FFRF appreciates State Department reward for freethinker Avijit Roy’s killers

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On the eighth anniversary of his assassination, the Freedom From Religion Foundation appreciates that the State Department is still determined that the killers of Bangladeshi-American freethinker Avijit Roy be brought to justice.

“The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, through its Rewards for Justice office, is offering a reward for information on the terrorist attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh, [on Feb. 26, 2015] that left U.S. citizen Avijit Roy dead and his wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, seriously injured,” reads a statement on the department’s website. “The secretary of state has authorized a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of anyone involved in the murder of Roy and the attack on Ahmed.”

As the State Department points out, a total of six individuals were charged, tried and convicted; two of the convicted conspirators were tried in absentia and remain at large. Two related groups have claimed responsibility: Ansarullah Bangla Team and al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

FFRF is pleased that the State Department has not lost its focus after all these years on Roy’s horrific killing.

“Let us hope that the monetary incentive offered by the U.S. government will bear results,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It’s high time that the masterminds of his assassination were tried.”

To recognize those who work for freedom of conscience despite dangers and persecution, FFRF and Ahmed have established the annual Avijit Roy Courage Award. The first award was accepted by Rasel Ahmed, an LGBTQ activist who had to escape from Bangladesh after his co-editor and another activist were hacked to death in 2016. The awardees in subsequent years have included Indian rationalist Avinash Patil and jailed Saudi freethinking blogger Raif Badawi.

The rise of fundamentalism is ravaging the world, including the region in which Roy had his roots. Just last month, a mob broke into a police station in Punjab, Pakistan, dragged a man through the streets and beat him to death on accusations of “blasphemy.” The Pakistani ruling elite has encouraged such horrifying vigilantism by recently instituting harsh penalties for insulting the family of Prophet Muhammad. And India is currently controlled by the political arm of a Hindu nationalist organization. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the group when he was 8 years old. Modi’s second term has been especially problematic, with laws introduced at the national and state levels to disenfranchise Muslims, ban beef, prohibit religious conversions, take away the autonomy of the Muslim-majority Kashmir region and facilitate the building of grand temples on disputed sites.

Please join FFRF in working for a world where freedom of conscience flourishes — and that requires keeping religion out of government.

In honor of Avijit Roy, please read a little more about him in our Freethought of the Day pantheon of secular heroes.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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