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Slain US blogger's widow voices fury at Bangladesh police

DHAKA: The widow of an American atheist blogger who was murdered in Bangladesh last month accused police Wednesday of standing idle while he was being hacked to death with machetes in downtown Dhaka.

In her first statement since the February 26 attack in which she herself was badly injured, Rafida Bonya Ahmed said her husband Avijit Roy was murdered because he “critiqued religious fundamentalism”.

“As his wife, fellow writer, and a freethinker, I strongly condemn this gruesome act of terror,” she said in an emailed statement to AFP from her home in the United States.

“While Avijit and I were being ruthlessly attacked, the local police stood close by and did not act.”

Witnesses said Roy and wife had been returning from a book fair when they were both hauled off their rickshaw on a busy street in the centre of the capital by at least two assailants who then slashed them with machetes.

Ahmed, who lost a finger in the attack, was initially treated for her injuries in Bangladesh before being flown home to the United States.

Bangladesh-born Roy, who emigrated to the southern state of Georgia some 15 years ago, was well known in his native land for his Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog where he railed against all forms of organised religion.

He was also the author of a series of books, including the best-selling “The Virus of Faith”, which was hugely contentious in Bangladesh, an officially secular state where around 90 percent of people are Muslim.

In her statement, Ahmed called on the Bangladeshi government to “do everything in its power to bring the murderers to justice”.

Bangladeshi security forces last week arrested Islamic “fundamentalist blogger” Farabi Shafiur Rahman Farabi in connection with the killing. He was subsequently remanded in custody to allow further questioning.

Roy was the second atheist blogger to have been murdered in Bangladesh in the last two years and the fourth writer to have been attacked since 2004.

His killing was greeted with uproar both at home and abroad, with Washington condemning the “shocking act of violence” as an assault on the country’s “proud tradition” of free speech. -AFP

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