On Saturday morning, as 58-year-old Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique headed to work at Rajshahi University in Bangladesh, assailants stopped him before he reached the bus station and hacked him to death with machetes:
“His neck was hacked at least three times and was 70-80 percent slit. By examining the nature of the attack, we suspect that it was carried out by extremist groups,” Rajshahi metropolitan police commissioner Mohammad Shamsuddin said.
Shamsuddin said police had not yet named any suspects but added that the pattern of the attack fitted with previous killings by Islamist militants.
That last part is key. It was just a few weeks ago that atheist Nazimuddin Samad became the latest critic of religion to be murdered in a similar fashion.
However, no Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the attack on Siddique so far, and it’s not clear that he advocated for atheism in any meaningful way. In fact, one of Siddique’s colleagues even told reporters “he never wrote or spoke against religion in public.”
There may be another motive, though:
Nahidul Islam, a deputy commissioner of police, said Siddique was involved in cultural programmes, including music, and set up a school at Bagmara, a former bastion of an outlawed Islamist group, Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
“The attack is similar to the ones carried out on (atheist) bloggers in the recent past,” Islam said.
We’ll keep an eye on this story as it develops.
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