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    Judicial Baby Steps: Dhaka Charges Religious Extremists in Gay Activist Murders

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    In an unprecedented move, several extremists and members of the terrorist group Ansar al Islam were charged by Bangladesh police on Sunday for their involvement in the murder of two gay rights activists in 2016.

    According to deputy police commissioner Mohibul Islam Khan, only four out of eight Islamist extremists accused of carrying out the killings have been arrested. 

    "Among them four have been arrested and the rest are still at large," Khan recently told the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

    According to Irish-based human rights organization Frontline Defenders, Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy were killed in April 2016 in their apartment in the Kalabagan area in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. The human rights defenders were killed by an unidentified group of men carrying machetes and guns. Mannan was the senior editor of Roopbaan, the country's first LGBTQ magazine.

    Despite the fact that Al-Qaeda claims it was behind the murders of the two men, Bangladesh police believe that the killings were committed by Ansar al Islam members, who have murdered atheist writers, social activists and religious minorities since 2013.

    Bangladesh has attempted to crack down on Islamist extremists after ​Islamist militants took hostages inside a cafe in Dhaka's diplomatic quarter in July 2016. Bangladesh security forces intervened but not before 22 people were killed. 

    According to Amnesty International, armed groups in Bangladesh have killed dozens of secular activists, foreign nationals and LGBTQ supporters. The attacks are carried out by the Ansar el Islam and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh groups, the latter another Islamic terrorist organization operating in the nation.

    "Rights to freedom of speech and assembly are under assault, as the government applies repressive laws and presses arbitrary criminal charges against journalists who publish criticism of the government. Other media and civil society activists also report threats and intimidation," Amnesty International has noted on its website.

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    activist, secularism, terrorist, gay, Bangladesh
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