Violence in Bangladesh After ‘Atheist Bloggers’ Criticize Islam

There are headlines all over the place referring to a clash in Bangladesh over “atheist bloggers” resulting in the deaths of at least four people.

“Atheist bloggers” is in quotation marks, of course, because the unnamed bloggers never did anything wrong. They just criticized Islam and some extremists can’t handle that:

The country’s 12 Islamic parties called the protests after Friday prayers in nearly half a million mosques nationwide, demanding the execution of bloggers whom they say blasphemed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

Tensions have risen in the Muslim-majority nation over allegedly anti-Islamic blog posts by Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was hacked to death last week near his home in Dhaka.

In recent weeks Haider and fellow bloggers had launched huge protests demanding a ban on the largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, and the execution of its leaders for alleged war crimes in the 1971 independence conflict with Pakistan.

Since Haider’s death, Bangladeshi social media has been flooded with his alleged blog posts and with those by other bloggers mocking Islam, triggering protests by a number of Islamic groups and clerics.

Despite the gruesome death of one blogger, that last paragraph ought to give us some hope. In response to violence, other bloggers didn’t back away from criticism. Instead, they “blasphemed” even harder. I hope they keep doing it until the extremists realize they can’t contain the criticism and give up altogether. These are cowards who think violence and suppression will help preserve their barbaric, ancient traditions. It won’t work. But it’ll takes the courage of thousands of bloggers and critics, anonymous or not, to set them straight.

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