Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013

CPJ worried at arrest of bloggers

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed concern at the recent arrest of four Bangladeshi bloggers in Dhaka in connection with their Internet posts that police said hurt the religious beliefs of people.
“Targeting bloggers who may not agree with the religious sensibilities of the majority is cause for deep concern,” said CPJ Asia Programme Coordinator Bob Dietz.
A CPJ release issued from New York also quoted Bob Dietz as saying “Such a crackdown on the Internet creates a climate of fear and hinders free expression, which threatens democracy.”
Police on Wednesday arrested Asif Mohiuddin, a popular blogger who calls himself an atheist and who had often criticised Islamic fundamentalism and written about politicians and current events on his blog and Facebook page, from Dhaka.
On Monday, police arrested bloggers Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, Mashiur Rahman Biplob and Rasel Parvez from Dhaka.
Molla Nazrul Islam, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan police, told the local press that Shuvo, Biplob and Parvez had “hurt the religious feelings of the people by writing against different religions and their prophets and founders, including Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), said the CPJ release.
The arrest took place amid a wider government crackdown on the Internet following mass demonstrations, called the “Shahbagh movement,” in which protesters called for the death penalty for leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami on trial for war crimes during the 1971 war of independence.
Many bloggers have encouraged and publicised the movement, which has been joined by hundreds of thousands of people.
The Shahbagh protest has also led to Islamist groups staging their own demonstrations and demanding that the government give death penalty to bloggers perceived as atheists.
A CPJ research also shows an escalation in attacks against bloggers in Bangladesh since the beginning of the year. In February, Ahmed Rajib Haider, a prominent blogger critical of Islamic fundamentalism, was hacked to death by assailants outside his home in Dhaka.