11 Mar 2015

Bangladeshi widow defies attackers

6:07 pm on 11 March 2015

The widow of a blogger who was hacked to death in Bangladesh by men wielding meat cleavers says she will continue to speak out for secularism and science.

Supporters pay tribute to the slain founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog site, Avijit Roy, in Dhaka.

A supporter pays his last respects to slain US-Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy. Photo: AFP

Rafida Bonya Ahmed was badly injured when her American-Bangladeshi husband Avijit Roy was killed after the couple left a book fair in Dhaka last month.

Speaking from a safe location, Ms Ahmed said fundamentalism had taken "deep roots" in Bangladesh.

She says she is recovering slowly and has few memories of the attack, in which she was stabbed in the head and hands, and lost a thumb.

Mr Roy's family said he had received threats after publishing articles promoting secular views, science and social issues on his Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona, or Free Mind.

Police say they suspect he was killed by religious extremists.

Couple ambushed

A group of men wielding meat cleavers ambushed the couple after they left Dhaka University on 26 February.

"Somehow, my memory is completely blocked about the incident itself," Ms Ahmed said.

"We were supposed to be going back home to have dinner with the family. I think I was holding his hand and we were just talking. I do not remember anything from that point until I was in some sort of vehicle and someone was carrying me. I remember I was soaked in blood."

She described her husband as "an intellectually fulfilled atheist, who dedicated his life to promoting science and secularism".

"I will go back to being vocal and expressing what we believe in. The cause that Avijit died for, I will not be quiet," she said.

The couple lived in the United States and were visiting Dhaka only to attend the book festival.

After the attack, students, teachers and bloggers gathered at Dhaka University to protest against the killing.

Police said they were investigating a local hard-line religious group that had praised the killing in an online message.