The Islamic extremist attacks appear to be continuing unabated in Bangladesh where Muslim extremists are targeting the free speech community. The latest victim is publisher Faisal Arefin Deepan of the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house, a truly courageous voice for free speech and human rights. Deepen was murdered in his office, the latest in a campaign of terror launched against writers and publishers. Earlier publisher Ahmed Rahim Tutul and two writers were shot and stabbed by three men in the office of the Shudhdhoswar publishing house.
The extreme poverty and low educational levels in Bangladesh make the country an ideal recruiting ground for Muslim extremists. They are targeting atheists, secularists, and writers as enemies of Islamic values.
Extremists have also killed two foreigners — an Italian aid worker and a Japanese agricultural worker.
Deepan was the son of a noted Bangladesh writer Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq and owns Jagritee Publishers.
What is interesting is that, much like extremist Islamic countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, bloggers have been targeted as a threat to the blind orthodoxy being taught by some Islamic groups. As we previously discussed, Anant Bijoy Das, 32, was attacked with cleavers and machetes in May as he left his home on his way to work at a bank in northeastern Bangladesh. In September, Niloy Neel was hacked to death in his Dhaka apartment.
In a tragically ironic twist, the attacks on writers and bloggers reaffirms the power of free speech. These Muslim groups recognize that they cannot teach extremist orthodoxy if people are exposed to new ideas and informed of basic human rights. If their vision of an Islamic state is to prevail, they clearly believe that secularists must be killed or chased from the country. The true tragedy is that free speech is on the decline in the West, as we have been discussing, where Western leaders are yielding to the demand that some must be forced into silence to achieve the appearance of a tolerant and pluralistic society. The opposite is true. True freedom is based first and foremost on free speech. The violence of these extremists shows that there is a clear choice for Western Civilization and that choice remains the same after hundreds of years: free speech versus tyranny. While we seem to have lost patience with free speech (particularly in England, France, and Canada), free speech not only remains our defining right of Western Civilization but our most powerful weapon against tyranny in any form.