Bangladesh social media activist held for defaming religion

World Tuesday 26/December/2017 14:59 PM
By: Times News Service
Bangladesh social media activist held for defaming religion

Dhaka: Bangladesh police arrested a 25-year-old social media activist as he tried to leave the country on charges that he defamed religion, authorities said on Tuesday.
Immigration police detained Asaduzzaman Noor, known as Asad Noor on his Youtube channel, at Dhaka airport on Monday evening, inspector Mohammad Shahidullah told AFP.
Shahidullah said hundreds of people staged demonstrations against Noor this year in the southern coastal town of Amtali after the head of a seminary filed a case against him.
Noor was charged under Bangladesh's strict internet laws and could face up to 14 years in jail if found guilty.
Rights groups have accused the Bangladesh government of muzzling dissent and targeting atheist bloggers who have used social media to criticise religion.
In 2013, four Bangladeshi bloggers were arrested after nationwide protests in which hardline groups demanded the execution of atheist commentators. They were later freed.
In recent years, atheist and secular voices have been targeted by extremist groups, who have hacked to death a dozen bloggers, publishers and activists, and forced others to flee overseas.
Following the attacks, the government launched a crackdown on extremist groups.
In July last year however militants stormed a Dhaka cafe and massacred 22 hostages, including 18 foreigners, in an assault claimed by the IS group. Security forces have since killed more than 70 alleged militants.