21-year-old arrested for stabbing secular writer

Wednesday 07th March 2018 06:03 EST

DHAKA: A 21-year-old man was arrested in Bangladesh for allegedly stabbing a secular writer multiple times during a university seminar, presuming him an "enemy of Islam", police said. Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, 64, a renowned science fiction writer and professor at the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in the northern city of Sylhet, was stabbed in his head and neck, local media reported.

Iqbal, an outspoken opponent of militancy and communalism, was rushed to a local hospital and later airlifted to a military hospital in Dhaka. Police said they have detained the attacker, identified as Faizur Rahman alias Faizul, a resident of an area adjacent to the Shahjalal University. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has "strongly" condemned the attack.

The attack took place during a festival where Iqbal was the chief guest. Rahman struck Iqbal from behind and stabbed him in the head, the report said. The students and the policemen guarding the professor held Rahman immediately after the attack. The students also beat Faizur up before handing him over to police.

Iqbal had recently criticised ragging on campus and said that five students punished for ragging had gotten off easy and should have been handed over to police, it said. Iqbal has been provided police protection since 2015 when militants threatened to kill him. There were six to seven policemen guarding him when the attack took place, the report said.

Lt Colonel Ali Haider Azad Ahmed from the Rapid Action Battalion of the police said Rahman told them he was a student of Alia Madrasa in Sylhet. But the law enforcers could not confirm the information, according to the report.

Rahman also told the law enforcers that he carried out the attack on the professor "to kill him because he was an enemy of Islam", the official was quoted as saying.

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