Action demanded over professor's murder

Crackdown sought after Bangladesh professor hacked to death by alleged militants
Action demanded over professor's murder

Teachers and students of Rajshahi University in northern Bangladesh protest on March 24 against the killing of university professor Rezaul Karim Siddique, allegedly by Islamic militants. (Photo by Selim Jahangir) reporters, Rajshahi and Dhaka
April 25, 2016
Christian leaders have called for a crackdown on militancy in the wake of the killing of a university professor in northern Bangladesh, the latest in the series of targeted killings allegedly by Islamic extremists.

Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, an English professor at Rajshahi University, was hacked to death April 23 while on his way to work.

He also ran a music school and edited a literary and cultural magazine.

Siddique was the fourth Rajshahi University academic murdered in the past 10 years.    

The group calling itself Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the killing, accusing Siddique of being an atheist, the U.S.-based SITE intelligence group reported, quoting the IS-linked Amaq Agency.

A local militant group, Ansar Al Islam, an offshoot of banned militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team, allegedly behind a series of blogger murders, also claimed responsibility.

Leading Catholic officials in Bangladesh said they were "shocked and saddened" by the killing.

"We absolutely condemn the killing of Professor Siddique, which is an attack on a cultural and open-minded section of society," said Theophil Nokrek, secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Justice and Peace Commission.

He called on the government to launch a crackdown on "militant dens" and put madrasas (Islamic schools) under strict surveillance to tackle militancy properly.

"The government has no option rather than coming hard on some areas where militancy has prevailed for a long time, and madrases, which have been used as breeding ground for extremists," he said.

The killing is another instance of the "government's failure to protect secular intellectuals from Islamist rage" and "tainting country's secular image," said Nirmol Rozario, secretary of Bangladesh Christian Association.

"Militants are everywhere and they are carrying out their agenda because the government has failed to tackle militancy properly. These incidents are making Bangladesh a dangerous place for anyone who stand against militancy directly or indirectly," said Rozario.

Police dismissed IS claims of responsibility and said the murder followed a similar pattern to recent attacks against atheist bloggers.

However, they said Siddique's death differed because he was not known for espousing atheism.

"We are not sure why he was targeted because as far as we know he has not written anything critical of religion or Islam," said Shahdat Hossain, officer in-charge of Boalia police station in Rajshahi.

"He might be killed because of his cultural activities which the militants might have disliked," Hossain added without elaborating.

On April 24, police detained a Rajshahi University student for questioning over Siddique's killing.

The student, who has not been named, was suspected of having links to Islami Chhatra Shibir, a student organization of Bangladesh's largest radical Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami.



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