Condemnation of the murder of Avijit Roy on Feb 26, 2015

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia unequivocally condemns the murder of Avijit Roy on February 26, 2015, on the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Dr. Avijit Roy was a naturalized American citizen of Bangladeshi origin. An engineer by profession, he wrote on themes related to science, philosophy, religion, and society. More than a decade ago he founded a popular internet forum Mukto-Mona (Open Mind) that has been a strong voice against religious intolerance.

His last two books (written in Bangla) are on cosmology (titled “Universe out of Nothing”) and on the friendship between Rabindranath Tagore and the Argentinian writer Victoria Ocampo. “The Philosophy of Atheists” and “The Virus of Faith”, also written in Bangla, focused on science, religion, and rationalism. For the thoughts that were espoused in these books and in Mukto-Mona, Avijit Roy received several death threats last year, including the warning that he would be killed upon his return to Bangladesh.

In accordance with the threat, Avijit Roy was killed ten days after his arrival in February 2015, on a public street with knives and machetes in full view of onlookers. His wife Rafida Ahmed Banna was also attacked. Currently, she is in critical condition in a Dhaka hospital.

The murder of Abhijit follows the same pattern as in the earlier killings of blogger Rajib Haider (February 2013), Prof. Shafiul Islam of Rajshahi University (November 2014), Prof. Yunus (also of Rajshahi University) (December 2004), and the attack on Prof. Humayun Azad of Dhaka University (February 2004).

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia is alarmed by the killing of free-thinking intellectuals, clearly aimed at stifling secular and creative thinking, and call upon all to condemn these crimes. We implore citizens of Bangladesh, organizations, and political parties, in power or in opposition, to work together and fight against extreme religious orthodoxy that has resulted in the heinous killing of Dr. Avijit Roy.

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