by TISARANEE GUNASEKARA

A BOOK fair in Dhaka, Bangladesh; a man and a woman walk about checking out the stalls. Looking back months later, the woman thought they may have been holding hands. She remembered that they were discussing dinner, whether to eat at home or to eat out, ordinary conversations about ordinary things.

The attackers materialise as if from nowhere. They wield machetes and they are intent on murder. They are many and their victims are unarmed. The place is crowded, but the attackers know that no-one will stand in their way. This is not the first time a man has been hacked to death in broad daylight for his beliefs and this will not be the last.

So Avijit Roy dies, killed for his ideas by those who believe that they possess a heaven sanctioned monopoly on truth. Roy’s freethinking earned him the violent wrath of Bangladesh’s Islamic fundamentalists.

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