Ahmed Rajib Haider

Ahmed Rajib Haider (died 15 February 2013) was an atheist blogger from Bangladesh.[1] He used to blog in the blogging communities namely Somewhereinblog.net, Amarblog.com and Nagorikblog.com[2] and used the pseudonym Thaba Baba.[3]

Ahmed Rajib Haider
Ahmed Rajib Haider.jpg
Died(2013-02-15)15 February 2013
Palashnagar, Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh
EducationBachelor of Architecture
Alma materUniversity of Asia Pacific, Bangladesh.

On February 15, 2013, after comments he posted online about religious fundamentalism, he was hacked to death by machete-wielding activists from a militant group named Ansarullah Bangla Team. He was the first protester killed during the Shahbag movement.[4][5]

An architect by profession, Haider's blog was among those that ignited the 2013 Shahbag protests. The protesters were seeking trials for the perpetrators of the mass killings during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, a move that was widely seen as aimed at radical Islamists.[6] The protests were opposed by Islamic groups, who organised counter marches under the banner of a newly formed group called Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh.[7]

On December 30, 2015, after almost three years, two members of the Ansarullah Bangla Team, Md Faisal Bin Nayem and Redwanul Azad Rana, were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Faisal, the court said, was the one who attacked Haider with a meat cleaver.[8] Rana had absconded and was sentenced in absentia. Another member of the outlawed outfit, Maksudul Hasan was also found guilty of murder and given a life sentence.[8] Six other members of ABT, including firebrand leader Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani, received jail terms of five to ten years.[9]


Haider, a self-proclaimed atheist, posted his blogs under the pseudonym Thaba Baba, where he questioned the historical authenticity of Islam. The content of his writings were deemed "blasphemous" by religious hardliners, resulting in them demanding blasphemy laws be instituted and that he be killed.[10][11][12]

Death and aftermathEdit

On the night of 15 February 2013, Haider was attacked as he was leaving his house in the Mirpur area of Dhaka. His body was found lying in a pool of blood,[13] mutilated to the point that his friends could not recognise him.[7] The following day, his coffin was carried bearing the national flag through Shahbagh Square in a public protest by more than 100,000 people.[14] Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited his family in Palashnagar, Dhaka, and promised action.

On 2 March, the Bangladesh Detective bureau arrested five members of the newly formed extremist organisation Ansarullah Bangla Team for the murder.[5] The organisation was an offshoot of the Islami Chhatra Shibir, a student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami political party. The group takes its ideology from Anwar Al-Awlaki, a Yemen-based Al-Qaeda activist who was killed in 2011. Detectives said that the attack was masterminded by the Islamic Chhatra Shibir leader 'Rana' from Jamaat-e-Islami's youth wing,[15][16] who had not been located two months after the event.[17]

The five students, Faisal bin Nayeem alias Dwip, Maksudul Hassan Anik, Ehsan Reza Rumman, Naim Sikder Irad, and Nafis Imtiaz, confessed to the crime in front of a magistrate.[15] The students came from affluent backgrounds.[18] The day before the murder, Anik, Raza and Irad played cricket in the grounds in front of Haider's house, as part of the "Intel team".[15] Two of the masterminds of the attack were sentenced to death.[19]

Related attacksEdit

The incident occurred at the peak of the 2013 Shahbag protests in Bangladesh. Though attacks against atheist and other secular-minded writers were not a new phenomenon in Bangladesh, the death of the 30-year-old architect and Shahbag activist brought the struggle of Bangladeshi freethinkers greater prominence.[20]

Haider's murder is seen as part of a larger attack against atheist and secularist bloggers in Bangladesh. Islamic groups had been rallying for a blasphemy law along the lines of the Blasphemy law in Pakistan.[21] A month before the attack on Haider, blogger Asif Mohiuddin was attacked outside his house by four youths,[22] also from the Ansarullah Bengali Team. Although seriously injured, Asif survived. His attackers were apprehended in April 2013 based on leads from the Haider murder investigation.[18] Another controversial author, blogger & online activist named Sunnyur Rahman, popularly known as 'Nastik Nobi' (Atheist Prophet) in the blog community, was also stabbed on 7 March 2013.[23]

In March 2013 Asif's blog in somewhereinblog.net was shut down by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. In April, Asif was arrested for "blasphemous" posts,[24] along with three other bloggers, a move protested by the 2013 Bengali blog blackout.[25] The crackdown on independent blogs, and the closure of the newspaper Amar Desh, was strongly criticised by Human Rights Watch[26] and IHEU.[27][28] Shortly after the bloggers were arrested, Mukto-Mona, an independent site of freethinkers and atheists of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent, issued a statement titled, 'Bangladesh government squishing freedom of speech by arresting and harassing young bloggers inside the country'.[29] Amnesty International also issued a statement titled, 'Bangladesh: writers at risk of torture’.[30]

