A 26-year-old university student and secular blogger named Nazimuddin Samad was murdered in the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh Wednesday by a group of men believed to be Islamic militants. Samad is the 7th secular blogger murdered in Bangladesh since 2013.
A secular Bangladeshi blog called Mukto-Mona published a description of Samad’ murder online Wednesday:
Today, on April 6, 2016, at approximately 9 pm in the evening, Nazimuddin Samad, a student of the Jagannath University, was hacked to death by unknown assailants in Dhaka’s Sutrapur. Nazimuddin was a courageous freethinker; he was vocal in his support for a secular and humane Bangladesh. As he was returning from his university a few young men, who came there on a motorcycle, intercepted him at the Ekrampur crossing and started hacking him with their machetes. In the end, they made sure that Nazimuddin would die by shooting him in the head. Witnesses said the assailants shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they killed Nazimuddin.
Even though nobody has claimed responsibility for this murder, the modus operandi was very similar to all the killings carried out by the extremist Islamist militants in Bangladesh.
The site also published an exchange between Samad and another secularist who warned him to be careful because of the string of murders in the area. Samad replied, “I am also scared, Sir, scared of getting killed. But what else can I do? It’s better to die rather than living by keeping my head down.”
The group believed to be responsible for this attack and six previous ones is known as Ansar Bangla. The first attack in 2013 led to arrests and eventually some convictions but the attack continued throughout 2015. CNN published a this run down of four more of Ansar Bangla’s victims:
In February, Roy, a Bangladesh-born American blogger, was killed with machetes and knives as he walked back from a book fair in Dhaka.
A month later, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was savaged by two men with knives and meat cleaversjust outside his house as he headed to work at a travel agency in the capital.
Das, 32, was set upon with cleavers and machetes in May as he left his home on his way to work at a bank in northeastern Bangladesh. And less than two weeks ago, Neel was hacked to death in his Dhaka apartment.
Then last October Faisal Abedin Deepan, a publisher of secular books, was found murdered–hacked to death–in his office. His murder took place the same day as another attack that wounded two other secular writers and a publisher.
Islam is the official state religion of Bangladesh but the country’s constitution also includes a guarantee of secularism. Last month the country’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could lead to dropping Islam as the official religion. That comes after a series of attacks on religious minorities and foreign visitors, some of which have been claimed by ISIS, as well as the attacks on secular writers.