A Bangladeshi law student who used his Facebook page to speak out against Islamism was reportedly hacked to death on Wednesday night and shot afterwards by his attackers. His murder is the latest in an ever-increasing trend of attacks from Islamists against outspoken activists and bloggers who advocate for secularism.
The victim’s name was Nazimuddin Samad, and he was a 26-year-old atheist who had taken part in protests against Islamist leaders in the past. The student was attacked while walking with a friend in the near his university in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. The unknown assailants are said to have ridden up to Samad and just begin hacking at him with machetes. Deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Syed Nurul Islam, gave a statement regarding the violent and targeted attack.
“They hacked his head with a machete. As he fell down, one of them shot him in the head with a pistol from close range. He died on the spot. It is a case of targeted killing. But no group has claimed responsibility.”
The multiple attackers reportedly escaped on the motorcycle afterwards, praising Allah. There were three men involved in the hacking death of Nazimuddin Samad, and all of them wielded a machete against the unarmed student activist. During the attack the machete wielders are also said by the Dhaka Tribune to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest).
Bangladesh student hacked to death https://t.co/J4e66XnWdH— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) April 7, 2016
The police have expressed their belief that the attack was targeted at Samad simply because of his unapologetic atheist beliefs in a country that is technically supposed to be secular, but is a majority-Muslim country. It is also thought that the student supporting a 2013 movement to hold top officials accountable for the crimes committed during the war for Bangladeshi independence from Pakistan in 1971 contributed to the reasons he was wanted dead.
The leader of Bangladesh’s largest online secular activist group, Imran Sarker, stated that Samad has been in the crosshairs of extremists from then, as his name was on a list of 84 atheist campaigners that was sent to the home ministry in 2013 by a hardline Islamist group.
According to Christian Science Monitor, the trend of Islamist extremists attacking writers who speak out against their religion has become so alarming that over 150 writers, including the well known Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, penned and published an open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and the government in general, with a plea for them to do everything possible “in their power to ensure that the tragic events of the last three months are not repeated, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
“We are gravely concerned by this escalating pattern of violence against writers and journalists who are peacefully expressing their views.”
A Bangladeshi law student who posted against Islamism on his Facebook page has been murdered, according to police https://t.co/T4S5A0sQ1p— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 7, 2016
Despite the plea for assistance, there does not seem to be much hope for justice being brought to the assailants, as to date there been no prosecution of perpetrators in the murders of a secular publisher and four atheist bloggers who were hacked to death last year, though the police arrested several members of a banned group known as the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).
This, the sixth such murder in 15 months, brought out over 1,000 students protesting and blocking a busy street in the demand for justice to be doled out to the attackers.
Samad, a student of Jagannath University, regularly posted on his Facebook page against religious extremism. Under religious views on his profile his words were “I have no religion.”