Bangladeshi court jails Islamist for life for attacking top writer

DHAKA: A Bangladeshi court on Tuesday sentenced an Islamist to life in prison for attempting to kill a prominent secular writer and professor by repeatedly stabbing him during a university seminar in 2018.
Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, a renowned science fiction writer and professor at the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in the northern city of Sylhet, was stabbed six times in the head, neck and left hand in March 2018.
The Northeast Special Anti-Terrorism Court in Sylhet sentenced 28-year-old convict Foyzul Hasan to life in prison, another to four years in prison and acquitted four others in the attempted murder case against the Iqbal writer.
The verdict observed that the defendant Hasan was not linked to any extremist outfit but was influenced by jihadi literature and he believed that Iqbal was mocking Solomon, one of the biblical prophets also revered in Islamin one of the books he wrote for children.
The 68-year-old professor was a faculty of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) when he was attacked on the campus of the same university by Hasan, who was residing in an area adjacent to the university.
Hasan, who was an alumnus of a traditional Islamic seminary, was captured by students immediately after the attack and severely beaten by angry students.
The recipient of Bangladesh’s top literary prize, the Bangla Academy Award, in 2004, Iqbal is known for his secular activism and science fiction writing, novels and chronicles on social issues, particularly critical of religious extremism and corruption.
The judge said Hasan believed a children’s book written by Iqbal mocked and defamed Solomon, one of the biblical prophets also revered in Islam.
“Blindness has taken hold of those who carry out such attacks,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said shortly after the attack and urged Bangladeshis to remain alert to the threat of extremism. Hasan stabbed Iqbal in the head, back and left hand. Iqbal was immediately rushed to a local hospital and then airlifted to a military hospital in Dhaka for further treatment.
The professor, who has also studied and taught at universities in the United States, is a bestselling author and celebrity speaker who regularly appears on campuses across the country as well to motivate young people on education and values ​​as a champion. longstanding of freedom of expression and secularism.
“He (Hasan) told us that it was his duty as a Muslim to resist those who work against Islam (and) Dr Zafar Iqbal was an enemy of Islam,” Colonel Ali said. Haider Azad Ahmed of the elite Anti-Crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) at this time.
Bangladesh has been the scene of horrific attacks on secular activists, religious minorities, bloggers and foreigners, many of whom have been killed with machetes.