11/03/2015, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Catholic Church strongly condemns murder of secular intellectuals

by Sumon Corraya
Msgr. Gervas Rozario denounces the assassination of publisher Dipan and wounding of another publisher and three bloggers. Intellectuals are targeted by Islamic fundamentalists for their democratic ideas. So far in 2015 four bloggers have been murdered and many fled abroad. Bishop: "If we are not careful, enlightened and aware of human values, we cannot stop the rise in violence."

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church of Bangladesh harshly condemns the murder of a progressive publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan and the continued attacks on bloggers and secular intellectuals who are being targeted by Islamic fundamentalists for their democratic ideas.

Msgr. Gervas Rozario, Bishop of Rajshahi and president of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of Bangladesh, told AsiaNews: "I'm really saddened by the horrible way in which criminal terrorists murder bloggers. These intellectuals can contribute much to the development of society and the country. Their only crime is to be free thinkers who believe in freedom of conscience and expression ".

The condemnation of the Catholic leader comes a few days after the murder of publisher Dipan, gunned down in his office in Dhaka in broad daylight because he had published secular texts. On the same day, also in the capital, another publisher and three bloggers were attacked and stabbed, because guilty of criticizing the Muslim religious fanaticism.

The bishop continued: "I have no words to express my sadness. I only pray that God may give light of conscience and truth, common sense and the human spirit to those who responsible for these immoral and unacceptable acts".

The publisher is in fact only the latest in a long line of intellectuals murdered because they do not share the ideology of violent Islamic fundamentalism. For some time, Muslim extremists have been targeting free thinkers and democracy activists, justifying their killing by calling their victims "atheists".

Ahmed Rajib Haider was the first blogger to be killed for his “anti-Islam" ideas in 2013. So far this year, four other bloggers have lost their lives. In February Avijt Roy was murdered near the University Dhaka; in late March, also in the capital, Muslim fundamentalists hacked to death Oyasiqur Rahman; two months later, it was the turn of Ananta Bijoy Das, who was murdered in Sylhet; and finally, Niloy Chakrabarti was killed, execution style, in August in broad daylight, under the eyes of his mother and sister.

In such an atmosphere of fear, 12 bloggers have been pushed to leave the country, concerned about further attacks after the publication of a series of threatening letters sent to the press, in which they are named as the next targets.

Msgr. Rozario, who is also president of Caritas Bangladesh, says: "It is the duty of the government to stop the violence, but the government is not enough. All of Bangladeshi society needs to be educated and made aware of the evil acts of these radicals. Religious leaders and families can do much for the social good. Political leaders then must have the political will to stop these attacks. Everyone can have an active role. "
The bishop concluded by stressing the importance of human values ​​for the welfare of the country: "The Christian community is shocked by the brutality of these killings which continue. It is not an easy task, but the government needs to be vigilant and fight the culprits. If all we are not careful, enlightened and aware of human values, we will not be able to stop the rise in violence".

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