HAF Condemns Brutal Murder of Avijit Roy, Urges Bangladesh to Take Action

Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2015) -- Leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) strongly condemned the brutal murder of Atlanta-based Bangladeshi American writer and blogger, Avijit Roy, in Dhaka on Thursday. Roy, a humanist and an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism, was attacked by machete wielding assailants while on his way back from a book fair at Dhaka University. His wife and fellow blogger, Rafida Ahmed, also sustained severe injuries in the attack and remains hospitalized and in critical condition.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of Avijit, and we are hopeful that Rafida will make a full and speedy recovery,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF’s Senior Director for Human Rights. “And we urge the Bangladeshi police to conduct a thorough and swift investigation and find those responsible for this heinous attack.”

Although police have yet to make any arrests in the case, a relatively unknown Islamist group, Ansar Bangla-7, has claimed credit for the attack. Roy, the founder of a popular Bengali-language blog, Mukto-Mona (Free Mind), had also reportedly received death threats from Islamist bloggers linked to Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), the largest radical Islamist organization in the country.

“The attack on Avijit and Rafida is only the latest attempt by Islamist groups in Bangladesh to silence free speech and undermine the nation’s secular fabric,” said Jay Kansara, HAF’s Director of Government Relations, who just returned from a human rights fact-finding mission to Bangladesh earlier this month. “Organizations such as JeI and Ansar Bangla-7 pose an existential threat to democracy, freedom of thought, and religious pluralism in Bangladesh, and must be confronted by the government by the strongest means necessary.”

During the Foundation’s fact-finding trip to Bangladesh, several NGOs, civil society leaders, and minority groups expressed serious concern with the increasing power of Islamists, and the burgeoning threat of pro-ISIS activity in the country. This growing trend has also been extensively documented by the Foundation in its annual human rights report and policy brief on Jamaat-e-Islami.

“We walked on the same street in Dhaka where Roy was killed. This has hit closer to home than ever before,” added Kansara.