WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department said federal officials are considering granting refuge to a select number of Bangladeshi writers who are under "imminent danger" for their critical views of radical Islamists.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner condemned the "barbaric murder" of Nazimuddin Samad, a Bangladeshi law student who frequently espoused his views on social media against radical Islam. Toner expressed the United States' "unwavering support to the Bangladeshi people in their struggle against violent extremism."
He said humanitarian parole is "one option" under consideration, a program run by the Department of Homeland Security.
"We stand with the Bangladeshi people in rejecting this vicious act and uniting to preserve a tolerant and inclusive society that protects freedom of expression," he said. "The United States will continue to support the government of Bangladesh in its efforts to combat terrorism, counter violent extremism and bring to justice those who commit such heinous acts."
Samad, 26, was killed in a crowded intersection of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka earlier this week. His friends said they repeatedly asked him to stop writing the critical posts for fear of retribution.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concerns over Samad's death and urged the Bangladeshi government to "take urgent, concerted measures to ensure the protection of all those who are being threatened by extremists operating in the country."
"We call on political and religious leaders to unequivocally condemn such murders, and on the authorities to swiftly investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.
In 2015, at least six writers and publishers connected to atheist writings were shot and stabbed in separate incidents. Islamist militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team claimed responsibility for some of the attacks. No one has claimed responsibility for Samad's death.