Bangladeshi atheist 'kill list' includes nine UK bloggers

A 'kill list' has been published by a militant Islamic group in Bangladesh which includes nine British-based bloggers.

Ananda Bijoy Das was one of the bloggers hacked to death by Islamist militants in Bangladesh.Twitter

The extremist group, Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), appears to have published the hit list of secular bloggers, saying they will be killed if their demands are not met.

Four atheist bloggers have died so far this year in Bangladesh where more than 90 per cent of the population is Muslim. All were outspoken critics of extremist Islam and ABT has been blamed for the killings.

Targets on the new list include nine bloggers based in the UK, seven in Germany, two in the US, one in Canada and one in Sweden. Some are Bangladeshi citizens who have fled overseas and some have dual nationality or are citizens of western countries.

The list raises fears that the recent attacks of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh will become international. Although there has been no previous indications that the ABT will extend their attacks overseas, the list will worry security authorities in Europe and the US.

"Our weapon is [the] pen, and we can use it without hurting anybody," Ananya Azad, a Bangladeshi blogger who has been forced into exile in Europe, told the Guardian.

"We just want to make people conscious about their rights. So that nobody can use them to fulfill bad intentions."

Despite Bangladesh's constitutional guarantee of free speech, atheism remains a taboo.

There is a widely held but mistaken perception that atheists are "anti-religious," said Ali Riaz, a professor of politics and government at Illinois State University.

ABT's perceived aim is to silence atheist or secular views. A statement released alongside the list appeared to demand the bloggers be stripped of their citizenship.

"Cancel the Bangladeshi citizenship of enemies of Islam and [Muslim religious] education, atheists, apostates, unbelievers, anti-Islamic ... bloggers, agents of India ... otherwise they will be killed wherever they can be found in the Almighty's world," it read.