The Center for Inquiry (CFI), requested the US Secretary of State John Kerry "pressure the government of Bangladesh to reverse its policy of arresting atheist bloggers who were critical to religion." They sent a letter to Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook "to do all they can to raise public awareness of this situation." Other influential organisations such as the Free Society Institute of South Africa, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Global Voice Advocacy, and several other bodies also called for the immediate release of the Bangladeshi bloggers and appealed to several foreign authorities to press Bangladesh on the issue.[31]

Worldwide protest and demonstrations were held on 25 April and 2 May 2013, to put pressure on the Bangladeshi government to free the arrested bloggers. Several humanist groups (including CFU, CFI-Canada, the British Humanist Association, American Atheists, Secular Coalition for America, and Freethinkers of University of Missouri's campus) took part in cities the US, Canada, the UK, and Bangladesh.[32] Many writers, activists, and prominent intellectuals around the world including Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin, Hemant Mehta, Maryam Namazie, PZ Myers, Avijit Roy, Anu Muhammad, Ajoy Roy, Qayyum Chowdhury, Ramendu Majumdar, Muhammad Zafar Iqbal publicly expressed their solidarity with the arrested bloggers.[32] Three of the arrested bloggers eventually were released on bail,[33] however the court denied bail for Asif Mohiuddin and he was sent to prison on 2 June 2013.[34] He was released after three months but still faces charges.[35][36]


In 2015 alone, at least five more secular writers and publishers were murdered by Islamists:

  1. 26 February: US blogger and author Avijit Roy was hacked to death yards away from the Dhaka book fair.[37]
  2. 30 March: Blogger Washiqur Rahman, who wrote under the pen-name "Kutshit Hasher Chhana" ("ugly duckling") was hacked to death in broad daylight near his home in Tejgaon, Dhaka. Two of the three killers were grabbed by a transgender beggar as they attempted to flee the scene, and detained until police arrived.[38][39][40]
  3. 11 May: Ananta Bijoy Das, 33, a banker and a founder of a group called the Science and Rationalist Council was hacked to death while walking to work in Sylhet.[41]
  4. 6 August: Blogger Niloy Chakrabarti, who had spoken in May to The Guardian about his death threats, was killed by a machete gang in his fifth-floor apartment in Dhaka.[42]
  5. 31 October: Publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan, who had published a widely read book by Avijit Roy, was hacked to death in his office.[43][44]

In addition, publishers Ahmedur Rashid Tutul and bloggers Ranadipam Basu and Tareq Rahim were severely injured in machete-wielding attacks in 2015.[45][46]


