April 26, 2016

ISIS Hacks to Death Gay Academic,Activist in Bangladesh

A portrait of Bangladeshi academic Rezaul Karim Siddique.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the murder of a university professor who was hacked to death in Bangladesh, adding to a grisly death toll linked to religious intolerance in the country.
Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, a professor of English at the University of Rajshahi in northwest Bangladesh, was waiting for a bus near his house on Saturday when two men approached on a motorbike and attacked him.
“We don’t even know why Professor Siddique has been killed,” journalist and author Afsan Chowdhury told The Australian yesterday.
“I’ve been talking to Rajshahi University teachers and students. Some could not even recognise Professor Siddique — he was ­almost an invisible person on campus.”
The SITE Intelligence Groupthat monitors jihadist networks says Islamic State claimed to have killed Professor Siddique for “calling to atheism”.
The government of Bangladesh has denied Islamic State has a presence in the country.
The Muslim-majority nation of 160 million has seen a surge in violent attacks in which members of minority Muslim sects and other religious groups have been targeted. Five secular bloggers and a publisher have been hacked to death in Bangladesh since ­February last year.
Islamic State has also claimed responsibility for the killings of two foreigners, and attacks on mosques and Christian priests in Bangladesh since September, but police said that local militant group the ­Jamaat-ul-Mujaheddin was behind those attacks. At least five militants have been killed in shootouts since November as ­security forces have stepped up a crackdown on Islamist militants looking to establish a sharia-based Muslim state.
Badiul Alam Majumdar, the director of the Hunger Project in Bangladesh and founder of Citizens for Good Government, said while the government of Bangladesh claimed Islamic State did not exist, “the government has a credibility gap”.
The police had failed to make any credible arrests relating to ­numerous attacks and, while “we would like to believe the government, when they say there is no Islamic State here we are in the dark as to who the real perpetrators are”.
“I am not one to mince my words and have been prepared to speak out,” he told The Australian. “And, yes, I am frightened of what may happen as a result of that.”
He said Professor Siddique had apparently been a quiet, deeply religious Muslim who had wanted to promote traditional Bengali culture and music.
He had founded a music school and edited a literary magazine and his family have said he was not an atheist.
Police said he may have been targeted by extremists because he was involved in cultural activities, particularly music.
Dr Majumdar said if he was targeted for those reasons, “then nobody is safe”.
He said the government did not appear to have any effective strategy to deal with rising Islamist fundamentalism.
“We have lost confidence in the police,” said journalist Afsan Chowdhury. “It’s much more a failure of the police. There are now several murder cases that have never been resolved.”

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