase in violent sectarian or religious tensions. These range from Islamic extremists waging global jihad and power struggles between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East to the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar and outbreaks of violence between Christians and Muslims across Africa.
According to Pew, in 2018 more than a quarter of the world’s countries experienced a high incidence of hostilities motivated by religious hatred, mob violence related to religion, terrorism, and harassment of women for violating religious codes.
The spike in religious violence is global and affects virtually every religious group. A 2018 Minority Rights Group report indicates that mass killings and other atrocities are increasing in countries both affected and not affected by war alike. While bloody encounters were recorded in over 50 countries, most reported lethal incidents involving minorities were concentrated in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Hostilities against Muslims and Jews also increased across Europe, as did threats against Hindus in more than 18 countries. Making matters worse, 55 of the world’s 198 countries imposed heightened restrictions on religions, especially Egypt, Russia, India, Indonesia and Turkey.
How is it that religions – which supposedly espouse peace, love and harmony – are so commonly connected with intolerance and violent aggression? Social scientists are divided on the issue. Scholars like William Cavanaugh contend that even when extremists use theological texts to justify their actions, “religious” violence is not religious at all – but rather a perversion of core teachings. Others such as Richard Dawkins believe that because religions fuel certainties and sanctify martyrdom, they are often a root cause of conflict. Meanwhile, Timothy Sisk claims that both hierarchical religious traditions (such as Shi´ism) and non-hierarchical traditions (such as Buddhism) can both be vulnerable to interpretation of canon to justify or even provide warrants for violent action.
For millennia, every religious tradition has either fallen victim to or sanctioned violence. Consider Saint Augustine and Saint Aquinas who laid the foundations of the ‘just war’ doctrine in the cases of self-defense, to prevent a tyrant from attacking, and to punish guilty enemies. Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others have long invoked violence in the name of religion. In some cases, as when state and religion are intertwined, mass violence may arise. Unfortunately, the risk of sectarian violence is unlikely to go away: more than 84% of the world’s population identify themselves with a religious group.
Violence inspired by religious intolerance is easier described than defined. It spans intimidation, harassment and internment to terrorism and outright warfare. Usually it arises when the core beliefs that define a group’s identity are fundamentally challenged. It is ratcheted-up by ‘in-group’ communities against other ‘out-group’ communities, often with the help of fundamentalist religious leaders. Some researchers such as Justin Lane refer to the sense of threat among insiders as “xenophobic social anxiety”, which – when combined with political and cultural exclusion and social and economic inequality – can escalate into extreme physical violence.
Religious leaders are often criticized for not doing enough to stem religious violence. By not publicly condemning every act of extremism, entire faith communities are presumed to be somehow complicit. This is unfair. Indeed, there are millions of people of faith who are actively involved in helping the poor and marginalized and fostering reconciliation in the aftermath of war. They may be mobilized through their churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, or work through international humanitarian agencies and missions overseas. While regularly accused of fanning the flames of sectarian violence, religious leaders are frequently trying to do the opposite, including mediating peace agreements and promoting non-violence.
In an era of turbulence and uncertainty, interfaith action may offer an important antidote to religious violence. Religious communities can and do offer a reminder of the core principles of our common humanity. While not the exclusive preserve of faith-based groups, the conscious spread of values of empathy, compassion, forgiveness and altruism are needed today more than ever. The persistent calls for patience, tolerance, understanding, face-to-face dialogue and reconciliation are more important than ever given today’s spiralling polarisation and the dangerous anonymity provided by social media.
With notable exceptions, interfaith efforts to prevent violence and promote peace suffer from a credibility problem. Part of the reason for this is that religious groups frequently adopt a ‘thousand flowers bloom’ approach to peace-building – fielding multiple activities without solid evidence of their effectiveness. According to Catherine Osborn, interfaith institutions can be effective, but success often comes down to the extent to which religious leaders can work with the ‘internal policers’ within their communities to cool down hotheads and prevent escalation. In the end, religious groups must hold themselves to the highest standard. This requires, at a minimum, doing no harm. It also means being accountable about what strategies work, and which do not.
