For the first time this year, and the first time in several months, an atheist has been slaughtered in Bangladesh.
Now, 28-year-old Nazimuddin Samad is the latest victim of alleged Islamic butchery due to his promotion of atheism:
He was attacked at Ekrampur intersection around 8:30pm by three assailants while walking to his home in Gendaria with another youth after completing classes at the university near Bahadur Shah Park.
His friends said that Nazim used to campaign for secularism on Facebook and was critical of radical Islamists. A day before the murder, he expressed concerns over the country’s law and order in a Facebook post.
Police said that the killers who came on a motorcycle first intercepted them and then attacked Nazim with machetes. At one point, he fell on the street and then the attackers shot him to confirm death before leaving the place. His brain spilled over the road in the attack.
Businessmen of the area closed the shops immediately after hearing the gunshots.
During the murder, the killers were chanting “Allahu Akbar,” police said quoting locals.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union gives us a bit more perspective on who Samad was as well as his sense of humor:
In earlier posts, Nazimuddin responded to a cleric’s violent speech against women which referenced the Quran, contrasting his speech with the claim that “Islam is the highest honor given to women!” He asked for justice for a girl known as Tonu, who had been raped and killed in the military area of ‘Cantoment’, Comilla.
Nazimuddin recently criticised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s support for madrassa (Islamic schools), which are increasingly associated with Islamist radicalism and militancy in the country. Nazimuddin had also shared posts from Washiqur Rahman Babu who was killed last year in a similar attack, carried out by two madrassa students who claimed they were acting on orders from someone associated with their Islamic schools.
In another post, he proposed a satirical strategy to overcome the aggressive push toward Islamism in the country, writing: “Please let’s have Sharia Law for just five years in Bangladesh. Rule the country with Medina Law. I guarantee you, after this 5 years, no Muslim of Bangladesh will ask for Islamic law! The loss and damage we will have after five years, it will take 1400 years to restore us to a modern country.”
Mutko-Mona, the website where many of the Bangladeshi bloggers wrote, adds that this attack is similar to those they’ve sadly seen many times before, suggesting there’s a connection between them all.
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” (Allah is great) 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.
Samad was under threat by the Islamist for his activism and when asked to stay safe, this is how he responded-
Azharul islam: Worried about you Nazim. Be careful, please. You already know what’s happening! Be careful.
Nazimuddin Samad: 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.
“It’s better to die rather than living by keeping my head down.”
My goodness, the courage in this man…
There have been rumors over the past few years that the terrorist group Ansarullah Bangla Team had a hit list of 84 people on it, many of whom have been murdered since the list came out. I’m told that Samad was not on that list.
In any case, it looks like after a five-month respite, we’re back to hearing stories like this one. Who knows when this systematic slaughter of freethinkers will ever end.
***Update***: The Center For Inquiry, a group that has been working on this issue for years, issued this statement:
CFI, which has been working to rescue secularists in Bangladesh who have been targeted for killing, demanded that the Bangladeshi government take affirmative steps to protect its people and their right to criticize Islam.
“It is both heartbreaking and maddening to think that this bright and passionate young student, with his whole life ahead of him, was so brutally and callously murdered, almost certainly by Islamic extremists, all because he spoke out for secularism and reason. All of us at the Center for Inquiry extend our deepest condolences to his friends and family,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s director of public policy and main representative to the United Nations.
Samad had been organizing campaigns for secularism on Facebook, and a day before the murder, Samad posted about his concerns over the “deterioration of law and order” in the country, calling it a “public disgrace.”
“The government of Bangladesh must do much more to protect its own people from marauding Islamist killers,” said De Dora. “These murders keep happening because they are allowed to happen, leaving writers and activists like Samad, Avijit, and the other victims as the only ones willing to stand up to those fomenting this violence. The Bangladesh government must publicly and forcefully defend the universal human rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression, fully investigate and prosecute these crimes, and show that attacks on individuals based on their beliefs or expressions will not be tolerated.”