Dhaka (AsiaNews) - "Bangladesh is not a safe country for bloggers, but we will continue to write as long as we have breath. The Islamic radicals are cowards, they have no morals. They should learn tolerance from other faiths ". With these words, a Catholic blogger, anonymous for security reasons, commeted to AsiaNews on the latest threatening letter against intellectuals and activists who campaign agains religious fanaticism, delivered by post to the media.
The letter contains a list of 19 people - including ministers, teachers, activists and members of the Ganajagaran Mancha movement - and is signed by an unknown group, "Ittahadul Mujahidin". No name or address, but only the post office code, in Sylhet, a city north-east of the country.
The letter is the latest in a long series of threats and violence in Bangladesh. It is the second letter addressed to the activists, after the first delivered in May by the extremist group "Al Kaida Ansarullah Bangla Team 13", which promised a “just death" to those who criticize Islam. The first name of the new list is that of the blogger Niladri Chatterjee Niloy, hacked to death with an ax under the eyes of his mother and sister on August 8. The name of Niloy - the fourth blogger killed so far this year - is already crossed out in red ink.
The list includes the names of 19 other people including several politicians, such as Education Minister, Nurul Islam Nahid, Minister of Welfare, Syed Mohsin Ali, and the deputy Minister Suranjit Sengupta. Intellectuals Makbul Hossain (from the progressiveUdichi Shilpagoshthi group ), writers Muhammad Zafar Iqbal and Ananya Azad, sculptors Ferdousi Priyabhashini and Abdur Rahman, and activists of the Ganajagaran Mancha [secular and anti-fundamentalist movement - ed.] The largest component of the recipients threat remains bloggers: Arif Jebtik, Sushanta Dasgupta, Arifur Rahman, Omi Rahman Pial, Nirjhar Majumder, Dr Atik, Ashfaque Anup and Nur Nabi Dulal.
Those listed were described as ‘satanic bloggers’, ’enemies of Islam and madrasa education’, ‘atheists’, and ‘Sylhet-haters’.
For some time Muslim extremists have been targeting free thinkers and democracy activists, justifying their murder because they are "atheists". A few days ago the members of Ansar al-Islam, an organization which has links to al-Qaeda in the Indian sub-continent (AQIS), claimed responsibility for the murder of Niloy. Before him, the radicals murdered Avijt Roy, in February near the University of Dhaka; in late March, in the capital, Muslim fundamentalists hacked to death with machetes Oyasiqur Rahman ; two months later it was the turn of Ananta Bijoy Das, , killed in Sylhet. All were part of the Ganajagaran Mancha movement .