The Dhaka Tribune reports that Nazimuddin Samad, 28, a masters student, was killed in Old Dhaka last night by suspected Islamist militants chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’.
He was attacked around 8:30pm by three assailants while walking to his home in Gendaria with another youth after completing university classes.
The youth accompanying the victim has not been seen since the incident, police said.
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.
Shamir Chandra Sutradhar, inspector (investigation) of Sutrapur police station, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Even though the spot was crowded at the time of the murder, they are not sharing any information with the police. “However, we are trying to identify the assailants by talking to the shopkeepers and residents of the area.”
The Chair of the APPG for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jim Shannon MP, and Co-Chair Baroness Berridge, have strongly condemned this tragic outrage.
Tributes and alarmed messages are flooding in on Nazimuddin’s personal Facebook page, where he regularly posted atheist and feminist criticism of Islam. He was critical both of the Islamist political parties, and against the failings of the current government. Shortly before he was killed, he wrote a post implying that the ruling Awami League party would fall if it did not make swift changes, writing (in Bengali): “The situation of the country, deterioration of law and order in the country, speak that maybe you cannot stay long in power.”
President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Andrew Copson, commented:
“It is clear from Nazimuddin’s Facebook posts and protest activity that he was a politically and socially engaged young man. He offered criticisms of certain radical religious figures and doctrines, thoughts of a kind that many people, not just atheists and humanists but also many religious people, express all over the world, every day.
“Every time a thoughtful and honest person like Nazimuddin is hacked or gunned down, apparently for doing nothing more than speaking their minds on secularist, political and religious topics, we and others will make a point of finding out what he said, what he did, what he wrote about, and sharing it. It will be seen by more people than ever would have seen it before. And we will remember his name and the growing list of names of those who were singled out and killed, by small-minded, hateful extremists who appear to think that words can be killed. They cannot.”
A post on the Bangla secular blogging platform Mukto-Mona (“Free Mind”) has responded to the attack saying, “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.”
In 2015, four bloggers variously identifying as humanist, atheist and freethinkers, as well as one publisher of secular books, were killed by groups of men in machete attacks.