The government of Bangladesh has clearly demonstrated that the arrest of three bloggers, Subrata Adhikary Shuvo, Russell Parvez, and Mashiur Rahman Biplob, on April 1, 2013, was no April Fool joke. Bangladesh police also arrested another blogger, Asif Mohiuddin, two days later. What was the reason? The four arrested young men have been alleged to have hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims of Bangladesh. There are no specifics in the news media as to what exactly they wrote in their blogs that hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims.
While the government has not provided any specifics on the alleged crimes of the bloggers, they have been put on police remands for terms varying from three days to a week. In Bangladesh, a remand generally implies torture in police custody for the alleged offender to confess and or divulge information.
Before the potential barbaric treatment in police custody, the first three gentlemen along with their computers were displayed before the news media. The display was as if they were criminals, and as if their computers were lethal weapons seized by the heroic police.
What prompted the government to arrest the bloggers? A Muslim group, named Hifazat-e-Islam (Protectors of Islam), demanded harshest possible punishments for the supposedly atheist bloggers, who were alleged to have insulted Islam and its prophet Mohammad, thus hurting the sentiments of the Muslims. This Islamist group, who are based mostly in the eastern city of Chittagong, was planning a long march to Dhaka to press their 13 point charter of demands.
Following are condensed versions of some of the 13 demands by the ‘protectors of Islam’:
• Restoring ‘Complete faith and trust in the Almighty Allah’ in the constitution of Bangladesh.
• Law for the maximum punishment of death sentence for defaming Allah, Mohammad and Islam.
• Harshest punishment for self-declared atheists and bloggers who led the Shahbagh movement.
• Stopping all alien-culture, including free mixing of male and female, and candle lighting.
• Mandatory Islamic education for minors (primary through higher secondary schools).
• Declaring the Qadianis (Ahmadiyyas) as non-Muslim.
• Stopping sculptures at intersections, schools, colleges and universities.
• Stopping anti-Islamic activities by NGOs and conversion to Christianity.
• Freeing all arrested ‘Islamic scholars’.
Aside from turning Bangladesh into a seventh century Islamic haven, the demands include support for the ‘Islamic scholars’ who are facing lawful punishments for their alleged and proven (for three) crimes against humanity during the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971.
Interestingly, the Shahbag movement, led by some bloggers, was highly praised by the government during the weeks preceding April 1, 2013. The currently governing political party of Bangladesh, Awami League, has always claimed the ownership of the 1971 liberation movement. The Shahbag movement, which began on February 5, 2013, has been primarily for demanding capital punishment for the convicted war criminals. While there are arguments on the government’s sincerity about actually punishing the war criminals, as opposed to trying to score political points by holding the trials, the Shahbag movement seemed to have rejuvenated the honest spirit, even within the governing leadership, of actually punishing the most heinous crimes in the history of the land of Bangladesh.
Thus, the arrest of the first three bloggers was clearly a cowardly and imprudent reaction of the government to please the Islamist forces of Bangladesh. That act was followed by the arrest of the fourth blogger. The latest news today is that the four bloggers have been sent to jail. The government has also detained two more youth today, one for hurting Muslim sentiments in a Facebook posting, and the other for liking it.
I suppose psychologists can define the term “sentiment” better. But, here are two definitions from Dictionary.com: 1) a tendency to be influenced by emotion rather than reason or fact, 2) a thought influenced by or proceeding from feeling or emotion. Too much emotion is a sign of immaturity. In much of the Muslim dominated areas of the world, that immaturity is being translated into real hatred, and causing genuine sufferings for people who are by no means criminals or hate-mongers. In Bangladesh, a few months back, just one Buddhist youth allegedly hurting the Muslim sentiments in a Facebook posting led to the burning 50 Buddhist homes and 12 Buddhists temples. In that case, no one but that only one youth was even alleged to have hurt the so-called Muslim sentiments or Islamic sentiments. What has happened in reality is that the barbarians committed atrocities on innocent people, and no one has been punished for that in Bangladesh.
There is too much of the nonsense of accusing people of insulting Islam and its prophet in Bangladesh and in dozens of other backward countries of the world. This senselessness is by no means innocent; it has been translating into real acts of barbarity on innocent people.
Interestingly, the governments of Bangladesh talk about religious sentiments of all people. However, the fact of the matter is that they persecute people who talk logically about Islam, while allow the criminals who commit real atrocities against innocent and non-violent non-Muslims to roam freely in the country.
Much of the Muslim population of the world needs to bring their minds into a state of reasoning, sensibility and civilization. For example, one group calls itself Hifazat-e-Islam (protectors of Islam). Aren’t they committing the most serious form of insult on Allah and Mohammad? By branding themselves as ‘protectors of Islam’ aren’t they implying that Allah is not mighty enough to protect himself and his prophet? For the most striking example for Bangladesh, much of the genocide of 1971 in that land was done by brainwashed hateful minds to ‘protect Islam’.
The government of Bangladesh has bowed to the fanatics, and has been committing severe injustice to the four young bloggers over the last ten days. If the bloggers criticized Islam, they should have been criticized back with reasoning and clarification. If they actually insulted Islam, they should have been left for Allah himself to give the punishments. By persecuting the bloggers, the government is trying to protect Islam. To a logical mind, the government is showing its doubts about the power of Allah to protect Islam. The barbarians and their soft supporters are surely not doing justice to Islam; they are making Islam and Muslims objects of fear and despise, as opposed to respect.
This senselessness and hatred of ‘protecting Islam’ needs to come to an end for a world that the most intelligent life-form, humankind, deserves.
About the Writer: Sukhamaya Bain is a US citizen who was born in a place that is a part of today’s Bangladesh. He earned a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry in 1987, and currently works for the US federal government, evaluating chemistry. While being a scientist by profession, he believes that societal justice is vital for the well-being of mankind. Thus, he occasionally writes on sociopolitical issues.