Hundreds of protesters gathered in Dhaka Feb. 27 to denounce the murder of Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy, hacked to death with machetes earlier that day while walking near a book fair he was visiting in the city. Roy was founder of Mukto-Mona (Free Mind) blog, which advocated secularism and atheism. He had received numerous threats from Islamists in recent months. His wife was also injured the attack. There have been no arrests. At the rally, protesters chanted "We want justice" and "Raise your voice against militants."
Islamist groups in Bangladesh have long demanded the public execution of atheist bloggers and sought new laws to combat writing critical of Islam. Another atheist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was similarly hacked to death by members of an Islamist militant group in 2013, sparking nationwide protests by tens of thousands of secular activists. But the supposedly secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reacted by arresting some atheist bloggers, to appease Islamist pressure. The government also blocked about a dozen websites and blogs that were accused of blasphemy
Roy had written about 10 books, including the best-selling Biswasher Virus (Virus of Faith). His Mukto-Mona website now bears the message in Bengali "We are grieving but we shall overcome," against a black background. (NDTV, BBC News, Feb. 27)