Rezaul Karim Siddiquee is the latest victim in a string of targeted killings of secular bloggers, writers and professors in Bangladesh.
Siddiquee, a professor of English was hacked to death in Rajshahi on Saturday morning. The attackers even tried to behead him.
People gather around the body of Rezaul Karim Siddiquee after the attack. Md. Abdullah Iqbal /AFP
The 61-year-old professor was just a few feet away from his home when the Islamist radicals attacked him. Police says that 2-3 attackers arrived on a motorcycle with machetes and other sharp weapons.
The method of Siddiquee’s killing bears a striking similarity with the killing of Avijit Roy, a secular blogger. Roy too was hacked to death when he was returning from a book fair on February 26, 2015.
This is the second major killing in Rajshahi. In November of 2014, a sociology professor of Rajshahi University was hacked to death on his way home from the campus. That professor, Shafiul Islam, was a proponent of reformation among Muslim women and had objected to wearing of burqa during examinations. Fundamentalists did not like his suggestion and killed him.
Protestors take out a march condemning the killing of Shafiul Islam and demanding justice. AFP
Just a few days back on April 6, an atheist student Nazimuddin Samad was hacked to death at a busy intersection in Dhaka.
Police officers said Siddiquee had never published any materials critical of Islam and had never received threats. In fact, the slain professor taught his students poetry of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, both of whom are equally revered in Bangladesh.
Prof Siddiquee.Mohammad Abdullah Iqbal/AFP/Getty Images
Attacks against minorities, atheists and those critical of Islam have been common in Bangladesh but these intensified since 2013.
Asif Mohiuddin, Ahmed Rajib Haider, Sunnyur Rahaman, Oyasiqur Rhaman, Ananta Bijoy Das, Niloy Neel, and Faisal Arefin Dipan are some of the prominent names who have been killed by Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh.
Rajshahi University students lead a protest march inside the campus condemning the killing of Prof Siddiquee. Dhaka Tribune
The police have mostly failed in nabbing the culprits, let alone bring them to justice. The killers have been labelled terrorists but Bangladesh’s fragmented society means they have a safe haven for themselves. On one side is a deeply religious group ready to align with the country’s war criminals who sided with Pakistan in 1971. On the other side is a modern, secular thinking society. In such a scenario, Siddiquee’s killing will definitely not be the last.