Arrest in Bangladesh over death threats to secular writers

Bangladeshi police escort men detained in the suspected murder of 60-year-old Hiroe Miyata, a Japanese businesswoman, outside a court in Dhaka.

Bangladeshi police escort men detained in the suspected murder of 60-year-old Hiroe Miyata, a Japanese businesswoman, outside a court in Dhaka.


Bangladesh police have arrested a suspected militant for sending death threats to prominent secular academics, as the country reels from rising extremist violence, officers said Wednesday.

Police accuse Abdul Haque, a former teacher at an Islamic seminary, of threatening noted academics and writers in the name of the Daesh group and local banned outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).

“He sent death threats via telephone and text messages using a fake Daesh identity,” police spokesman Monirul Islam said, adding that prominent secular intellectual Anisuzzaman, historian Muntasir Mamun and writer Mohammed Zafar Iqbal were among the targets.

Tensions are running high in Bangladesh after a series of killings of secular bloggers and a publisher as well as the murders of two foreigners.

Secular writers, academics and bloggers have received death threats in the wake of the killings, while some have fled overseas fearing for their lives.

Police have stepped up a search for those behind the threats as well as security of those targeted after a hitlist was published on the Internet of 153 names.

Tuesday night’s arrest came as police announced a Bangladeshi man has also been detained for spreading Daesh propaganda on the Internet.

The government says the militant group has no presence in Bangladesh and instead accuses the opposition of trying to destabilize the country.

The country of 160 million mainly moderate Muslims has been known for its religious tolerance.

But Bangladesh has been plagued by unrest in the last three years, and experts have warned that a long-running political crisis has radicalized opponents of the government.


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