Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Tahmina Anam's Article: Bangladesh on the Brink

Tahmina Anan, the critically-acclaimed writer of A Golden Age, a well written novel that I had the pleasure of reading some years ago, is bold and brave pointing out the key issues surrounding the growing murderous criminality in Bangladesh. She rightly observes the following in her The New York Times article:
"Even if the intelligence shared by America and Australia is right about Bangladesh, that is only part of the battle the country now faces, because the threat to pluralism doesn’t come exclusively from outside our borders.  
It comes every time someone questions a fellow citizen and asks whether his version of Islam is the real one. It comes when people first appear to condemn the death of the bloggers but then qualify their condemnation by saying that the bloggers may have, after all, offended the faith. It occurs when we accept the casual racism directed at minorities, whether they are Hindu or Shiite or from one of the indigenous communities.  
Those who threaten us from beyond our borders are only capitalizing on a trend that is already tolerated, and sometimes endorsed, by the wider population. The attacks on foreigners and on citizens who represent a secular Bengali tradition reflect the rise of a sharply conservative Islamist nationalism in Bangladesh. As we adjust to this new era, we would do well to remember that intolerance begins at home."
In a pluralistic society, people has the right to peacefully practice their religions or non religions. In a peaceful nation that Bangladesh sees itself to be, good decency also dictates not to show intolerance, either verbally or by written words towards anyone's faith or non faith. However, having said that this is also true that every living human being also has the right to say whatever he or she wishes to say without inciting the raw hatred toward another person or a community. And above all, no one has the right to kill and maim another human being just because he or she said or written something that is opposing to someone's deeply held faith or ideology.

What I see in Bangladesh is severe polarization, mainly across the political line. This is the same gruesome mentality "either you are with us, or you are with the...", fill in the blank with whatever you would like this to be, say, "terrorists", "Islamists", "bloggers", "atheists", etc., purposefully denigrating words to dehumanize the opposing group of people for the sake of total domination. The political factions in Bangladesh from both sides of the polarized boundaries have to wake up to reign in their hatred spewing words and activities. I believe there is still time to turn this culturally diverse nation back to its congenial core, being tolerant, secular and truly democratic by deeds and means.

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