Islamic Militant Hit-List Targets Secular Bloggers, Writers, and Activists.

An Islamic militant group issued a statement on the internet by the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) which contained a hit-list which targeted a specific group of bloggers who dared to speak openly criticizing the extremist Muslim ideologies.

To date, the first four bloggers on the list have already lost their lives:

  • Avijt Roy, a science writer and blog site moderator, was hacked to death with machetes in February 2015.
  • Washiqur Rahman was killed in March 2015 at the tender age of twenty-seven.
  • Ananta Bijoy Das was murdered by a group wielding machetes in May 2015 as he was headed to work in Sylhet, northern Bangladesh.
  • Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen name, Niloy Neel, was hacked to death with machetes after a gang broke into his apartment in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka.

Shortly after the death of Niloy Chakrabari, the Dhaka Tribune (a local newspaper) published an email stating:

“We, Al Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the honor of the messenger of Allah. We declare war against the enemies of Allah and His messenger. Enemies of Allah and His messenger…we are coming [for] you…If your ‘Freedom of Speech’ maintains no limits, then widen your chests for ‘Freedom of our Machetes’.”

Although, I was abhorred by these reports, I needed to know more. I whole heartedly believe this is a topic that needs to be spotlighted—and yet, I myself, have only just been made aware.

Not wanting to take liberties on a topic I know so little of, I reached out to the next person documented on the hit-list who is still alive. I reached out to Ananya Azad who is currently living in a self-imposed exile lest he be murdered.

As Mr. Azad told me of his story, I learned the conflict he has experienced and the multiple assassination threats are nothing new for him.

His father, the late Dr. Humayun Azad, was a prominent Bangali professor of Dhaka University. Dr. Azad was a non-conformist writer and a non-believer.

In 2004, Dr. Azad was attacked by fundamentalists as he was returning home from a book fair.

Though he survived the horrific attack, Islamic fundamentalists declared him “undesirable in Bangladesh.”  A FATWA was issued against him in different parts of the country.

Still, Dr. Azad remained determined to continue speaking out against war criminals and religious fundamentalists.

In August 2014, Dr. Azad’s family was notified that he passed away. His cause of death is still a mystery.

During this time, Ananya Azad was captured, beaten, and literally tortured by the Islamic Fundamentalists. He was later rescued and determined to honor his father and continue his work.

Ananya Azad writes against religious fundamentalists, “who do bad things in the name of religion.” In his own words, Mr. Azad states, I am a secular writer. I write about socialism, humanism, feminism, politics, women’s rights, fundamentalism, religious contradictory, social backward rules and regulation. I also wrote a novel on feminism titled, “Chastity versus Polygamy.”

The Bangladesh government is well aware of the threats that have taken the lives of four people already. Yet, they do not intervene. They have not stepped in to offer support or protection.

Mr. Azad believes this is due to the government’s fear of the fundamentalists. Despite Bangladesh’s claim of being a “free country,” it is still controlled by opposing forces.

Mr. Azad states, “Bangladesh is no longer a safe place for a free-thinker to take breath.”

When asked if he had a statement he would like to tell the world (as he believes his days to be numbered), he stated this:

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