An Islamic militant group in Bangladesh published a list of secular bloggers, writers and activists across the world, threatening to kill them unless its demands were met, according to a report Wednesday.
The targets include nine bloggers from the U.K., seven in Germany, two in the U.S., one in Canada and one in Sweden. Some are Bangladeshi citizens living abroad, while others are dual citizens or Western nationals.
“Cancel the Bangladeshi citizenship of enemies of Islam and [Muslim religious] education, atheists, apostates, unbelievers, anti-Islamic ... bloggers, agents of India ... otherwise they will be killed wherever they can be found in the Almighty’s world,” the group said in a statement said, according to the Guardian.
The list was issued by the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which has been linked to a series of murders of secular bloggers and activists in Bangladesh over the last two years.
The ABT’s acting leader, Mohammad Abul Bashar, and his two associates, were arrested earlier this month in Dhaka for their involvement in the killing of Bangladeshi-American secular blogger and science writer Avijit Roy. The death of the 42-year-old in February had prompted an international outcry.
The individuals on the hit list said they would not stop their activities in the wake of the threat. “Our weapon is [the] pen, and we can use it without hurting anybody. We just want to make people conscious about their rights. So that nobody can use them to fulfill bad intentions,” Ananya Azad, a Bangladeshi blogger in exile, told the Guardian. Targeted bloggers based in Britain have also reportedly approached police officials and have taken precautions to minimize the risk of attack.
Writers in Bangladesh, especially those critical of Islam, have often been targeted by groups seeking to convert the Muslim-majority country’s secular system of law into a Shariah-based state.
In August, Niloy Neel was murdered in Dhaka, and two people were taken into custody in relation to the attack. In May, Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death by masked assailants with machetes in the city of Sylhet, northeast of Dhaka. Das wrote blog posts for Mukto-Mona (Free-mind), a website founded by Roy. In March, Washiqur Rahman, a blogger who decried religious fundamentalism, was killed in a similar attack near his Dhaka home.