On April 6, 2016, unidentified individuals killed Nazimuddin Samad, a law student at Dhaka’s Jagannath University, and a secular activist and blogger.
Samad was walking home on a busy street near campus when at least three individuals approached him on a motorbike. They reportedly attacked Samad with machetes and shot him before fleeing the scene. Witnesses reportedly heard shouts of “Allahu Akbar” as the attackers fled. As of this report, the attackers have not been identified, but a police investigation was underway.
Reports and accounts from Samad’s friends indicate that he regularly criticized religious extremism over social media and was an organizer of a secular advocacy group known as Ganajagran Manch. A group of radical Islamists reportedly included Samad on a “hit list” of 84 atheist bloggers publicized in March 2013.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparently targeted killing of a student. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and freedom of expression. State authorities have a responsibility to ensure the security of academic communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable.