Allahu Akbar? Machete-wielding assailants hack to death an American atheist and blogger critical of Islamic extremism in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.
Avijit Roy, a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi origin and founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog site, was attacked and killed on Thursday while returning from a book fair.
In addition, Roy’s wife and fellow blogger, Rafida Ahmed, was seriously injured in the attack.
Roy and his wife lived in Atlanta, Georgia, and were visiting Bangladesh when they were attacked.
A previously unknown militant group, “Ansar Bangla 7,” claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Assistant Police Commissioner S.M. Shibly Noman.
The group said Roy “was the target because of his crime against Islam,” on their Twitter account. That account has since been deleted.
IBT reports the group posted graphic photos taken at the scene where Roy was attacked with slogans celebrating his death, such as:
Allahu Akbar…A great success today here in Bangladesh.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the attack “a shocking act of violence” that was “horrific in its brutality and cowardice.”
Roy, who was 42, is the second Bangladeshi blogger to have been murdered in two years and the fourth writer to have been attacked since 2004.
Roy was a prominent advocate of the freethought movement in Bangladesh. His blog, Mukto-Mona, was a celebrated congregation of freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, atheists, and humanists of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent.
About the brutal and tragic killing, Pinaki Bhattacharya, a fellow blogger and a friend of Roy’s, said:
In Bangladesh the easiest target is an atheist. An atheist can be attacked and murdered.
Bangladesh is the world’s fourth-largest Muslim majority nation, with Muslims making up some 90 percent of the country’s 160 million people. Hardline Islamist groups have long demanded the public killing of atheist bloggers and sought new laws to deal with writing critical of Islam.
In 2013, over 100,00 Muslims rioted in Bangladesh chanting “Atheists must be hanged,” and demanding the death penalty for the crime of blasphemy.