A related challenge is that most interfaith measures to promote peace and reconciliation are seldom documented, much less evaluated. As a result, the persistent and patient support provided to high-level policy initiatives goes unrecorded, with other organizations often quick to take the credit. A number of today’s most successful arms control and peace-building norms are the fruit of interfaith dialogue, even if this is not always acknowledged. This gap could be bridged, however, by developing partnerships with universities and undertaking robust monitoring and evaluation. This way, interfaith groups could better understand what aspects of the peace architecture are working, and which activities to discard.
Finally, religious groups and the interfaith community could usefully get more proactive about peace-making. This will require leaving the safe zone of like-minded religious organizations and engaging more fulsomely with international agencies and the business community. Religious leaders should also become more literate with new technologies, not least social media, finding ways to promote positive values both on- and offline. And successful instances of interfaith cooperation – including through powerful networks like Religion for Peace – need to be better marketed. This is because signals and symbols of collective action across religious divides are needed more than ever in our disorderly and fractured world.
Gotta love these shitstain on the underwear of humanity ChristoTaliban hypocrites huh? Oh no, if Mayor Pete is elected President? That means we will have to pray for him.
First of all, Christians would still be obligated to respect the Presidency, obey the law and pray for President Buttigieg.
BUT THESE SAME HYPOCRITE, BUYBULL THUMPING, SCUMBAG CHRISTIANS? WANT US TO PRAY FOR THEIR ADULTERER IN CHIEF, DONALD J TRUMP, TO RESPECT HIM, TO PRAY FOR HIM, THE PATHOLOGICAL LYING, PROVEN BIGOT AND RACIST AND MISOGYNIST PIG, PROVEN THIEF AND CON ARTIST, PROVEN SCUMBAG PIECE OF SHIT ON THE UNDERWEAR OF HUMANITY HUH?
I am going to start a petition to have all Christian priests and pastors busted for raping children? Given the death penalty. Hundreds of thousands of Christian priests and pastors along with their leaders who covered it up and protected them? Would be put to death for their Crimes Against Humanity and their Crimes Against the Children of the World.
Here is a great list to start with.The Bishops Accountability’s Abuse Tracker blog, full of stories of priests and pastors from all Christian denominations busted for raping kids.
Drag queens don’t belong in kids’ libraries – #IStandWithRepresentativeBaker
SIGN THIS PETITION
A bill proposed in Missouri could put power back in the hands of parents, over librarians who are giving minors “age-inappropriate sexual material” and promoting events like the so-called Drag Queen Story Hour.
LifeSite and the Personhood Alliance are proud to stand with Rep. Baker, and support his legislation to protect children from sexualization and possible predation taking place in taxpayer-funded public libraries.
Please SIGN this petition and say: #IStandWithRepresentativeBaker
And, in fact, Rep. Baker’s proposed bill is a direct…
Actually? The rapists and pedophiles? Are in the Christian churches. Hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of innocent children have been raped by Christian priests and pastors. Some of these scumbag pedo Christian priests and pastors have victim counts in the hundreds.
One? Raped a girl on her fathers grave after he held the funeral services for her father.
Hundreds of deaf mute children were brutally raped at the Antonio Provolo Institutes in Verona Italy and Mendoza Argentina by five priests. The Vatican and head Pedo Pimp Popo Franko knew all about it but covered up and protected these scumbags and then? Attacked the victims.
I could go on. Look up Bishops Accountability’s Abuse Tracker blog.
This petition asks the South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem, to support the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, which seeks to protect gender-confused children from medical treatment which would wrongly treat puberty as a disease and cause permanent physical and mental problems.
Studies show that 85% of gender confused children eventually become comfortable with the sex of their bodies….