Ansar al-Islam, a Bangladeshi division of al Qaeda, took responsibility for the murders of an LGBT rights activist and his close friend killed Monday in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. The statement, made via social media, claims that Xulhaz Mannan and his friend Tanay Mojumdar were “the pioneers of practising and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh“ and that they “were working day and night to promote homosexuality among the people of this land since 1998 with the help of their masters, the US crusaders and its Indian allies.”
The statement fuels speculation that a global “hit-list” released by an Islamic extremist group targeting secular writers and bloggers has expanded to include LGBT activists. The list contains people outside of Bangladesh’s borders including nine people in the United Kingdom, eight in Germany, two in the United States, one in Canada and one in Sweden.
A statement accompanying the list demands that Bangladesh “revoke the citizenship of [these] enemies of Islam… If not, we will hunt them down in whatever part of God’s world we find them and kill them right there.” Bangladeshi authorities have done little to discourage these attacks, says Amnesty International. Exiled LGBT activists told Amnesty that attempts to report threats to authorities were futile; police warned them they would charge them with “unnatural offenses.”
Both Mannan and Mojumdar were openly gay leaders in Bangladesh’s LGBT rights movement. Mannan worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “He was the kind of person willing to fight for what he believed in, someone ready to stand
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