DHAK, Bangladesh, March 31 (UPI) -- Four men in Dhaka, Bangladesh, were charged Tuesday with the death of a blogger who they believed insulted Islam in his writings.
Washiqur Rahman, 27, was killed Monday on a Dhaka street by assailants armed with knives, who accused him of defaming Islam in his social media postings. Two of the alleged attackers, each a student at a religious school in Chittagong with known links to the conservative Hefazat-e-Islam group, were held by bystanders until police arrived. A third escaped, and a fourth, regarded as the planner of the attack and whose name was mentioned during police questioning, is also at large. A case was filed against the four men Tuesday.
Police Commissioner Biplob Kumar Sarkar said the confessions of the two captured men indicate they were acting on orders from another person, and had not read Rahman's work.
The attack came five weeks after American blogger Avijit Roy was similarly killed on a Dhaka street. Although Bangladesh is officially a secular country, the population of 160 million is overwhelmingly Muslim, and the country has seen an increase in extreme Islamist ideologies.
Hefazat-e-Islam led protests against secular bloggers in 2013, in which nearly 50 people died, and police led a crackdown on demonstrators demanding death for defamers of Islam.
Rahman wrote a weekly column satirizing religion on the website Dhormockery.com, the London-based International Humanist and Ethical Union said. A friend, Tamanna Setu, said Rahman was an atheist who formerly posted Facebook comments which opposed religious believers.
Another friend, Asif Mohiuddin, himself a blogger wounded in a 2013 machete attack, referred to Rahman as "the George Carlin of Bangladesh. He wanted, with all his heart, a true secular country, where everyone can practice their freedom."