There is an eerie feeling out on the streets of Bangladesh. To some of the city’s academics, activists and gay community, Dhaka now feels more dangerous than a war zone, after a spate of machete attacks by Islamist groups, including the murder last week of the founder of Bangladesh’s first magazine for the gay community.
At least 16 people have died in such attacks in the past three years, among them six secular bloggers, two university professors, an Italian priest, two other foreigners working in the development sector, and a prominent gay activist.
“I am more worried now here than I ever was in Afghanistan, where the threats were more of an existential nature,” says a gay American who has spent time in the war-torn country and now lives in Bangladesh. He asked not to be named.
Among his friends to have died were Xulhaz Mannan, a prominent activist – founder of Roopbaan, the country’s only magazine for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community – and Mannan’s friend, Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy. Six to seven assailants pretending to be from a courier company forced their way into Mannan’s apartment and hacked the two men to death last week.
Homosexuality is illegal in Bangladesh and many members of the gay community were already living in fear of being identified. Now they also have to fear for their lives – and the murders have in effect outed many young people by forcing them to change their daily routine. Read more via the Guardian