Bangladesh blogger Niloy Neel murdered in Dhaka

The BBC reports that a Bangladeshi blogger known for his atheist views has been hacked to death by a gang armed with machetes in the capital Dhaka, police say.

Niloy Neel was heavily involved in the secularist movement as an organiser for the Science and Rationalist Association Bangladesh. He worked for an NGO and recently completed his Master’s degree in Philosophy.He is the fourth secularist blogger to have been killed this year by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh.

Imran H Sarkar, head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, told the BBC that Mr Neel had been an anti-extremist voice of reason. “He was the voice against fundamentalism and extremism and was even a voice for minority rights – especially women’s rights and the rights of indigenous people,” he said.

BBC World Service South Asia editor Charles Haviland says that, like previous victims, Mr Neel was not only secular but atheist and, like two of the others, he was from a Hindu, not a Muslim, background.

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the BHA and President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, has challenged the UK Government to act on the growing crisis in Bangladesh.

He said: “This latest murder demonstrates once again if further proof were needed that the culture of impunity for these Islamist vigilantes in Bangladesh has become firmly entrenched. We are calling on the UK Government to act swiftly to demonstrate its commitment to freedom of religion or belief and free expression to the Government of Bangladesh.

“The UK has a duty of conscience to urge this Commonwealth member, with which we have such strong links, to restore freedom and the rule of law and to protect its humanist bloggers.”