“It all started with a book,” wrote American-Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy in one of his final articles before his tragic murder on February 26. The book in question was one Roy had written in regards to the growing number of extremist faith-based killings — such as those that took place at the Charlie Hebdo office in January — entitled Biswasher Virus(which translates to The Virus of Faith). Avijit had written this book to coincide with a popular national book fair, held each February, in Bangladesh. Biswasher Virus quickly rose to the top of the fair’s best seller list, and though acclaim such as that is typically what writers dream of, for Avijit Roy, it ultimately became his undoing.
Soon after Virus was released, Roy began to receive death threats through his personal e-mail, and social media accounts on nearly a daily basis. In the above-mentioned article, which is set to be published in Free Inquiry magazine in April, according to CNN, Avijit mentions by name a “well-known extremist” who he quotes as writing “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,” in a very public, and widely circulated Facebook status.
Sadly, the threat proved to be all too true.
While walking home from a speaking engagement on the Dhaka University campus, in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on Thursday evening, Roy and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, were attacked in the street by a group of machete-wielding aggressors. Avijit succumbed to his injuries — which reportedly included deep lacerations that cut into his skull and brain — Thursday evening at a nearby hospital. His wife, who was also attacked, was being treated for her injuries, including a severed finger, at the same hospital.
A witness to the brutal attack told police that one of the assailants pulled out a “big knife” and attacked Roy from behind, hacking at his head and shoulders. The shaken witness later told CNN,“I shouted for help from the people but nobody came to save him. No one came.”
In a display of morbid curiosity, the likes of which can only be found on the internet, pictures of the attack were uploaded to a blog on Friday run by another prominent Bangladeshi writer, which depict Avijit laying face down in a pool of blood.
Roy was not the first Bangladeshi atheist blogger to be targeted, and ultimately killed by religious extremists. On February 15, 2013, Ahmed Rajib Haider, also known for speaking out against religious fundamentalism, was hacked to death outside of his home, and, with striking, and terrifying similarities to the death of Avijit Roy, was found in the street outside his home, face down in a pool of blood. Haider was so mutilated by the attacks, that his friends had trouble identifying him.
“To me, such religious extremism is like a highly contagious virus. My own recent experiences in this regard verify the horrific reality that such religious extremism is a ‘virus of faith,'” Roy wrote in his final article on the subject. A haunting look into the mind of a man taken tragically too soon due to extremism at it’s absolute worst.
[Image Credit: The Guardian]