“Beware of Bangladesh” was the cover title of the April 4, 2002 issue of Hong Kong-based magazine The Far Eastern Economic Review. This is the same Bangladesh that came out of a costly nine-month-long liberation war against the Islamic fascists and brutal junta of Pakistan in 1971. The newborn nation was fully inspired by a “non-communal” spirit, meaning one unbiased against Hindus. But the joy of liberation was tarnished by a struggle with the remaining Pakistani-created “vested quarter” of Al-Shams and Al-Badr forces. Slowly, the vested quarter entered into the core of the policy making. The country faced horrible tragedy from 1975 onward, with the restoration of military rule. The founding father of the nation was killed by army officials, and the nation stepped into a new tragedy. That was beginning of a new era in the history of Bangladesh. The constitution was amended many times afterward and the agenda of the vested quarter was fulfilled. The secular entity of Bangladesh ceased to exist, and a new entity that could be titled “Bloody Bismillah” was created. That was the foundation upon which the slow poison of political Islam began its entry into the land of peace. I want to recall a quote by the great Roman philosopher Seneca: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by the rulers as useful.” In Bangladesh, religion is indeed highly useful for all forms of politicians, on both the left and the right. The secular writer Taslima Nasrin was forced to leave the country by Islamic fascists. The free thinker Dr. Goni Gomez was killed by the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and the nation was shocked by the bomb blasts carried out by Islamic fascists in almost all the districts. These are the results of the Islamization of Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, the minorities live under threat all the time from extreme followers of Islam. We want to dream of a day when we will be able to worship on Christmas day without needing police security and without the fear of any bomb blasts. We want to dream of a day when Bangladesh will be free of corruption and when we will be free from poverty. We want to dream of a day when the people of all religions will sing the song of peace and harmony together and work together for a better Bangladesh. We want to dream of a better Bangladesh. We don’t want to see any title saying “Beware of Bangladesh,” but rather we want to see one saying “Bangladesh, a unique example of peace and prosperity.”

William Nicholas Gomes is a human rights activist and freelance journalist.He can be reached at E-mail:cda.exe@gmail.com