By Emran Hossain/The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — As four bloggers in Bangladesh have been arrested in recent days, others in the country’s blogging community worry that they could be next and accuse politicians of trying to suppress people’s freedom to organize and speak out in order to preserve their own political power.
Last week, police detained four bloggers in the capital city of Dhaka who have been critical of the government’s pro-Islamist stance. Home Minister M.K. Alamgir warned that the government has a list of seven more “atheist bloggers” who will soon be targeted.
Alamgir has not revealed who the seven bloggers are on his allegedly “atheist” list, although several groups of Muslim fundamentalists have named names. The latter lists are currently available on social media, with one identifying 84 bloggers.
The Huffington Post reached out to seven prominent Bangladeshi bloggers, all on the Islamists’ lists. The three who replied said they were concerned that they could be targeted.
The bloggers described an ongoing fight between Islamist forces that want to drive the country in a religiously fundamentalist direction and the online journalists giving a voice to those Bangladeshi who want a more open, tolerant society.
“Bloggers have become the voice of people in recent days in Bangladesh,” said one of the bloggers, who requested anonymity out of fear for his safety and who is currently staying in an undisclosed location. “Most of the bloggers don’t belong to any political party, they boldly criticize any oppression and injustice. So, this freedom became a headache for mainstream politicians, and now they have started to control freedom of speech in the internet, especially in blog and social media.”