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South Asia

DW blog award winner attacked in Dhaka

A DW blog award winner has been brutally attacked in Bangladesh. Several other prominent Bangladeshi writers have also been attacked in recent years for their stand against extremist Islam in the country.

A blogger from Bangladesh who won a prize at DW's 2012 BOBs competition for Best Social Activism Campaign, Asif Mohiuddin, was attacked earlier this week in Dhaka by three unidentified men near his office in the upmarket Uttara district of the city. He was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for surgery. After a lengthy operation, doctors described his condition as very serious.

"We operated on him for more than three hours. He is improving but still not out of danger. He has six deep cuts including two grave ones in the shoulder," Haridas Saha, a surgeon at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told AFP on Tuesday, January 15. "The nature of the cuts proved that the attackers wanted to murder him," Saha continued, adding that friends of Mohiuddin who were with him at the time of the attack accused Islamic "fundamentalists" of the crime.

A self-styled militant atheist who is famed for his anti-religious blogs was fighting for life Tuesday after he was stabbed in the capital of Muslim-majority Bangladesh, police and medics said. Asif Mohiuddin, 29, was attacked on Monday night by three unidentified men near his office in Dhaka's upscale Uttara district. (Photo: Babu Ahmed)

Asif Mohiuddin was attacked Monday by three men with knives

Later, in an exclusive Interview, the 29-year-old told DW from his hospital bed that he believed that fundamentalists were probably behind the attack. "My blog posts angered them and they had threatened me couple of times before." Mohiuddin said his three assailants had attacked him from behind and he had not been able to identify them.

Mohiuddin's blog is one of the most read webpages in Bangladesh and is known for its strong criticism of religious fundamentalism. Ninety percent of Bangladeshis are Muslim and a large minority holds very conservative religious views. The title of his blog is - in the eyes of fundamentalists - most provocative. It is called "God, Almighty only in name but impotent in reality." Last July he made fun of Muslims and the Koran in a widely-read satirical piece entitled "the mass conversion of supermen to Islam," which outraged many on the far right.

'Bloggers like him attacked, killed or injured much too often'

Ute Schaeffer, DW's editor-in-chief, expressed deep concern about the incident: "Asif Mohiuddin is one of the voices against Islamist extremists in Bangladesh. He is one of those brave people who expose wrongdoings around the world and stand up against hatred and oppression. Bloggers like him are attacked, killed or injured much too often, because they fight for basic rights. We just cannot accept this."

Bloggers in Dhaka protest against the attack on Asif Mohiuddin. (Photo: Sharat Chowdhury)

Demonstrators demand protection for people in media

Meanwhile, Mohiuddin's family has expressed concern about his safety because he is not under police protection at the hospital. His sister, Juella Zabunessa Khan, told DW that "We did not get any support from the government and police yet. But we need support from police for the safety of my brother. He can be attacked again, because they (attackers) want to kill him."

Several other prominent Bangladeshi writers have also been attacked in recent years for their stand against extremist Islam and Islamic groups. The most famous case was that of Humayun Azad, a poet, novelist and literature professor. Back in 2004, he sustained severe injuries when he was attacked by members of an outlawed Islamic militant group angry about a satirical novel he had written. He later died in Germany.

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