A university professor has been hacked to death in northwestern Bangladesh, and police said it resembled other recent militant attacks in the country.
Deputy police Commissioner Nahidul Islam said Rezaul Karim Siddique “was attacked on his way to the state-run university in the city of Rajshahi, where he taught English,” according to The Associated Press. He added that “the attackers used sharp weapons and fled the scene immediately.”
The Islamic State-linked Aamaq news agency said ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant websites. NPR could not independently verify the claim.
“IS has claimed responsibility for other attacks in Bangladesh, but the government has dismissed those claims, saying the Sunni extremist group has no presence in Bangladesh,” the AP reported.
The ISIS claim said that Siddique was killed for “calling for atheism,” SITE reports. However, according to The New York Times, Siddique “was not, like most of the previous victims, an avowed atheist or anti-religious campaigner.”
As The Two-Way has reported, Bangladesh has seen a string of attacks against outspoken atheists and secularists. Earlier this month, a 28-year-old law student who sharply criticized radical Islam was hacked to death in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. Here’s more from our earlier story:
“Last year, at least four secular bloggers were hacked to death in Bangladesh and a publisher who worked with one of those bloggers was stabbed to death.
“The government of Bangladesh — which is officially secular — has been criticized for failing to protect prominent secularists.”
According to the Dhaka Tribune, Siddique is now the fourth professor from Rajshahi University to be hacked to death in the last 12 years.
The newspaper described him as a quiet man who had positive relationships with other members of his community. It added that he “used to play the flute and tamura.”
According to The New York Times, he had recently started a music school and “was focused on introducing students to traditional Bangladeshi music and the poetry of literary figures like Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam.”
Speaking to the BBC, Siddique’s brother Sajidul said, “So far as we know, he did not have any known enemies and we never found him worried. … We don’t know why it happened to him.”