The ‘Invisible Enemy’ Strikes Another Intellect in Bangladesh

A top secular / science fiction novel writer named Zafar Iqbal has been attacked at a local Bangladeshi university. Writer Zafar Iqbal was reportedly stabbed in public in front of a daylight audience (of 500 people) in the head while taking part in an university event in Dhaka Bangladesh. The well-known secular activist and science fiction author has faced numerous death threats from radical Islamists in the recent past.

Suspected Islamist extremists have carried out a series of attacks on secular and atheist writers and bloggers in the last four years, killing around a dozen of them including an American atheist blogger of Bangladeshi origin.

Prof Iqbal, a teacher of SUST Computer Science and Engineering Department, has repeatedly voiced his loud opposition to militancy and communalism. A police detail has been assigned to protect the popular writer in October 2016 after death threats from Islamist militants.

Bangladesh has been waging a war against homegrown extremism in the wake of numerous attacks by radical groups in recent years.

Zafar Iqbal is taken to get medical attention after being stabbed. The 65-year-old was stabbed from behind as he was about to take the stage to address a science festival that had been organized by a local university.

Police said Zafar Iqbal, a celebrated secular activist and bestselling science fiction writer, was rushed to hospital in Sylhet after the attack.

“He was hit on the back of his head and he was bleeding,” a police constable posted at the hospital told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Bangladesh’s government has provided security for the country’s top secular writers and activists since suspected Islamist extremists named them in a several lists of targets.

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Police do not know how many people were involved in the attack nor whether they belonged to any Islamist extremist groups, he said. But Iqbal was in the hit-list by militant and other groups in the past. Police have blamed homegrown Islamist extremist group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), also known as Ansar al Islam, which is linked with Al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent for most of the attacks.

The Attacker

The attack occurred around 5:40pm. The attacker, a youth identified as Foizur, was immediately taken down and detained by authorities after a severe thrashing. The 24-year-old madrasa (Islamic School) student dubbed the famed writer as an ‘enemy of Islam’, saying he was attempting to kill him for this reason.

‘I attacked Zafar Iqbal because he is an enemy of Islam’ – The assassin claimed as he regained consciousness in police custody. Foyzur Rahman Faizul, who stabbed noted writer Dr Zafar Iqbal, believed in militancy and religious extremism.

According to sources, Faizul gave up his studies four years ago, and started selling clothes in 2016. He traded at Kaliyarkapon Bazar under Derai upazila of Sunamganj. Locals, preferring to be anonymous, revealed that Faizul was ejected from a local mosque for arguing about the teachings of Islam around that time. The youth used to live with his family in their own home in Sheikhpara area of Sylhet. He left his home after being ejected from the local mosque.

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