Since September 2001, terrorism has dominated the headlines. But there is a much less discussed form of terrorism — assault on dissidents in which the very systems meant to protect them fail and hand them over to their killers.
The attack on dissidents is robbing families of their loved ones, instilling fear in communities, and obstructing many pathways toward deep reform within the House of Islam. It is long overdue for security forces and governments to modify their policies and stand unwaveringly by the universal human right of free speech.
Last month, Jordanian writer and political activist Nahed Hattar was murdered in cold blood outside a local court for “insulting Islam” by sharing a satirical cartoon on his Facebook page.
Hattar was murdered by a “known extremist” cleric as he was facing trial by his own government which opposed his freedom expression. These autocratic and quasi-theocratic governments often light the fuses of radicalism which at times they explode themselves and other times hand over blindly to rogue assassins who they empower.
In Bangladesh, bloggers who question theocracy are slaughtered in broad daylight – this year alone, at least eight dissident bloggers have been murdered. In Pakistan, dissidents and even lawmakers who break rank with the religious establishment are murdered with impunity – often with their own bodyguards tipping off and aiding the killers. When they are not killed, Muslim reformers, dissidents and freethinkers are threatened, stalked and made to live in fear. With the continued advance of Islamic State and those who are inspired by them, the problem is growing.