(CNN) – Grief and shock after a brutal double murder. On Monday evening a gang armed with machetes carried out a deadly home invasion in the Bangladeshi capital. Killing two gay rights activists.
A local branch of Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for this savage act of homophobia. Something violent and frightening is happening in Bangladesh.
A majority Muslim country and secular democracy where nearly a third of the population lives in poverty. Militants linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS are hunting down activists and intellectuals and killing them, one by one.
They’ve murdered at least six atheist bloggers and secular publishers in just 14 months and activist say they’ve documented thousands of cases of violence and intimidation against religious minorities.
Rabindra Ghosh, founder of Bangladesh minority watch, said “Rape, abduction, gang rape, forcible conversion, destruction of temple and also destruction of houses belong to the minority community.”
These days, even some Muslim clerics don’t feel safe. Ahmed Reza Faruqi/Sufi imam explains, “Extremism in Islam, now its rising. Now it’s rising day by day.”
Ahmed Reza Faruqi is an imam at a mosque in the Bangladesh capital who follows a mystical interpretation of Islam known as Sufism.
His father, Sheikh Nur Islam Faruqi, regularly preached peace and tolerance on TV.
For that, his son says Faruqi received threats from hardliners from the Wahhabi branch of Islam, which often rejects Sufism.
Imam: “My father has been threatened from that side people, from Wahhabi people, from terrorist people.”
In august 2014, attackers broke into the elder Faruqi’s home him, tied him up and slit his throat. Ahmed Reza has taken over leadership of his father’s mosque. This Muslim cleric is calling on the government to crack down on Islamic extremists before it’s too late.
Imam: “If these sectors will not be stopped there will be a massacre. Massacre with the people who loves the Sufism, who loves the moderate Islam.”
Hug: “We try hard to protect our citizens.” He rejects claims that the machete murders are being carried out by local members of Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Hug: “There is no existence of ISIS in this country. Now isolated incidents can take place and one amateur can demand that I belong to ISIS. That does not make him a member of ISIS.”
In this a growing climate of fear in Bangladesh, some community leaders vow to stand strong against what they describe, as the forces of darkness that threaten their country. Hug: “No I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of the terrorists and I will not fear of the darkness.”