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American atheist blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh

A prominent American blogger of Bangladeshi origin has been hacked to death with machetes by unidentified assailants in Dhaka after he allegedly received threats from Islamists. The body of Avijit Roy, founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog site – which champions liberal secular writing in the Muslim-majority nation – was found covered in blood after an attack that also left his wife critically wounded. Avijit Roy, the blogger who wouldn’t back down in the face of threats “He died as he was brought to the hospital. His wife was also seriously wounded. She has lost a finger,” local police chief Sirajul Islam said.

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The couple was on a bicycle rickshaw, returning from a book fair. Local media reported that when two assailants stopped and dragged them onto the pavement before striking them with machetes, citing witnesses. Hundreds of protesters rallied in Dhaka to denounce the murder, chanting slogans including “we want justice” and “raise your voice against militants.” Imran Sarker, the Bangladesh bloggers’ association head, said the protests would continue until those responsible were apprehended. “Avijit’s killing once again proved that there is a culture of impunity in the country,” Sarker told Agence France-Presse. “The government must arrest the killers in 24 hours or face non-stop protests.”

Roy, who was 42, is the second Bangladeshi blogger to have been murdered in two years and the fourth writer attacked since 2004. Hardline Islamist groups have long demanded the public killing of atheist bloggers and sought new laws to write critically about Islam. “Roy suffered fatal wounds in the head and died from bleeding … after being brought to the hospital,” Dr. Sohel Ahmed told reporters. Avijit Roy’s wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, is carried on a stretcher after being seriously injured by unidentified assailants. Roy founded a blog site that champions liberal secular writing in the Muslim majority nation.

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Avijit Roy’s wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, is carried on a stretcher after being seriously injured by unidentified assailants. that photograph: Rajib Dhar/AFP/Getty Images Police have launched an inquiry and recovered the machetes used in the attack but could not confirm whether Islamists were behind the incident. Roy founded a blog site that champions liberal secular writing in the Muslim majority nation. But Roy’s father said the writer, a US citizen, had received several “threatening” emails and messages on social media from hardliners unhappy with his writing. “He was a secular humanist and has written about 10 books,” Ajoy Roy told AFP. His most famous work was Biswasher Virus (Virus of Faith).

Social activists, bloggers, and writers attend a protest demanding the arrest of Avijit Roy’s killer. The Center for Inquiry, a US-based charity promoting free thought, said “shocked and heartbroken” by the brutal murder. “Dr. Roy was a true ally, a courageous and eloquent defender of reason, science, and free expression, in a country where those values have been under heavy attack,” it said in a statement. Roy’s killing also triggered strong condemnation from his fellow writers and publishers, who lamented The Know It Guy’s growing religious conservatism and intolerance in Bangladesh.

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