An atheist blogger in Bangladesh has been stabbed repeatedly by three suspected Islamist fundamentalists and is currently in critical condition in a local hospital.
Asif Mohiuddin, 29, was attacked earlier this week as he was leaving work at night in Dhaka, when a group of unidentified men jumped him and stabbed him repeatedly. Mohiuddin is one of the nation's most well-known atheists, and runs a Bengali blog titled "Almighty only in name, but impotent in reality," which is one of Bangladesh's most visited websites.
"We operated on him for more than three hours. He is improving but still not out of danger. He has six deep cuts including two grave ones in the shoulder," Haridas Saha, a surgeon at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told AFP News agency.
The news has been met with widespread condemnation especially among secularists, who are demanding that the Muslim-dominated country, where Islam is a state religion, do more to protect the human rights of its citizens. Although the perpetrators have not yet been found, many suspect that Mohiuddin's atheist posts and his commentaries on free speech and human right issues are most likely the reason for the attack.
"The nature of the cuts proved that the attackers wanted to murder him," Saha added, revealing that friends of Mohiuddin who were with him at the time of the attack said that Islamic "fundamentalists" were behind the incident.
"Asif did absolutely nothing to deserve this. Even if he had insulted people instead of ideas, he wouldn't have deserved this. This is faith-based madness, and every decent person should stand in his defense. To accuse him of doing anything wrong means supporting his attackers for using violent methods to control non-violent speech," wrote Hemant Mehta, who runs the Friendly Atheist blog.
The Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) reported that this is not the first time the Bengali blogger has been targeted. In Oct. 2011, Mohiuddin was arrested and reportedly abused by police who accused him of inciting a student protest through his blog. The activist was allegedly blindfolded, starved, and kept awake as a form of torture, while authorities tried to have him sign a statement pledging never to use social media again.
"We condemn this attack on Asif Mohiuddin and call on authorities to fully investigate and ensure the perpetrators brought to justice," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney.
Bangladesh has often faced condemnation for human right abuses and suppression of free speech. In another infamous case, Humayun Azad, a poet, novelist and literature professor who wrote a number of satirical novels against religious fundamentalism, was attacked by Islamic militants in 2004, and later died in Germany.