May 08, 2016

Bangladesh: Sufi preacher was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants

The Telegraph - 8 May 2016

Bangladesh Sufi leader murdered

Dhaka, May 7 (PTI): A 65-year-old Sufi preacher was hacked to death by unidentified machete-wielding assailants in northwest Bangladesh, two weeks after a liberal university professor was killed in a similar attack claimed by the Islamic State.
Shahidullah was found dead with gashes on his right shoulder and a slit throat in a mango orchard in Rajshahi city’s Tanor upazila. The attack that bears the hallmark of previous murders of intellectuals, bloggers and minorities by extremists in the country.
His body was recovered after local residents called the police around 10pm last night, said Abdur Razzak, officer-in- charge of Tanor police station.
“Shahidullah was a local grocer but was regarded as a Sufi preacher with a number of followers in the area,” Razzak said.
He said an autopsy of the body was carried out at a local hospital and then returned to the relatives for burial.
Razzak said initial investigations found that Shahidullah was involved in a property dispute with neighbours “which could be a reason of the murder”.
“It seems he was hacked first and then slaughtered,” Razzaq was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.
But Rajshahi’s police chief Nisharul Arif told reporters that Islamists could also be behind the killing which was similar to the murder of liberal Rajshahi University professor Rezaul Karim two weeks ago for which the IS claimed responsibility. An investigation has been launched into Shahidullah’s murder, Arif said.
Meanwhile, the victim’s son has sued anonymous people in a case filed with the Tanor police station. He said his father was a follower of “Torika Ponthi” (a spiritual path) and might have had enmity with followers of other paths. There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh in recent weeks especially targeting minorities, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreigners.
In recent attacks, a liberal professor was hacked to death last month by machete-wielding IS militants who slit his throat near his home in Rajshahi city.
Two days later, Bangladesh’s first gay magazine editor was brutally murdered along with a friend in his flat in Dhaka by extremists.
Last week, a Hindu tailor was hacked to death by IS militants in his shop in central Bangladesh.
Professor threatened
After a Dhaka University professor asked a woman to remove her veil during his class, Muslim extremists called for his death, posting his personal details online along with tips on how to kill. He remains under constant guard by armed police, stays mostly at home and bars his front door.
Azizur Rahman is among a growing number of political moderates and intellectuals seeking protection in Bangladesh, where at least 15 writers, activists, religious minorities and foreign aid workers have been killed in targeted attacks since the start of 2015. Rahman, a psychology professor, pleaded with the government for 24-hour armed security outside his classes and at the modest campus apartment where he lives with his wife. Plainclothes policemen follow his every move around the sprawling, tree-filled open campus where he teaches five days a week.