  1. ^ "Four killed in 'blasphemous bloggers' riot in Bangladesh". news.com.au. 23 February 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Shahbagh Blogger murdered". The Daily Ittefaq. 16 February 2013. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  3. ^ Geeta Anand; Julfikar Ali Manik (8 June 2016), "Bangladesh Says It Now Knows Who's Killing the Bloggers", The New York Times
  4. ^ Yallaoui, Safia Yallaoui (12 April 2013). "Bangladesh Prime Minister faces pressure to kill blasphemous bloggers". Western Eye. University of the West of England. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Blogger Rajib's 'killers' linked to al-Qaeda: DB". The Daily Star. 15 March 2013.
  6. ^ Shahidul Alam (28 February 2013). "A 40-Year Quest for Justice". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b John Chalmers (15 April 2013). "Islamist agitation fuels unrest in Bangladesh". Chicago Tribune.
  8. ^ a b "Death for Bangladesh blogger killers". BBC News. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  9. ^ "2 sentenced to death for killing secular blogger in Bangladesh". dna. 31 December 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  10. ^ Blom, Amélie; Lama-Rewal, Stéphanie Tawa (9 July 2019). Emotions, Mobilisations and South Asian Politics. Taylor & Francis. p. 386. ISBN 978-1-000-02024-3.
  11. ^ Yallaoui, Safia (12 April 2013). "Bangladesh Prime Minister faces pressure to kill blasphemous bloggers". Western Eye. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013.
  12. ^ "ইসলাম ও নবী (সা.) কে অবমাননা করে ব্লগে রাজীবের কুরুচিপূর্ণ লেখা : বিভিন্ন সাইটে মারাত্মক প্রতিক্রিয়া || সাপ্তাহিক সোনার বাংলা". www.weeklysonarbangla.net. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Killers hacked Rajib first, then slit his throat: police". bdnews24.com. 16 February 2013.
  14. ^ Jim Yardley (16 February 2013). "Vast Throng in Bangladesh Protests Killing of Activist". The New York Times.
  15. ^ a b c "Shibir leader behind Rajib murder". bdnews24.com. 10 March 2013.
  16. ^ Manik, Julfikar Ali; Yardley, Jim (3 March 2013). "At Least 19 Killed as Unrest Persists in Bangladesh". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Mainuddiun, SM (16 April 2013). "2 Months After Rajib Murder 'Mastermind' Rana not caught". Daily Sun. Dhaka. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014.
  18. ^ a b Video report by Independent Television (Bangladesh) Rajib Haider murder investigations on YouTube (bangla)
  19. ^ "ব্লগার রাজীব হায়দার হত্যা মামলার পূর্ণাঙ্গ রায় প্রকাশ". Kalerkantho (in Bengali). Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  20. ^ Trisha Ahmed and Avijit Roy (October–November 2013). "Freethought Under Attack in Bangladesh". Free Inquiry. 33 (6).
  21. ^ Farid Ahmed (8 April 2013). "Bangladesh Islamists rally for blasphemy law". CNN.
  22. ^ "4 held over attempt to kill blogger". The Daily Star. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  23. ^ "Blogger Saniur files case". banglanews24.com. 7 March 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  24. ^ "Blogger Asif Mohiuddin arrested over "blasphemous" blog posts". Reporters Without Borders. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  25. ^ Emran Hossain (4 March 2013). "Bangladesh Arrests 'Atheist Bloggers', Cracking Down on Critics". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  26. ^ "Bangladesh: Crackdown on Bloggers, Editors Escalates". Human Rights Watch. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  27. ^ "Arrests of "atheist bloggers" shows Bangladesh authorities are walking into a trap set by fundamentalists". International Humanist and Ethical Union. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  28. ^ "Call to action: Defend the bloggers of Bangladesh". International Humanist and Ethical Union. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  29. ^ "A Statement from Mukto-Mona: Bangladesh government squishing freedom of speech by arresting and harassing young bloggers inside the country". Mukto-Mona. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  30. ^ "Bangladesh: writers at risk of torture". Amnesty International. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  31. ^ "No Flag Large Enough to Cover the Shame – Guest Post from Dr. Avijit Roy". Center for Inquiry. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  32. ^ a b Avijit Roy (8 May 2013). "The Struggle of Bangladeshi Bloggers". Skeptic. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  33. ^ "Two bloggers get bail". bdnews24.com. 12 May 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  34. ^ Tipu, Md Sanaul Islam (2 June 2013). "Blogger Moshiur granted bail, Asif was denied bail and sent to jail". Dhaka Tribune. Archived from the original on 21 July 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  35. ^ "Bangladesh court indicts 4 bloggers for allegedly posting derogatory comments about Islam". Fox News Channel. 8 September 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  36. ^ "4 bloggers charged". bdnews24.com. 8 September 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  37. ^ "Assailants hack to death writer Avijit Roy, wife injured". bdnews24.com. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  38. ^ Shafiqul Alam (29 March 2015). "Another blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh". Yahoo News. Agence France-Presse.
  39. ^ Mohammad Jamil Khan (31 March 2015). "Blogger Oyasiqur hacked to death". Dhaka Tribune. Archived from the original on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  40. ^ Julfikar Ali Manik; Ellen Barry (2 April 2015). "A Transgender Bangladeshi Changes Perceptions After Catching Murder Suspects". The New York Times.
  41. ^ "Bangladesh blogger Ananta Bijoy Das hacked to death". BBC News. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  42. ^ Jason Burke (7 August 2015). "Bangladesh blogger killed by machete gang had asked for police protection". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  43. ^ "Secular publisher hacked to death in latest Bangladesh attacks". The Guardian. Associated Press. 31 October 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  44. ^ Ellen Barry; Julfikar Ali Manik (31 October 2015). "Bangladeshi publisher hacked to death". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  45. ^ "Hague Freedom Book Fair Showcases Works Banned in Bangladesh". BenarNews. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  46. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "'Attacker shouted Allahu Akbar while attacking me with a machete' | Asia | DW.COM | 04.12.2015". DW.COM. Retrieved 9 April 2017.

External linksEdit