For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
November 06, 2017
Four years ago, the Center for Inquiry formed a bond with a brilliant writer and science communicator in Bangladesh, Avijit Roy. Several atheist bloggers had been arrested for “hurting religious feelings,” and we coordinated with Avijit to organize protests in locations around the world to demand their release.
In 2015, Avijit was murdered. He and his wife Rafida Bonya Ahmed were ambushed by Islamist militants at a book fair in Dhaka. Bonya suffered terrible injuries, and Avijit was hacked to death. It was a killing that heralded a wave of such murders in the months and years following, targeting secularist writers and activists. As a way to honor the memory of our friend Avijit Roy, and to support the cause of free expression, the Center for Inquiry established Secular Rescue, an initiative to provide assistance and relocation to activists whose lives are threatened by religious extremists. More than 30 people have been helped through this program so far.
Today it has been reported that one of the men believed to have participated in the attack on Avijit and Bonya has been arrested by Bangladeshi authorities. Abu Siddiq Sohel, allegedly a member of the al Qaeda-linked organization Ansar Ullah Bangla Team, reportedly told police that he had been a part of the attack.
The Center for Inquiry has no way of confirming the accuracy of these reports. We have some reason to be skeptical of any official news surrounding the murders of secularist activists, as the government of Bangladesh has been overtly hostile toward the victims of these attacks, blaming them for their own deaths and denouncing their writings. We declared the official response to the killings “appalling,” and called upon the authorities to defend free expression rather than foment anger and hate.
For the sake of Avijit’s family and friends, secularist writers in Bangladesh, and for the sake of justice, we truly hope that all of Avijit’s killers will be apprehended and fairly tried. The Center for Inquiry will be watching these events closely as they develop.
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at www.centerforinquiry.net.