More threats

Reporters Without Borders last week:

Reporters Without Borders condemns the threats against news media and bloggers contained in a email that was sent to a score of Bangladeshi print and broadcast media outlets on 19 October, and calls on the authorities to take concrete measures to protect all those targeted.

Sent by Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a militant Islamist group that has claimed the murders of four bloggers this year, and signed by a person identifying himself as ABT spokesman Abdullah bin Salim, the Bengali-language email constituted a clear threat to all media that fail to adhere strictly to Islamic law.

The email included a demand for news media to fire all female employees and to refrain from publishing any ads that show women or any photos that include a woman not wearing a burqa.

This isn’t “high ideals” or any kind of altruism, even a distorted kind. This is just power-crazed theocratic men doing their best to stamp women and secularists and atheists into submission or death.

Imran H. Sarker, one of Bangladesh’s most popular bloggers, with about a million followers on social networks, received similar death threats on 17 October from a Facebook account apparently linked to the Islamic State.

All of the bloggers murdered since the start of 2015 – Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das,Niloy Neel and Avijit Roy, the founder of theMukto-Mona discussion website – criticized religious fundamentalism and advocated tolerance, free speech and freedom of thought in their blogs.

And they can’t allow that.

Update: bdnews24 reports that a rival group faked the threatening emails.

The media was threatened in an e-mail by none other than the leaders of an Awami Ulama League faction that used the name of banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team, its rival group alleges.

A faction led by Ilias Hossain bin Helali and Delowar Hossain made the claim at a press briefing on Wednesday.

It said “truth will be unveiled” if leaders of its rival faction, led by Aktar Hossain and Abul Hasan, were interrogated.

But Hasan rejected the allegations.

“The charges are false,” he told in his reaction. “Helali is running a snide campaign against us as we speak of Bangabandhu, the Awami League and the Ulama League.”

Charge and counter-charge; totally unclear who is telling the truth.

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