DHAKA (AFP) - Police in Bangladesh arrested a self-styled "militant atheist" on Wednesday for anti-religious writings as part of a crackdown on bloggers in the face of pressure from radical Islamist groups.
The arrest of Asif Mohiuddin, 29, comes a day after the detention of three other bloggers and ahead of an Islamist march this weekend towards the capital Dhaka to demand the death penalty for online atheist writers.
"The detective police arrested Asif Mohiuddin on charges of hurting religious sentiment through his writings on blogs and Facebook," Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman told AFP.
Mohiuddin, who is famed for his blogs that ridicule Muslims, the Koran and other religions, survived a machete attack by suspected Islamists in Dhaka in January. His blog page had been one of the most visited websites in the country before it was removed at the order of the telecoms regulator.
Mohiuddin told AFP last week that the government was targeting bloggers to appease fanatics. "It's shame that the government is sacrificing the bloggers to woo voters," he said. His sister Zahida Meherunnesa told AFP that they were worried about his health as Mohiuddin was recovering from the gruesome attack.
There has been vociferous debate between staunch atheists and fundamentalists in Bangladesh's social media for years, but it took a deadly turn in February when another anti-Islam blogger was murdered.
The Muslim-majority nation has been hit by violent protests over a war crimes tribunal that is trying top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in cases dating back to the 1971 liberation war.
Secular bloggers have encouraged hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets demanding the execution of the leaders of Jamaat, the largest Islamic party.
Islamists have, in turn, held demonstrations demanding the trials be halted and have also begun targeting bloggers.
The government has blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem the unrest. It has also set up a panel, which includes intelligence chiefs, to monitor blasphemy on social media.