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Atheist student blogger hacked to death

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Humanist Society Scotland says atheists are being targetted after barbaric killing in Bangladesh.

Atheists are being targeted around the world because of their beliefs, the head of the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) has said.

Gordon MacRae made the claim following the death of 28-year-old atheist student, Nazimuddin Samad, killed in Bangladesh on Wednesday night by a suspected Islamist militant.

Samad, a law student, was known as a secularist activist. He had used his Facebook page to express concerns over the country's laws and criticised Islamism. Local police confirmed he was attacked by a group with machetes and then shot in the Old Dhaka area.

MacRae condemned the killing adding he was aware of other similar incidents and called on the Bangladesh authorities to take action.

"This is a dark day for people around the world who share our passion for fundamental human rights,” MacRae said.

Atheist student blogger hacked to death

The ability to challenge authority, even to mock and ridicule it, is fundamental to democracy

Gordon MacRae

"The ability to challenge authority, even to mock and ridicule it, is fundamental to democracy. Those of us who share an internationalist perspective know that fundamental human rights and democracy are for everyone, and we can see that Nazimuddin Samad also shared this view.

"Nazimuddin Samad was a politically engaged young man who saw injustice around him. In the face of threats and intimidation from fundamentalist bullies, he continued to make the argument for an open, plural society.”

Samad seems to have been aware of the potential risk he was in, with a friend taking to Facebook page to warn him to be careful.

He replied to his friend: "I am also scared, Sir, scared of getting killed. But what else can I do? It’s better to die rather than living by keeping my head down."

MacRae continued: "Sadly Nazimuddin Samad is not the first to be murdered for daring to challenge religious authority, and it’s unlikely he will be the last.

"We will honour his bravery in the only way that we can, by redoubling our efforts to support atheists, Humanists and secularists around the world who are campaigning tirelessly each day for the right to think for themselves."

In December 2015 HSS drew attention to a new report highlighting a rise in organised violent attacks on atheists and humanists around the world.

The organisation identified four bloggers variously identifying as humanist, atheist and freethinkers, as well as one publisher of secular books, being killed by groups of men in machete attacks in 2015.

Prithu Sanyal, a Bangladeshi-based blogger, commented: "In spite of the recent pause in the assassination of online activists, this attack demonstrates that this new killing is clearly part of a growing trend which undermines the freedom of expression in Bangladesh.

“All free thinkers, bloggers and online activists of Bangladesh are in a grave danger. Most of them are keeping themselves hidden from public places. Some have left the country.

"The government is always silent on such killing issue late alone taking proper steps.”

A spokesperson for the International Humanist and Ethical Union added: “Every time a thoughtful and honest person like Nazimuddin is hacked or gunned down, apparently for doing nothing more than speaking their minds on secularist, political and religious topics, we and others will make a point of finding out what he said, what he did, what he wrote about, and sharing it.”