On Shuvo’s Murder: An obituary for Bangladesh

The recent news about the murder of Ahmed Rajib Haider (Shuvo) is deeply saddening and outrageous. Though more information will hopefully surface about the crime, initial reports about it seem to explicitly and implicitly tie the crime with the Shabag movement.

Initial reports and various facebook posts linking to his supposed blog portray him as a critic – at times rudely so – of a form of religious dogmatism at the heart of the politics of Bangladesh’s biggest Wahabi-Islam party, that is Jamaat, and the party itself. Additionally, according to Officer in Charge Abdul Latif Sheikh, Shuvo’s body was foundwith a scarf wrapped around his neck, indicative of an act of phashi.

“This culture of murdering writers and activists,” as we have already said and fundamentally believe, “is unacceptable, and must be stopped right now.” Freedom of speech (with conscious awareness of its consequences, that is a practice of responsibility) is fundamental to the rule of law in Bangladesh. From a secular point of view,Shuvo had the right to say whatever he said, and if people disagreed with what he said, they needed to respond viathe rule of law under – as one of our users pointed out something such as the blasphemy law. However, it is also important to point out that from a Islamic point of view, blasphemy does not merit a death sentence.

What these two points mean, we argue, is that Shuvo’s murderers and their motives both explicitly go against the law of Bangladesh as a state and the belief of Islam. In the first case, the killers had lived (in-spite of certainly) within the parameters of the state and therefore are subject to its laws. Without the protection of speech they would not be able to state anything critical period, which I assume the regularly do about those who they see as unbelievers. If therefore they respond to outside of the law that makes them outsiders/enemies of Bangladesh; in other words, they are rajakars.

Additionally, by responding to someone’s words with murderous action, they also violate Sharia, as explained by Sadakat Kadri. Shuvo did not take up arms or murder anyone; he wrote and spoke. The only acceptable response under religious law would be a response in words, or words in judicial form, that is the law in the form of a trial. By violating this rule the murderers can no longer be seen as believers in their motives and therefore are really are no longer believers period: they are the unbelievers.

As violators of the rule of state and religious law, they need to be tried and punished. We demand something be done now and whomever the perpetrator are be tried and subjected to the full rule of law. If these be individuals, they need to be tried as such, but if it be individuals working as an organizations, that organization itself needs to be subjected to the punishment of law. In no uncertain terms, if the individuals would have been condemned to death, so should the organization.

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