Bangladesh publishers burn books in protest at killing of secularists

Writers and publishers have set fire to books in protest after the killing of Faisal Arefin Dipan in Dhaka by suspected Islamists. Photograph: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Zuma Press/Corbis

Publishers, whose very life blood is printing books, have been burning books in Bangladesh as a very public protest against the governments refusal to take any decisive action in response to the growing campaign of orchestrated murder that is being directed against writers. The Guardian Reports …

Demonstrations have continued over fatal attacks on secular writers and publishers in Bangladesh suspected to have been carried out by hardline Islamists, with books burned and businesses closed in protest.

Hundreds of people, including writers, publishers and bookshop owners, took to the streets of the capital, Dhaka, on Monday to protest against what they said was government inaction over a string of attacks, including the murder on Saturday of a publisher of secular books.

“This is not an isolated incident. They first started killing authors, then the bloggers and now they’ve targeted the publishers,” Mustafa Selim, head of the Bangladesh Creative Publishers Society, told reporters.

Rallies were also held in other cities and towns to demand more protection for publishers, bloggers and writers, some of whom have fled the country or gone into hiding.

When your enemy, the primary target you strike out against, are writers, bloggers, and publishers, than what it tells the world is that you are terrified of the things that they write and are petrified of challenging ideas.

All is now quite clear …

  • Those that respond with violence against ideas are admitting that their ideas are inferior and cannot withstand any criticism
  • That they are intellectually bankrupt and have no valid counter arguments

Voices from the frontline

Writers, publishers and readers together make our business. If writers do not deliver then we cannot publish a good book and if I am not able to publish a good book then readers will not buy book from me … Tomorrow these attacks may be on readers. We must protest against this injustice.” – Ahmed Sikder Loton, president of Bangladesh Book Sellers and Publishers Association

They have targeted bloggers, they have targeted writers … and they have now targeted publishers. It seems that the attacks are slowly escalating. Everyone is very apprehensive, especially in relation to the failures of the law enforcement agencies.” – Kaiser Hamidul Haq, English professor at Bangladesh’s University of Liberal Arts

Writers Protesting

Last May more than 150 writers wrote an open letter to the Bangladeshi government calling for action to protect free expression and to bring perpetrators to justice. Those who added their names to that open letter included Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Yann Martel and Colm Tóibí … and yet, here are are a few months later and nothing has been done, it was ignored.

Time Magazine now reports on this

They published an article entitled “A Secular Publisher Is the Latest Bangladeshi Killed By Suspected Islamist Radicals” and so an even brighter spotlight is now illuminating this dark ongoing saga …

“Why does the government of Bangladesh allow its own people to live in constant terror of being hacked to death by roving marauders?” Michael De Dora, public policy director at the Center for Inquiry, a U.S. based non-profit that campaigns on free speech issues, asked in a statement issued after Dipan’s death. “How many more of the country’s bravest and brightest lights must be stamped out before the government takes definitive action to protect freedom of expression and the lives of brilliant writers, scholars and activists?”

De Dora also took aim at Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, for “placing blame on the victims for offending religious feelings.

Indeed yes, being offended is not justification for murder … ever.

The Political Response in Bangladesh is quite frankly absurd

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal claims …

“Yesterday’s attacks are isolated incidents and such attacks also occur in other countries of the world,”

Yep, they do occur in other places, such as Iraq and Syria for example, but isolated, nope, there is a clear ongoing and escalating agenda at play here, these are not “isolated incidents”.

Such denial is a huge problem, and it is not simply one lone minister, even the Prime Minister is quoted as follows when responding to an earlier attack …

the Prime Minister sent out an uncompromising message to those like Roy who identify with no religion. “Personally, I don’t support it, I don’t accept it. Why not? You have to have your faith. If anybody thinks they have no religion, O.K., it’s their personal view … But they have no right to write or speak against any religion.”

Bangladesh’s bloggers, she added, “should not hurt anybody’s [religious] feeling. When you are living in a society, you have to honor the social values, you have to honor the others’ feelings.”

That is basically pure grade-1 gold-plated bullshit, because pandering to religious sensibilities will do nothing except empower violent thugs. If indeed “feelings” are so damn important, then why are the feelings of the religious permitted to trump the feelings of the non-religious, or for that matter, justice itself.


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