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Friday, September 4, 2015

Blogging - Becoming a Very Dangerous Sport in Bangladesh

Just a couple years ago it seemed that bloggers were completely free to say anything they want without repercussion. But the world is rapidly changing; it's becoming much more violent and much less tolerant of differing opinions.

Personally, I have received no threats in spite of writing some scathing articles, just some insults by those who think that everyone who disagrees with them must be evil. But there are many bloggers who are not so fortunate.

For instance, in the news today:

Four bloggers hacked to death this year in Bangladesh
Bangladeshi secular activists take part in a procession to protest against the
killing of blogger Niloy Chakrabarti. PHOTO: AFP
DHAKA: Nervous, pale and sleep deprived, Bangladesh blogger Shammi Haque describes living in constant fear after four of her colleagues were hacked to death this year by suspected extremists.

A social activist, feminist and atheist writer, Haque rarely ventures outside her home in the capital and receives 24-hour police protection, fearful of being next on the list of machete-wielding attackers.

“I cannot close my eyes without having sleeping pills. Even the noise of the window shutters scares me,” the 22-year-old university student told AFP recently in Dhaka.

Bangladesh’s bloggers and secular activists have been in hiding or fled the country since the murders — including that of Niloy Chakrabarti, a vocal critic of Islamic fundamentalism, in his home in August.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s secular government has vowed to hunt down the killers, following international outrage and accusations it failed to stop the attacks, wary of a political backlash from extremists.

A string of arrests have been made, and police this week charged five militants of banned extremist outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team over the murder of Washiqur Rahman, the first blogger killed in January.

Avijit Roy (Bengali: অভিজিৎ রায়; 12 September 1972 – 26 February 2015) was a Bangladeshi-American online activist, writer, blogger known for pioneering Bengali freethinkers’ weblog-forum, Mukto-Mona. Roy was a prominent advocate of free expression in Bangladesh, coordinating international protests against government censorship and imprisonment of bloggers. He founded Mukto-Mona, an Internet community for freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, atheists, and humanists of mainly Bengali and other South Asian descent. He was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 26 February 2015; Islamic militant organization Ansarullah Bangla Team claimed responsibility for the attack. - Wikipedia

“At least 12 atheist bloggers have fled the country this year. And 70 bloggers have asked for assistance for migration as their lives are at stake,” said Berlin-based atheist blogger Asif Mohiuddin.

Mohiuddin left Bangladesh after surviving a machete attack in 2013. Police have accused several of Mohiuddin’s attackers, who were released on bail, of later murdering Chakrabarti.

“I am not sure whether the government is sincere in protecting the bloggers. If that was the case, these murderers could have never got bail and continued their killing spree,” said Mohiuddin.

Extremists have long clashed with young secular activists whom they consider infidels for criticising Islam on social media, some of them under pen names.

But the gruesome killings have shaken many in Bangladesh which prides itself on being a mainly moderate Muslim country.

How 'moderate' is Bangladesh when the government is concerned about alienating the 'extremists'. It seems the 'extremists' may account for a large segment of the Bangladeshi population.