2013 Bengali blog blackout

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Picture used by online activists to show the solidarity with 2013 Bengali blog blackout

On 4 April 2013 (0700 GMT) all Bengali blogs were blacked out for an indefinite time to protest the arrest of four bloggers in Bangladesh (Moshiur Rahman Biplob, Rasel Parvez, Subrata Adhikari Shuvo and Asif Mohiuddin).[1] The blackout was to back a demand for the unconditional release of the arrested bloggers.[2][3] A fundamentalist group named Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh started a campaign to hang freethinking bloggers, and demanding tough blasphemy laws.[4][5] In response, the government started monitoring Bengali blog sites and sending letters to their authorities to terminate the alleged "anti-religious" blogs and provide information about the alleged "anti-religious" bloggers.[6] Individual bloggers showed their solidarity with this blackout by changing their profile photos on Facebook and by tweeting with the #MuzzleMeNot hashtag.[2] Different international organizations expressed deep concern about taking free-thinking bloggers into custody.[7][8][9] After 92 hours of blackout, blogs returned online by publishing a press release on their central Facebook page.[10]


From the beginning of the Shahbag protest, bloggers came out on the streets to demand capital punishment of Abdul Quader Molla, a war criminal of the Bangladesh liberation war and a leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. During the protests, a controversial author, pro-Shahbag blogger and online activist Sunnyur Rahman, popularly known as 'Nastik Nobi' (Atheist Prophet) in the blog community, was stabbed on 7 March 2013.[11] Another pro-Shahbag blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider who was critical of Jamaat-e-Islami, was killed by a few Jamaat activists.[12][13] Afterwards, a Jamaat backed Islamic fundamentalist organisation started a violent protest demanding the death penalty for all allegedly "anti-Islamic" bloggers, and they termed all participants of the Shahbag movement as atheist.[14] The spokesperson of the Shahbag movement Imran H. Sharkar said, Hifazat-e-Islam is desperate to thwart the war crimes trial and the process of banning Jamaat-e-Islami.[15]

Afterwards, the government of Bangladesh started monitoring the blogosphere and sent letters to the Bengali blog authorities to terminate the alleged "anti-religious" blogs and to provide information about the alleged "anti-religious" bloggers.[6][16]

On the night of 1 April 2013, three bloggers were arrested by the detective branch (DB) police. Blogger Rasel Pervez, a prominent physicist and blogger and Mashiur Rahman Biplob were arrested on 1 April 2013 from their house. Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, who is a masters student of the Bengali department at the University of Dhaka, was also arrested on the same day from his university dormitory.[17]
Another blogger Asif Mohiuddin was called to the police station on 3 April 2013, and when he went there, he was arrested.[18] Earlier, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission forced the Bengali blog somewhereinblog.net to remove all writings[19] of Asif Mohiuddin.[20] The move was criticized by Human Rights Watch,[21] Amnesty International, Center for Inquiry, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, and several other bodies.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ বাংলা কমিউনিটি ব্লগ এলায়েন্সের যাত্রা শুরু হলো [BCBA starts its journey]. banglacommunityblogalliance.wordpress.com. BCBA. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Bloggers in Bangladesh protest over arrest of writers". BBC. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bangladesh blogs blacked out on arrests of atheists". The Indian Express. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "'God Is Great, Hang the Atheist Bloggers!': Hundreds of Thousands Rally in Bangladesh for Anti-Blasphemy Laws". The Blaze. 6 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Bangladesh tense ahead of Islamist march". MSN News. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Bangladeshi blogger targeted by Islamists and officials". ifex. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Bloggers in Bangladesh Worry They Could be Next Targets of Government Crackdown". Huffington Post. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Take Action: Support Imprisoned Atheist Bloggers In Bangladesh". American Humanist Association. 
  9. ^ "Arrests of "atheist bloggers" shows Bangladesh authorities are "walking into a trap set by fundamentalists"". International Humanist and Ethical Union. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  10. ^ 'ব্ল্যাক আউট' শেষে ব্লগগুলো সক্রিয় [Blogs are come out from blackout]. Samakal. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "Blogger Saniur files case". banglanews24.com. 7 March 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Shahbagh blogger killed in Pallabi". The Daily Star (Bangladesh). 15 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Shahbagh protest to go relentless". bdnews24.com. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Hardline Muslims rally in Bangladesh amid shutdown". AP. 6 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Hifazat out to save Jamaat, says Imran". bdnews24.com. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "100,000 Bangladeshi Protestors Rallied To Demand The Execution of Atheist Bloggers". 6 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Four Bangladeshi bloggers arrested for "blasphemous" posts". ifex. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  18. ^ "Blogger Asif arrested". Daily Star (Bangladesh). 4 April 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  19. ^ Asif Mohiuddin. "God, Almighty only in name but impotent in reality (Blog title; transl.)". somewhereinblog.net.  present blog page reads: "blog has been withdrawn or cancelled for violating terms and conditions" (transl.)
  20. ^ "Bangladesh gags award-winning blogger". Deutsche Welle. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "Bangladesh: Crackdown on Bloggers, Editors Escalates". Human Rights Watch. 15 April 2013.  "the government is abandoning any serious claim that it is committed to free speech," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
  22. ^ Roy, Avijit (8 May 2013). "The Struggle of Bangladeshi Bloggers". Skeptic. Retrieved 6 June 2013.