A Bangladeshi blogger Ashif Entaz Rabi seeks asylum in USA as threat escalates.He said to AP,` When I was hosting a TV talk show about a slaying of a publisher by Islamic extremists,I faced a torrent of threatening phone calls’ . He added , young men with earpieces started loitering outside his workplace, and a militant website urged followers to “send this Ashif to Allah.” Rabi is now in Washington, USA at the invitation of a human rights group.
Rabi claimed, but Bangladeshi authorities told him they couldn’t protect him, saying he’d need the kind of security usually reserved for the prime minister to keep him safe. Instead, they told him to take care of himself, and write something good about Islam and the government.
Rabi, 37, is in Washington at the invitation of a human rights group, calling attention to the dozens of writers and bloggers who fear they could be the next victim of a wave of savage attacks on liberals and religious minorities in Bangladesh. The violence has had a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the traditionally moderate Muslim nation.
Tuesday marks World Press Freedom Day, and a coalition of rights groups are calling for a U.N.-backed inquiry into the killings because Bangladesh’s government has failed to address the situation. They say “an atmosphere of complete impunity” in the South Asian nation is emboldening the killers. Since the beginning of 2015, at least nine intellectuals, academics, writers, bloggers, and activists have been hacked to death in targeted assassinations.
Rabi attended the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner at the weekend, and met Tuesday with a top State Department envoy on human rights, Tom Malinowski, to discuss the deteriorating climate of tolerance in Bangladesh. He’s also hoping to find a way to secure sanctuary in the U.S. for himself and his immediate family.
“It’s better that the international community do something rather than just make statements. It’s no use just issuing letters, as the prime minister (of Bangladesh) does not care,” Rabi told The Associated Press on Monday.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday, urging Bangladesh to protect those at risk. He also offered U.S. support for the investigation into the slaying last week of Xulhaz Mannan, a U.S. Agency for International Development employee and gay rights activist.
Since December, the U.S. has said it is considering providing temporary sanctuary to some individuals at immediate risk. The State Department said Tuesday in some cases it is working with nongovernment groups to reach out to individuals who may be under threat and need emergency assistance.
A broader concern for Washington is that transnational jihadist groups could gain a foothold in Bangladesh despite the nation’s traditions of secularism, free speech and respect for its Christian and Hindu minorities.
Nearly all the attacks have been claimed by groups like the so-called Islamic State and various affiliates of al-Qaida. The government, however, has denied that these groups have a presence in Bangladesh, and has blamed the violence on the political opposition.