Attacks on Secular Artists

Bangladesh-a secular, Muslim-majority country-has struggled with violent Islamist groups since the country fought war for independence from West Pakistan in 1971.

Bangladesh, in recent times, has been witnessing a spate of attacks on minorities, liberals and secular activists, bloggers and journalists.
Why bloggers (liberals and secular activists)?
  • Radicals groups have targeted bloggers for their “atheistic” and “secular” views over the last few years.
  • The bloggers are among those who would want to hold on to the ideal of a secular state that was conceived after the historic war of liberation against the then West Pakistan in 1971.
  • The bloggers were supporters of the war crimes trial.
  • Bloggers are instrumental in shaping public opinion in cyber space against communalism.
  • Bloggers have criticized militant/ radical groups.
Fall out of war trial
  • The current Awami League government claims to be committed to secularism, and has boldly initiated the trial of war criminals who committed genocide and mass rape during the Liberation War of 1971
  • Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s leading Islamist party and firm ally of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has been hardest hit by these trials. Many of their leaders have been convicted of war crimes.
  • The main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has joined hands with the Jamaat-e-Islami to unleash violent protests against the government, particularly against the war trial in which several Jamaat leaders have been indicted.
  • When one of the leaders, Abdul Quader Mollah, was convicted, spontaneous agitations erupted in Dhaka culminating in the Shahbag protests in 2013 demanding capital punishment for those convicted for the war crimes of 1971.
  • In fact, much of the recent Islamist militancy in Bangladesh is in response to the trials of 1971 war criminals by the International Crimes Tribunal.
  • Since 2013, a variety of local Islamist groups are believed to be responsible for the murders of at least 40 pro-secular writers and activists, members of religious minorities and foreigners.
  • The killing of the bloggers comes against this background.
  • Killing of secular bloggers also raises questions about the commitment and capability of the Bangladesh government in protecting its citizens from organised violence.
  • By means of the murders the Islamists are sending a message to the government and the public that anyone who criticises them would face a similar fate.
  • Government should initiate credible steps to ensure the safety of citizens. Failing to do that would only send a message to the assailants that the authorities tend to tolerate such attacks.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top