A court in Bangladesh has sentenced two people to death for the killing of atheist blogger Rajib Haider in 2013. The Muslim majority country has witnessed several attacks and the killings of independent writers in the past year.
There were eight accused in the hacking death of Haider, including students Faisal bin Nayem and Rezwanul Azad Rana who have been reportedly sentenced to death by a special trial tribunal in the capital city of Dhaka.
According to local reports, Mufti Jashimuddin Rahmani — chief of Ansarullah Bangla Team, an al Qaeda-inspired militant group — was named the “instigator” in Haider’s killing. And the other convicts in the case — all students of North South University — were followers of Rahmani's sermons. Rahmani was sentenced to five years in prison.
Haider, an architect by profession, was hacked to death on Feb. 15, 2013, near his home in Dhaka’s Mirpur suburb. His death was the first in a series of blogger killings in Bangladesh over the past few months.
Several independent writers have been targets of Islamist militants over the years. Among those killed in 2015 were four bloggers hacked or stabbed to death in Bangladesh, including American-Bangladeshi writer Avijit Roy.
Roy, founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog, was killed in February. A month later, Washiqur Rahman, who reportedly wrote "against religious fundamentalism," was hacked to death in March.
In May, Ananta Bijoy Das, a secular blogger, was killed by masked men “with machetes” in the city of Sylhet, about 147 miles northeast of Dhaka. Das reportedly wrote for Roy’s blog.
In August, Niloy Neel, an organizer of the Science and Rationalist Association of Bangladesh, who had written critical pieces about religion, was killed by at least four men who reportedly entered his apartment building posing as tenants.