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Slain US Blogger’s Dad Criticizes Bangladesh Investigation

  • Reuters

Father Ajay Roy, right, stands beside the coffin of Avijit Roy, a prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger in Dhaka, Bangladesh, March 1, 2015.

Father Ajay Roy, right, stands beside the coffin of Avijit Roy, a prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger in Dhaka, Bangladesh, March 1, 2015.

The father of a U.S. blogger who was killed by machete-armed attackers while visiting Bangladesh complained on Tuesday about the pace of the investigation as criticism over perceived police inaction grew.

Avijit Roy, an engineer, writer and naturalized American citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was slain February 26 after he and his wife visited a book fair. Rafida Bonya Ahmed suffered head injuries and lost a finger. She later returned to the United States for treatment. The couple's home is in Southern university city of Athens, Georgia.

There has been a spate of assaults on secular bloggers in the Muslim-majority nation over the past few years. Media group Reporters Without Borders rated Bangladesh 146th among 180 countries in a ranking of press freedom last year.

"The progress of investigation is really very slow and I am concerned that the case may be buried without result, like many other cases related to such killings in Bangladesh," said Ajoy Roy, Avijit's father and also a secular writer and former professor at Dhaka University.

A senior police official denied the allegations and said the investigation was taking its own course.

Mohammad Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said they were weighing information obtained from a prime suspect who had since been turned over to police custody.

"We have confirmed that this was an act of extreme militants in the name of religion," Masudur told Reuters, but added: "It might take some time to draw a conclusion." An FBI team is now in the capital Dhaka to assist with the Bangladeshi police investigation.

Suspect denies role in killing

The suspect, Farabi Shafiur Rahman, has denied killing Avijit Roy but has said he’s glad the blogger was attacked.

Rahman previously had been jailed for his ties to the extremist Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir.

Avijit Roy likened religious extremism to "a highly contagious virus." Writing for the current issue of Free Inquiry, a magazine published by the Council for Secular Humanism, Roy analyzed jihadists' efforts to silence him and other critics such as those at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. He cited the January massacre there among evidence that "the virus of faith was the weapon that made these atrocities possible."

Bangladeshi Law Commission chairman and former chief justice ABM Khairul Haque called for the national police chief to resign, given that police officers near the scene of the attack on Avijit Roy had not intervened.

"It was their duty to rush to the scene and capture the criminals," Khairul told a citizens' rights gathering.

On Saturday, H.T. Imam, political adviser to Prime Minister Sheik Hasina, asked the national police chief to identify the “black sheep” officers who failed to act on Avijit's behalf.

Some information for this report was provided by the Center for Inquiry.