Everyone averted their eyes when secular blogger Oyasiqur Rahman Babu was attacked by radical Islamists in Tejgaon, Dhaka Bangladesh. That was understandable given the violence with which they tore Rahman’s face apart with machetes.
Everyone that was except a transgender woman. Labannya Hijra grabbed two of them as they fled by the t-shirts, machetes clanging to the ground and held them until the police arrived.
Captured were Zikrullah, a student of Hefazat-e-Islam’s Hathazari Madrasa in Chittagong, Ariful, student of Mirpur Darul Uloom Madrasa, Masum, and Abu Taher according to The Dhaka Tribune.
NPR talked with the editor of the Dhaka Tribune about these horrific attacks on the free press in Bangladesh. Listen to the interview here.
This was an incredible act of bravery. Bangladesh has been beset with radical Muslims intent on killing secular bloggers like Rahman who write articles critical of religion. These Islamist radicals see this as a personal attack against them and have been conditioned to react violently to it.
According to Counter Currents the two told police “Our Hujur [religious teacher] told us that he [Oyasiqur] is an anti-Islamic person. It was our responsibility as believers to kill him. So, we killed him,”
Labannya tried to remain anonymous but when people began congratulating her for the brave act it appeared she couldn’t. The admiration she was being shown was in stark contrast to her daily life. as Bangladeshi transgender women have been regulated to the lowest caste in society, without opportunities generally relying on the goodwill of others to survive.
When media finally caught up with Labannya she exhibited pride in herself and her community as she told a reporter from The New York Times.
“We in the hijra community, we don’t want any terrorist activity in this society,” she said. “We want an environment where each and every person, including hijras, can move around the city safely.”
Transgender people worldwide live in societies made less by religious extremists, all religions not just Islam. We need to confront those terrorists as Labannya did, be it by the T-shirt or by the overwhelming response to hate as just happened in Indiana.
Transgender people will thrive in an open and welcoming society. We can not exist in one that is controlled by religion, any religion.
You can see by what Labannya did, all we need is a chance.