“‘In general, people think they have done the right thing, that it’s not unjustifiable to kill’ the bloggers, gay people and other secularists, he added.” In the face of the popular support for these jihad murders, the government is capitulating: “As a result, even as the government has condemned the killings, it has urged writers not to criticize Islam and warned that advocating ‘unnatural sex’ is a criminal offense.” In other words, just stay quiet and you’ll be OK: give the jihadis what they want and maybe, just maybe, they won’t kill us.
“The Bangladeshi authorities say that they now believe they have identified the top leadership of the two groups they say are responsible, and that they are preparing to round them up. Only when the leaders are caught, they caution, will the attacks be stopped, and at that, only for a while if the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism is not blunted.” How will “the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism” ever be “blunted,” in Bangladesh or anywhere else, while everyone remains afraid to confront “Islamic fundamentalism,” and instead capitulates to it at every turn?
“Bangladesh Says It Now Knows Who’s Killing the Bloggers,” by Geeta Anano and Julfikar Ali Manik, New York Times, June 8, 2016:
DHAKA, Bangladesh — The young man, inching past a crowded checkpoint near a truck stand in Bangladesh’s capital, caught the attention of an alert police officer.
His backpack, together with his appearance, from the unshaven beard to the long Punjabi tunic over baggy pants, set off the suspicion that he was an Islamist militant. The man was arrested after he was found to be carrying a machete, an unregistered pistol and six bullets.
The discovery of the weapons raised alarms. For the last three years, atheist writers, freethinkers, foreigners, religious minorities, gay rights activists and others have been terrorized and killed in Bangladesh by shadowy figures who have struck with machetes and sped off on motorbikes.
Little was known about the attackers, except that they were Islamist radicals, and that their assaults have been coming with ever-greater frequency this year.
The detained man refused to discuss much, saying only that he was Saiful Islam, 23 years old and a teacher at a local madrasa, or Islamic school.
But the picture filled in six days later, when two 19-year-old men, arrested after running from the site of another fatal attack, identified the madrasa teacher as a fellow conspirator. That touched off a cascade of revelations that, for the first time, has allowed the Bangladeshi authorities to penetrate the murky world of the attackers and answer questions about the planning, execution and purpose of the attacks that have baffled the country — and, indeed, the world — since the violence began.
At least 39 people have been killed in attacks with machetes, guns and bombs since February 2013. The killings, mostly with machete blows to the back of the victim’s neck, have been accelerating lately, with five people murdered in April, four in May and at least three so far in June.
On Sunday, a Christian grocer and the wife of a police superintendent who had been cracking down on militant attacks were killed in separate strikes. On Tuesday, a Hindu priest was killed in southwestern Bangladesh.
In a lengthy interview, the chief of the police counterterrorism unit, Monirul Islam, who assumed his post in February, laid out the findings of his investigation in minute detail.
The killings were organized by two militant Islamic groups that have gathered volunteers and recruits, trained them and eventually seeded them into cells run by a commander, Mr. Islam said. They have tried to pick their targets with care, with the aim of gaining support from the public, he said, and trained teams of killers. Their goal was to convert Bangladesh’s mixed secular and religious culture to an Islamist one, the chief investigator said.
The Bangladeshi authorities say that they now believe they have identified the top leadership of the two groups they say are responsible, and that they are preparing to round them up. Only when the leaders are caught, they caution, will the attacks be stopped, and at that, only for a while if the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism is not blunted.
Secular Versus Islamists
Bangladesh, a nation with a Muslim majority adjoining eastern India, gained independence from Pakistan in a vicious war in 1971 and established a secular, democratic government. A military coup in 1975 led to more than three decades of mostly military-backed governments sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalists, until a secular government returned to power in 2009 with an overwhelming majority. But secularism is far from universally accepted in Bangladesh, and has always had to contend with a conservative Islamic culture.
To a surprising extent, the militants have succeeded in their aim of discrediting secularism, the chief investigator said.
“In general, people think they have done the right thing, that it’s not unjustifiable to kill” the bloggers, gay people and other secularists, he added.
They have also put the secular government on the defensive. As a result, even as the government has condemned the killings, it has urged writers not to criticize Islam and warned that advocating “unnatural sex” is a criminal offense….