HAF Condemns Murder of Another Secular Blogger in Bangladesh

Washington, D.C. (March 30, 2015) - Leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) strongly condemned the murder of secular blogger, Washikur Rahman, who was hacked to death by three madrassa students in Bangladesh on Monday morning. Rahman was reportedly targeted for his criticism of religious fundamentalism and radical Islamist groups in Bangladesh, including Jamaat-e-Islami.

“The tragic murder of Washikur Rahman is part of a deeply troubling trend and represents a struggle for Bangladesh’s soul,” said Jay Kansara, HAF’s Director for Government Relations, who recently led a human rights fact-finding mission to Bangladesh. “Islamist groups are becoming increasingly powerful and utilizing wanton violence in an attempt to transform this secular nation into a theocratic state with limited rights for minorities, atheists, and women.”

Rahman was the second secular blogger to be killed in the past five weeks, following the murder of Bangladeshi-American writer, Avijit Roy, on February 26.

Two of Rahman’s attackers were apprehended by police while fleeing the scene of the attack, but a third suspect escaped. According to news reports, one of those arrested is reportedly a student at a madrassa run by Hefazat-e-Islam, a radical Islamist group that gained national prominence in 2013 after calling for the execution of “atheist bloggers.”

“It’s no surprise that one of the attackers was a student at a Hefazat-e-Islam controlled madrassa,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF’s Senior Director and Human Rights Fellow. “Similar to Jamaat-e-Islami and other radical Islamist groups, Hefazat promotes a narrow sectarian agenda, including the imposition of anti-blasphemy laws and the segregation of men and women in public.”

The Foundation has extensively documented the growth of extremism in Bangladesh in its annual human rights report and policy brief on Jamaat-e-Islami.