Avijit Roy, a prominent atheist American blogger who had raised his voice against religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh, was hacked to death in a street in the capital city of Dhaka on Thursday. Roy had been threatened by Islamic fundamentals over his secular writings on many an occasion in the past.
Born in Bangladesh but am American citizen, Roy had been among the frontline critics of those propagating ideological hatred in his native country. Roy was accompanied by his wife, Rafida Ahmed, and the two were returning home after attending a book fair at Dhaka University in Dhaka when the attack came.
While some news agencies have been saying that he weapons used to hack him were cleavers, others go on to say that machetes were used. While Roy succumbed to his injuries in the hospital, his wife has survived though she too did lose a finger.
The police have not gone on to specify that the attackers were Islamic extremists but the location and method are similar to that of earlier religiously motivated crimes. Extremists had earlier killed another anti-extremist author, Ahmed Rajib Haider, in 2013 at the same location in Dhaka.
In his mid 40s, Roy had founded a blog called “Mukto-Mona,” or “free mind.” He had received threats from extremists before. His books — with titles such as “The Virus of Faith” sure to inflame fundamentalists — were banned from at least one popular Bangladeshi online retailer.
He was committed to the cause of turning his country (which is 90percent Muslim) into a secular democracy.
“Our aim is to build a society which will not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy but would rather be based on reason, compassion, humanity, equality and science,” Roy said in an interview in 2007.
At a time when radical Islamist groups have been asking for public execution of atheist bloggers and are pressing upon the government to bring out new laws sought new laws to combat writing critical of Islam, Roy was seen as a towering example of fearlessness and independent thought.
Hundreds of protesters from all walks of life poured on to the streets of Dhaka to denounce the gruesome killing while chanting slogans like including “We want justice” and “raise your voice against militants”.