“We Will Not Be Terrorized into Silence”: Statement on the Murder of Atheist Blogger Washiqur Rahman

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

Barely a month following the brutal murder of our friend, freethought writer Avijit Roy in Bangladesh, and the near-killing of his wife Rafida Bonya Ahmed, atheist blogger Washiqur Rahman has been killed by a group of Islamic extremists in Dhaka. A young man at age 27, Rahman was far less well-known than Dr. Roy, but his public expressions of admiration for Roy, and his courageous criticism of religion were sufficiently threatening to these extremist thugs that they tried to silence him as they silenced Dr. Roy.

But they will find that just as was the case with the murder of Dr. Roy, the power of the ideals and principles Washiqur Rahman championed will now only become a more potent force, and the hateful and backward ideology of his killers will be exposed to the world. Violent Islamic extremists think they will scare their critics into silence and submission, but their barbarity will only serve to strengthen the unity and resolve of those who believe in the fundamental right to free expression — which includes the right to criticize, question, and reject religion. 

While two suspects are reportedly in the custody of Bangladeshi authorities, the fact that this latest act was able to occur so soon after the murder of Dr. Roy is deeply troubling. The government of Bangladesh and the civil authorities of Dhaka must redouble their efforts to bring all of these perpetrators to justice, just as Rafida Bonya Ahmed demanded weeks ago. But they must also take much more seriously the threat posed to those who have publicly espoused atheism or religious doubt, and those who have dared to criticize religion. This organized and calculated effort to silence free thought and free expression in Bangladesh must be thoroughly investigated and directly challenged.

At the Center for Inquiry, we will continue to stand for these freedoms and lend our support to those in all parts of the world who fight for the freedom to speak, question, and believe — or not believe — as they choose. We, and our friends and allies, will not be terrorized into silence.

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.