Justice for Secular Activist Killed in Bangladesh

Target: Abdul Hamid, President of Bangladesh

Goal: Identify and prosecute the men who murdered Nazimuddin Samad.

Nazimuddin Samad, a 28-year-old student activist who promoted secularism on social media, was attacked and killed by four men in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka. His assailants, who wore masks, hacked him with machetes before shooting him dead and fleeing on motorcycles. The murder took place as Samad walked home from his evening classes with a friend. According to CNN and other news outlets, Ansar al-Islam, al-Qaeda’s franchise in Bangladesh, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Distressingly, Samad’s murder is not an isolated incident. Over the last 14 months, five individuals — four bloggers and one publisher — have been killed in almost identical fashion. Like Samad, all of the victims were outspoken critics of theocracy and Islamism.

In 2013, a group of extremist Muslims in Bangladesh published a “hit list” of 84 people who, because they challenged the merits of Islam and championed universal human rights, are supposedly fit to be killed. Nazimuddin Samad was one of those people. Dozens of bloggers and intellectuals have gone into hiding or exile as a result of the list.

According to Amnesty International, “Bangladeshi authorities have failed to strongly condemn the attacks. Instead, they have instructed secular activists to stop ‘offending’ religious sentiments through their writings.” In other words, Bangladeshi authorities have chosen to rationalize the violence and exculpate the perpetrators rather than prosecute them.

By refusing to act, Bangladeshi authorities threaten to normalize these barbaric and senseless attacks. Please sign the below petition, demanding that Nazimuddin Samad’s murderers be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


Mr. Hamid,

I was appalled to learn of the barbaric murder of student activist Nazimuddin Samad by four masked men wielding machetes. Samad was killed for daring to express his views about religion and theocracy, a right granted to anyone living in a free society.

As you know, five other secular activists have been killed in your country over the past 14 months. The murders are all chillingly similar, and none of the assailants have been brought to justice. Several of the victims, including Nazimuddin Samad, were included on a global “hit list” drawn up by religious extremists. Clearly, all of the people on the list require protection, which your government has an obligation to provide.

It has been reported that the jihadist group Ansar al-Islam has claimed responsibility for the attack on Samad. It is imperative that you do everything in your power to identify the four assailants and prosecute them. It is furthermore imperative that you strongly condemn all acts of violence committed against freethinkers in your country. I urge you to do so immediately.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nazimuddin Samad

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  1. karen stickney says:

    Conservatives would love him.

  2. Robert Ortiz says:

    Theocracy and Islamism are social ills that must be stopped. This young man was brutally killed in cold blood for freedom of speech, nothing more. There must be justice for him. His killers must be found and punished severely and there must be change so that democracy can take root and people can freely express themselves without fear of murder and brutality.

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