Washington, DC  – On March 21, 2015, about 100 Bangladeshi-Americans, human rights advocates, and interfaith leaders gathered in Dupont Circle to highlight the recent murder of a humanist writer. The rally, titled “Standing with Avijit” responded to the February 26 murder of Bangladeshi-American writer/blogger Avijit Roy by religious extremists in Dhaka.

“We are here to rally, to stand with Avijit and Bonya,” noted Drishtipat DC, the rally organizer and a secular Bangladeshi diaspora group.  “We want to see a Bangladesh that is secular and tolerant and where divergent points of view are not only accepted but allowed to thrive.”

The attack of Avijit, which also critically injured his wife and co-writer Bonya Ahmed, has drawn broad condemnation from the United States government, as well as religious, secular, and human rights groups worldwide. At the rally, secularists noted that the killing is one in a pattern of attacks on secularists by religious hardliners in Bangladesh.

The rally included a moment of silence, an interfaith statement of solidarity, readings, Western and Bengali songs, tributes to Avijit written by Md. Jafar Iqbal and Prof. Dipen Bhattacharya, a statement from Bonya Ahmed, and a chant for justice that named the following victims of religious attacks since 2004: Professor Humayun Azad in Dhaka, Prof. Mohammad Yunus and Prof. Taher Ahmed in Rajshahi, bloggers Rajib Haider and Asif Mohiuddin in Dhaka, and Prof. Shafiul Islam in Rajshahi.

Rally organizers and participants hope to follow up with further activism urging both the American and Bangladeshi governments to bring justice to Avijit, protect secular writers, maintain law and order, and uphold freedom of thought in Bangladesh. Further event details may be found here. All queries may be sent to DC.Drishtipat<at>Gmail.com.