One after the other the names of writers and bloggers who have been murdered have appeared on the computer screen: Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Dash, Niloy Chakrabarti, and Roy’s publisher Faisal Avefin Dipan. In the course of the year, these people have all been killed, often hacked to death, by religious fanatics who have aimed to silence them and to stop them from pursuing an open intellectual debate. The murders of Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Dash made deadlines in world media, but many others have been assaulted and yet others are living under constant threat for their lives. Assassination lists of secular bloggers are circulating on the web—those who are still alive are meant to be intimidated by these killings, and thereby to be silenced.
This past year, a constant flow of similar horrendous news has been reaching us from Bangladesh. The list of names of murdered persons, however, must not become any longer. All these victims have been killed for the same reason: they have attempted to pursue a serious and intellectual debate about the relationship between scientific findings and social progress and, most importantly, about the role of religion in society. The killers attack these serious-minded debaters with their machetes—all in the name of religion. The guest writer Ratan Kumar Samadder describes in detail what this terror campaign looks like. Several of those killed were connected to the respected blog site Mukto-Mona (literally “freethinker”), which is a platform for critics of religion, agnostics, and secular humanists; the story behind the blog is here given narrative form by the contributor to the site Siddharta Dhar.