Bangladesh: Why was once science fiction author Zafar Iqbal attacked?

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Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, a favorite Bangladeshi author and tutorial, was once stabbed in the support on March Three, whereas attending a programme at a university in the northeastern district of Sylhet.

The lone attacker, Foyzur Rahman, was once caught sooner than he could well continue stabbing Iqbal from at the support of. The 24-year-light attacker later acknowledged he wanted to assassinate Iqbal because he believed the tutorial was once an « an enemy of Islam ».

Iqbal, who has authored extra than 200 books, is now out of possibility and is getting better at the Blended Protection pressure Health center (CMH) in the capital, Dhaka, per his spouse, Yasmin Haque.

The stabbing has brought support memories of a series of fatal assaults towards secular bloggers in Bangladesh practically three years ago.

Investigators comprise made growth in probing the knife assault for the duration of which Iqbal sustained accidents to his head, support and left hand.

The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC), a creep unit of the Bangladesh Police who took payment of the investigation, comprise stumbled on some proof that hyperlinks Rahman with a first payment-flee forum named Dawah Ilallah.

Dawah Ilallah is an internet forum bustle by the banned Bangladeshi outfit Ansarullah Bangla Crew (ABT) and Ansar al-Islam, which comprise been blamed for the spate of lethal assaults towards secular bloggers. 

Terming the topic « an ongoing investigation », an legitimate of the CTTC, who most well-preferred anonymity, told Al Jazeera that the forum labelled Iqbal an atheist, and held frequent discussions on conceivable ways to assassinate him.

After Rahman volunteered, « some customers » of the forum, which one would be half of by invitation most effective, guided Rahman to assassinate the assault, the CTTC legitimate acknowledged. 

Abdul Mannan, Extra Deputy Commissioner of CTTC, told Al Jazeera that, at this point, they’re no longer making any « conclusive resolution » about Rahman’s affiliation with any armed outfit.

« The form of the assault, on the opposite hand, indicated a link with ABT, as this outfit assaults folks whom it believes to be an enemy of Islam, » he acknowledged, including that Iqbal had prolonged been on the hit-checklist of ABT.

« We’re no longer yet certain whether or no longer Rahman acted by myself or as a half of the crew, » acknowledged Mannan.

The case of Zafar Iqbal

On March 5, at a bellow meeting in Dhaka’s Shahbagh, Haque acknowledged her husband wrote extra than 200 books and none of these has « one thing that goes towards the Islamic sentiment ».

« Had he [Rahman] read any of his books, he wouldn’t comprise performed one thing treasure that, » Haque acknowledged at the rally.

While Iqbal has by no draw styled himself as an atheist or was once believed to comprise acknowledged one thing that goes towards Islam, he has been a staunch critic of Islamist politics and rising intolerance in Bangladeshi society.

Students where Iqbal teaches rallied in support of the tutorial after the assault. [Nafis Tiham/Al Jazeera]

His father, who labored as a police officer in what was once then Eastern Pakistan, was once killed for the duration of the 1971 liberation battle.

He comes from a family of writers. His elder brother, leisurely Humayun Ahmed, is the most current and perfect-promoting Bangladeshi author of all time. His youthful brother Ahsan Habib is a satire author and the editor of Bangladesh’s most effective monthly satire magazine, Unmad, which draw « madman ».

After his PhD from the University of Washington, he went on to work as a scientist at the favorite Bell Laboratory in California.

Within the early 2000s, he came support to Bangladesh to be half of Shahjalal University of Science and Expertise in the northeastern Sylhet district as a professor of electrical and electronics engineering.

« Zafar Iqbal left a excessive-salaried job at a surely prestigious analysis lab in the US and obtained support to his fatherland to work for it, » acknowledged Mohammad Kaykobad, a chum of Iqbal.

Kaykobad, a professor of computer science and engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering Expertise (BUET), has co-authored loads of current science books with Iqbal.

As advocates of popularising science education, both Iqbal and Kaykobad helped delivery the nationwide level Arithmetic Olympiad and Computer Programming contest in the South Asian nation of 150 million.

« Prof Iqbal has contributed plenty to the education sector of Bangladesh. He truly cares and has huge belief in the skills and vitality of Bangladeshi folks, » Kaykobad told Al Jazeera.

« Many of us fabricate no longer discuss … as we apprehension repercussions. But he did now not, » acknowledged the BUET Professor, alluding to Iqbal’s outspoken nature.

Why was once he attacked?

Since Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League rating collectively grew to develop to be prime minister in 2009, Iqbal has been an active advocate of the Battle Crime Tribunal, which was once situation as a lot as punish these accused of committing atrocities for the duration of the 1971 liberation battle from Pakistan.

The Tribunal has handed out capital punishments to a replacement of senior leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami – the biggest Islamist rating collectively – and the Bangladesh Nationalist Social gathering (BNP) of dilapidated Top Minister Khaleda Zia.

The Jamaat, which has since been banned from contesting elections, has accused the Hasina government of politicising the Tribunal, whereas the World Charge of Jurists has acknowledged that the tribunal does « no longer adhere to worldwide requirements of a enticing trial and due process ». 

The author grew to develop to be a family title via his books that integrated science fiction, kid’s tales, and other fiction and non-fiction, nevertheless in most up-to-date years he has got criticism, namely on social media, for his stand towards Islamist politics.

Bangladeshi political analyst Zia Hassan says he « personally in many ways opposes the rhetoric of Professor Iqbal, which appears to be like at the nation via the simplistic tale of professional versus towards Liberation Battle ».

This perspective has now been extinct as a defend to give protection to the incumbent government’s a huge replacement of misdeeds, Hassan acknowledged, including that he, on the opposite hand, would take to sentence the assault on him [Iqbal] « strongly ».

Hassan acknowledged a form of folks comprise good concerns in regards to the roar of the nation and the draw the ruling rating collectively has suppressed dissent.

« Since [Zafar] Iqbal is sympathetic with the ruling rating collectively and blind to its misdeeds, he has now develop to be a predominant aim and there was once a concerted effort to vilify him for the things he is rarely any longer liable for. »

Every person is entitled to comprise his political gape and « these that oppose Iqbal can oppose him via debates – which we comprise performed. The government must take efforts to give protection to him », Hassan acknowledged.

The Bangladeshi author’s belief as « anti-Islamist » is moreover consequently of his writings, says Asif Shibgat Bhuiyah, a current Bangladeshi blogger known for his advocacy on Islamic scholarship.

« A quantity of Iqbal’s writings, namely these written for younger folks, are of propagandist nature, » Bhuiyah told Al Jazeera. 

In many of his books, a bearded or pious man is in the slay represented as a execrable particular person or a villain, he acknowledged.

Such motion from Iqbal has earned criticism because folks « expected a rational and fair perspective from an particular particular person of such mind and capacity as Iqbal, » acknowledged Bhuiyah

The blogger says the assault on Iqbal is an of blind and blatant hatred that some folks glean in a extremely divisive society treasure Bangladesh.

« I apprehension, this would per chance well moreover hurt the Bangladeshi society in a extreme draw. »

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