A leading Bangladeshi writer and academic Professor Humayun Azad was found dead in his hotel room in Munich, Germany. Prof. Azad was the recent survivor of a brutal assassination attempt in March. Remarkably, he recovered and was well on his way. He was in Munich to participate in a Bangla writer conference. While the german police thinks a heart attack is the cause of death, his family members are expressing grave doubts in light of continued death threats against him.
Why was Humayun Azad a marked man? A prolific novelist, he shamelessly exposed the religious right in his country for their violence towards women, their hypocrisy in clinging to political power and their fascist programs for the nation. The attack came after the publication of his 2004 book Pak Sar Zamin Sha’ad Ba’ad [Long Live Pakistan] in which the Islamo-militant hero tries to convert Bangladesh into a distorted Pakistan. The hero gets his indoctrination from the writings of Abu’l ala Maududi (founder of the Jama’at-i Islami) and Khomeini (Iran):
We are not alone, our brothers all over the world are doing their work. If they fly an airplane into a building somewhere, if some car crashes into a hospital or hotel, or if a bomb blast kills 300 people in some recreational centre, then we know it’s the work of our brothers; in other words, it is our work. This is Jihad.”
The protagonist, though, has a change of heart after he falls in love with a Hindu woman and abandons his ways. In earlier novels, Azad called for women’s sexual revolution, for re-distribution of land.
The Islamic jihadists in Bangladesh could not win in the jihad of ideas so, they revert to what they know best: terror.
May Azad’s novels and his legacy produce millions of new independent, contrarian, thinkers and actors.