This week another man gave his life in the name of free speech, or to put it another way, the right to attack ideas with which you do not agree.
His story should shame those in the Western countries who are seeking to close down debate in the name of political correctness and ‘cultural sensitivities’.
His name was Oyasiqur Rhamen, he was 27 and he was hacked to death by three men with machetes on a street in the Bangladeshi capital – Dhaka.
Mr Rhamen appears to have had a sense of humour – blogging under the name Kutshit Hasher Cchana, or The Ugly Duckling. He also had courage, and a sharp way with words. This cost him his life.
He had written articles, which were undoubtedly insulting to Islam, and done so in an inflammatory manner, saying at one point ‘Get Islam destroyed’ and reposting a cartoon from a recent Charlie Hebdo cover.
Mature believers were shocked and insulted, and then got on with their lives, some content to heap opprobrium upon Rhamen in various media outlets.
However, the infantile and frightened wing of the religion succumbed, as it invariably does, to its violent tendencies.
Faced with criticism, and lacking confidence in the power of its ideas, it shouted the adult equivalent of a nursery school child screaming ‘waah’ and lashed out.
Two of Rhaman’s assailants were handed to the police by people who saw the attack. They said they had been instructed to kill him due to his comments, although they themselves had not read them. Both are students at a religious college.
The murder followed that of the blogger and author, 42 year old Avijit Roy, also killed by machete blows, five weeks ago. Roy’s wife was also seriously injured.
Rhaman was shaken by that attack and aware of the danger to himself. In a show of support, but also, we now know, in an act almost of prophecy he changed his Facebook profile to read “I am Avijit.”
There have been three murders of bloggers since 2013 and so far no convictions. If there is a single organization orchestrating the attacks it is not known, but the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir group is suspected of involvement. At least ten physical attacks on secular writers have taken place and they are succeeding in their aim. The secular blogs are closing down, the writers self-censoring, and the intellectual space shrinking.
In the Western nations we have the equivalent of the frightened babies of Bangladesh who will murder to ensure only one view is heard. Sadly we also have a generation of confused intellectuals and ‘activist students’ in the ‘Charlie Hebdo? Yes…but’ camp.
They may not knowingly condone murder, but they do seek to ensure that no ideas except those they find acceptable are given a platform. They are totalitarianism’s useful idiots.