Saturday, January 10, 2004

Succumbing to the Religious Extremists




Dear Readers,

Banning the books and publications of Ahmadiyya in Bangladesh is utterly deplorable. It is the crude desecration of human rights of a minority sect for the appeasement of religious zealots.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is still widely perceived as the party of the mainstream Bangladeshis. By nodding to the vicious demands of Islami Oikko Joat, Hifazate Khatme Nabuwat Andolon, and goons and thugs who were behind the attacks on peaceful Ahmadiyya believers and on their mosques in the recent past, the government has shown its weakness. Its capitulation to the religious crooks and fundamentalists are not conducive for the betterment of the nation.

Bangladesh is a peaceful nation where millions of people from various religious backgrounds have lived side by side for centuries, peacefully. The recent shocking events, including the apparent threat imposed by the religious bigots, daring the government of Bangladesh to take unthinkable step in banning Ahmadiyya books points to a deeper trouble underneath.

Nonetheless, the Daily Star editorial rightfully observes: “The government should not be in the business of banning any religious books or any religious sect. The government, having a majority in parliament, had no reason to succumb to the pressure. This acquiescence might open floodgates of religious fanaticism. Today it is the Ahmadiyyas, and tomorrow, who knows, it may be another sect or a religious minority that will be targeted by the fanatic elements.”

And their demands will grow. Their pressure will increase on the government for other deep wishes of the Bangladeshi Talibans. Unless the government of Bangladesh put a check on this growing disturbingly bigotry filled phenomenon, “the smaller religious sects or communities will get wrong signals and so will the international community. Neither proposition is in keeping with the spirit of our constitution that guarantees full religious freedom to all citizens. Similarly, Islam is a religion of tolerance that has no place for coercion and intimidation. Finally, we cannot let any sect develop a persecution psychosis and still talk of democracy and liberalism.”

It is the extremists who are using hatred filled misinformation regarding the Ahmadiyya in garnering more political muscles on the BNP lead government. “Using the deep regard for religion among peace loving Muslims, this group is fanning hatred by misinforming the public. Regrettably, instead of clearing the air and putting the extremists in their place, the government has emboldened them by its ill considered action.”

The timely sensible act would be reversing this outrageous decision immediately and cracking down on the religious fanatics who are stirring hatred, pursuing their own ulterior political agenda, trampling peaceful harmony of Bangladesh.

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
January 10, 2004


Capitulation to Extremists

Clear case of using religion for political purpose


The government decision to ban Ahmadiyya books and publications has, for understandable reasons, drawn the attention of the people not ready to be carried away by the recent wave of fanatic upsurge. The ban is a meek capitulation to the religious extremists.

The government should not be in the business of banning any religious books or any religious sect. The government, having a majority in parliament, had no reason to succumb to the pressure. This acquiescence might open floodgates of religious fanaticism. Today it is the Ahmadiyyas, and tomorrow, who knows, it may be another sect or a religious minority that will be targeted by the fanatic elements.

The dangers associated with allowing the bigots to have too much leeway are self-evident. The smaller religious sects or communities will get wrong signals and so will the international community. Neither proposition is in keeping with the spirit of our constitution which guarantees full religious freedom to all citizens. Similarly, Islam is a religion of tolerance which has no place for coercion and intimidation. Finally, we cannot let any sect develop a persecution psychosis and still talk of democracy and liberalism.

Even if it is assumed that the Ahmadiyya publications contained certain things which could hurt others, the best approach to the problem was to engage them in a discussion and resolve it. What really defies comprehension is why the problem is being raised now. Ahmadiyyas have been living in peace -- barring the occasional troubles fomented by the zealots -- with other citizens for decades. There were pious and tolerant people who did not find it difficult to accept their presence. Why have a group of fanatics now set themselves the task of wiping out a small sect ?

The Ahmadiyya issue has clearly been blown out of proportions. The extremist outburst is repugnant to all democratic sensibilities; violative of citizens' constitutional rights; and tantamount to projecting ourselves as having little concern for smaller sects and religious minorities. In our view a certain extremist group is using religion for its political end. Using the deep regard for religion among peace loving Muslims, this group is fanning hatred by misinforming the public. Regrettably, instead of clearing the air and putting the extremists in their place, the government has emboldened them by its ill considered action.

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/2004/01/11/d40111020124.htm

No comments:

Post a Comment