He returned to Bangladesh for a book fair knowing that a death threat was in force against him, for his book Biswasher Virus, which is Bengali for The Virus of Faith. In "The Virus of Faith" he writes:
As soon as the book was released, it rose to the top of the fair's best-seller list. At the same time, it hit the cranial nerve of Islamic fundamentalists. The death threats started flowing to my e-mail inbox on a regular basis. I suddenly found myself a target of militant Islamists and terrorists. A well-known extremist by the name of Farabi Shafiur Rahman openly issued death threats to me through his numerous Facebook statuses. In one widely circulated status, Rahman wrote, "Avijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. But he will be murdered when he comes back."
During a total solar eclipse in 1919, Sir Arthur Eddington's historical experiment paved the way to test Einstein's theory over classical Newtonian physics. In a similar way, I think the publication of Biswasher Virus created grounds for testing the hypothesis of whether religious faith can and does act as a virus.
He quotes Salman Rushdie, saying "Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms." While I don't believe that religion proper need be incongruent with reason or rationality, I begin to wonder if Roy's hypothesis of faith-as-virus may not be onto something. Even outside of the religious sphere, there exist many forms of faith which can become fanatical: simply believing that one's group is superior to another, whereby the outlier may be rendered "a target."
In the end, attacks against free speech fail, because ideas outlive their carriers, and will even find subsequent embodiment. At least that is what we have to believe, as sentient human beings.
In America we are schooled, to accept the expression of any thought or idea, no matter how antithetical or heinous seeming it may be to our personal disposition: "I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it." Unfortunately, adherence to these principles—attributed in this formation to Patrick Henry—has been waning in recent years.
On a positive note (to quote Claude McKay), "What though before us lies the open grave?" From the vantage point of the soul—or speaking Socratically—it remains ever more important to outrun not death, but dishonor, which is faster. In the case of Dr. Roy, the question has been settled in his favor; and one only may hope that his words and dedication to truthful inquiry and expression live on.