Bangladeshi secular publisher murdered, al-Qaeda takes credit

Faisal Arefin Dipon, 43, was found hacked to death in his third-floor office at Jagriti Publishing House in Dhaka, Bangladesh this past Saturday, according to officials. He was lying in a pool of his own blood, with a slashed neck and severed body parts. Such is the life secular media in the country.

This type of attack is not unprecedented. Mere hours earlier, armed men burst into the Shudhdhoswar publishing house, shot and stabbed one publisher and two writers, locked them away, and fled the scene of the crime. In February, a secular Bangladeshi-American blogger named Avajit Roy was also hacked to death in a similar manner to that of Dipon. Coincidentally, both publishing houses that were under attack on Saturday disseminated the work of Roy. Three separate bloggers have also been targeted in the months since the incident.

After the murder of Dipon, the local al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam took credit for the murder via online messages. He claimed that the publishers had promoted the works of blasphemous individuals and threatened to continue murdering such people until they cease their heretical efforts.

The fight for humans rights of expression is ongoing in Bangladesh. While some openly speak out against the government and extremist Islamic tenets that attempt to keep them quiet, those same extremists have proven to be more than willing to make examples of them with acts of violence. The Ansarullah Bangla Team and Islamic State have also claimed to take part in various other crimes, and several have gone unclaimed. Not all the victims are Bangladeshi, either – and Italian aid worker and a Japanese agricultural worker have been accounted, as well.

While the government recognizes the groups that commit the crimes and denounces their actions, little has been done to bring them to justice. Whether it is out of fear that one of their own members would become the next target, or whether it is because of another reason entirely, the fight for expression continues and the complicit groups remain at large.

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