WASHINGTON: The US has strongly condemned the "brutal murder" of prominent American blogger and writer Avijit Roy in Bangladesh, terming the killing as an act of cowardice.
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal murder of Avijit Roy, which was horrific in its brutality and cowardice," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said yesterday.
"Avijit was a journalist, a humanist, a husband, and a friend, and we extend our condolences to his family and friends. He was taken from us in a shocking act of violence," she said.
This was not just an attack against a person, but a cowardly assault on the universal principles enshrined in Bangladesh's constitution and the country's proud tradition of free intellectual and religious discourse, Psaki said.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) also strongly condemned the brutal murder of Atlanta-based Bangladesh-American Roy, a humanist of Hindu origin and an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism.
Roy, 44, was attacked by machete-wielding assailants while on his way back from a book fair at Dhaka University.
His wife and fellow blogger Rafida Ahmed also sustained severe injuries in the attack and remains in critical condition at a hospital.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of Avijit, and we are hopeful that Rafida will make a full and speedy recovery," said Samir Kalra, HAF's senior director for Human Rights.
"We urge the Bangladeshi police to conduct a thorough and swift investigation and find those responsible for this heinous attack," she said.
"The attack on Avijit and Rafida is only the latest attempt by Islamist groups in Bangladesh to silence free speech and undermine the nation's secular fabric," said Jay
Kansara, HAF's director of government relations, who just returned from a human rights fact-finding mission to Bangladesh earlier this month.
"Organisations such as JeI and Ansar Bangla-7 pose an existential threat to democracy, freedom of thought, and religious pluralism in Bangladesh, and must be confronted by the government by the strongest means necessary," he said.