A Wave of killings reveals the rise of Islamist terrorism in Bangladesh
Niladry Chattopadhya was in his apartment in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, around noon on Aug. 7, when there was a knock on his door. “Without opening the door, I asked, ‘Who is it?'” remembers his wife, Asha Moni. It was a young man who said their landlord had sent him to view their apartment, as he was thinking of renting a similar unit that was locked. Moni let him in. Minutes later, three men barged through and brutally hacked Chattopadhya to death with a machete.
Born a decade and a half after Bangladesh won its independence from Pakistan in 1971, Chattopadhya believed in the founding ideals of his country: Muslim but secular, united by the Bengali language and its tolerant culture. In 2013, the 27-year-old blogger joined street protests known as the Shahbag movement that demanded capital sentences for pro-Pakistan Islamist leaders found guilty of war crimes during the independence fight. (Two have been executed since 2013.) Backing them today were radicals bent on turning Bangladesh into a hard-line religious state–the same radicals who eventually murdered Chattopadhya.
Chattopadhya’s was the fifth such killing since the 2013 protests, making him the latest victim of a violent clash between radicals and Bangladesh’s embattled liberals. “In a sense, we won independence in 1971, but we are still fighting the long war for Bangladesh,” says K. Anis Ahmed, publisher of the Dhaka Tribune newspaper.
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