By: Chris Emmanuel Dsouza
The cult of ISIS style king has penetrated into Bangladesh society. This has been well orchestrated in the series of street murders of Secular Bloggers in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a country, which was carved out of Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1971, after a bloody battle against the Pakistan Army, costing over three million Bengali Lives. One of the predominant factors of its separation from Pakistan was the nature of racist Islam that was practiced in the Islamic Republic.
The killing of blogger Nazimudin Samad last week, by Islamists outfits, is the fourteenth of such brutal attacks on Secular, humanist, and Anti-Islamist bloggers in the country over a year and a half. Most of the victims of the series of brutal assassinations have been the Social Media activists rebelling against the rise of radical and political Islam in Bangladesh, a nation founded on the principles of secularism, Coexistence, and pluralism. One of the high-profile murders was of renowned activist and blogger Avijit Roy in January 2015. Roy was the founder of Mukta Mona, a Bengali Website dedicated to fighting Religious Myths and restore Free Thought and reason in Bangladesh. He had also authored several books and had held a celebrity status among progressive social circles. On his return from a Book Festival in Dhaka, Roy and his wife were pulled out of the Auto-Rickshaw and attacked with Machetes, slaughtering Roy to death and nearly killing his Wife. Nevertheless, Roy’s works and activism continues to hold ‘, iconoclastic image, in the thriving Secular Humanist movement in Bangladesh.
Despite worldwide outcry to the level of Barbarism, the country’s lethargic approach has left its liberals, seculars and minorities in a petrified condition. The sad part in these tempestuous events has been the timid and impotent response from Bangladeshi politicians, media, and the civil society. Above that, There has been a vicious attempt from the political establishment to stifle free speech and silence the voices of reason in the country. The Islamists are on the run, they have no fear of law or death, they marshal sermons ordering the killings of secularists and minorities and are left totally untouched by the Cops.
Over a year ago, the Al Qaeda branch in Bangladesh had released names of eighty bloggers to be executed for their atheistic and Secular writings and posts. It was issued as an edict for all Muslims, to carry out the act. Since then, things have worsened, and the region has become increasingly dangerous place to live for secularists, as Bangladesh is inching closer to total Islamisation. The murder threats and horrifying edicts have been spectacularly effective, as the slightest resistance against Islamism can snuff out one’s life.
To make matters worse, the country’s population has been exploding geometrically and stands Eighth worldwide with a mammoth 168 Million and at the same time with a reeling per capital income of $1190 US Dollars as of 2015, ranking 155th in the world (3). Although the ruling party of Bangladesh is run by a woman, who happens to be the daughter of nation’s founder, the socialist progressive Sheik Mujiber Rehman and the main opposition party is also led by a woman, widow of country’s first dictator Zia Ur Rehman, the overwhelming status of women in the country is dismal. There have been numerous reported and unreported crimes of rape, assaults, kidnapping and forcible conversion of women, mostly of minority faiths and lower strata of country’s caste system. Most of the perpetrators have had links to Islamists evangelical outfits, and so far the Law enforcement and the government has failed to confront these influential goons. The Secular movement in Bangladesh has been fighting a hard battle; cut, wounded and blood spilled for the rights of assaulted women, endangered minorities and against the onslaught Islamists lobby that is pushing Sharia in every institution in the country.
However, what can Bangladesh do to counter Islamic extremism after all? The infamous Jamiat Cleric involved in the 1971 genocide of Bengali civilians, has been hanged to death, but that has not restrained Extremists to back off. During the time of its Independence in 71’ , about 15% of the population made up Hindus, today it’s less than 8% (1)(2). As Saudi Funded Evangelical outfits gained momentum in the region, a substantial portion of Hindus, fled to neighbouring India and Burma. In 1992 following the destruction of Babri Masjid, a disputed Mosque located at Ayodhya (India), by the Hindu Right Wing Outfits; saw an adverse effect in neighbouring Bangladesh. Over 200 Temples were destroyed and several attacks were aimed at Hindus as Islamic fundamentalism in the subcontinent surged in the 90’s, catastrophically triggering Far Right Hindu Nationalism in India (4).
During the time, The incredibly gutsy Novelist and Women’s right Activist, Taslima Nasreen, penned a Novel’ Lajja’, written with the backdrop of persecution and oppression of hindu families. In “Lajja” Taslima placed the cause of Islamic Extremism to the doctrines of 7th century Faith itself and emerged as one of the first Feminist writers in the oriental to take such position (5). Taslima’s work created a huge uproar in the country, the Muslim clergy’s hauled decrees from the loudspeakers calling for the murder of the then thirty-one-year-old female writer, thousands of angry demonstrators barged into the streets of Dhaka, and the Novelist was forced by the government to move out of the country and seek refuge elsewhere.
Shooting forward to 2016, As the situation seems to further deteriorate in Bangladesh, with predictably more killings that would follow, the growing secular and humanistic movement on the social media is showing no signs of defeat, in the turbulent times it is bursting with undisputable strength and rushing with courage. The backing from the US State department and other world wide rights organizations for the Bloggers, is a Silver Lining, in this Dark, Pathetic and sinister episode.