Ananya Azad is no stranger to assassination attempts. The prominent Bangladeshi blogger’s father, Humayun Azad, wrote a scathing critique of Islamist fundamentalism in 2003 entitled Pak Sar Jamin Sad Bad (Blessed Be the Sacred Land, the title of Pakistan’s national anthem). A year after it was published, Humayan was seriously injured in a street attack by assailants wielding machetes.
Now, it is his son’s turn to fear the outside world. Ananya followed in his father’s footsteps to become a writer critical of intolerance and religious fundamentalism, a career that has landed him on a hitlist containing the names of 84 atheist bloggers.
The list was submitted to Bangladesh’s interior ministry in 2013 by a group of radical Islamists asking for the writers to be punished for making derogatory statements about Islam and the prophet Muhammad. At the time, few bloggers believed they were seriously in danger. But on 12 May, science writer Ananta Bijoy Das became the third person named on that list to be murdered in the street this year.