So is the Islamophobia industry going to be circulating the term “secularophobia” anytime soon?
Far from just being two random murders, these attacks are the methodical work of vigilante extremists working through a list of atheist bloggers. The list was drawn up last year when 100,000 protesters called on the government to introduce the death penalty for blasphemy. The government refused to introduce death penalty, but it did begin a crack down on the country’s free-thinking blog community. It shut down some of its most popular sites, and imprisoned bloggers accused of “offending religious feelings”. Once known as the only place where non-religious Bangladeshis could gather safely, the internet suddenly became unsafe for atheists wanting to air their views.
Rather than target the Shahbag protestors directly, atheists provided a softer target for silencing dissent. For the government, who are eager to stem these counter protests, they are a small and politically cheap group. And by cracking down on them, they are able to placate Bangladesh’s extremists.