The Ramu attack is a good reminder that Bangladesh doesn’t have the minimum commitment to protect the minorities. It was something far more than shameful as several hundred mullahs, probably supported by the Jamaat-e-Islami attacked Buddhist shrines and homes and vandalised those because of an alleged anti-Islamic photo in the facebook. It is at these moments that it becomes clear why Muslims are so unpopular in so many parts of the world. Few have taken collective and social barbarism to such heights even as they claim to be mistreated. If people want to practice such behaviour they should take flights to the Arab lands and do what is natural to such people there. Bangladesh is not for them.
* * *
Hundreds and thousands of Muslims recently took to the streets protesting the anti-Islamic film which was made in the USA and that has spewed violence in many parts of the world. In Bangladesh too massive rallies have been held protesting the movie so Bangladeshi ‘Muslims’ are clearly declaring which side they are on. Now that the Buddhists’ holy places have been vandalized and property stolen, it would be interesting to see how many Muslims here take to the streets to protest this sacrilege. It is important because Muslims are forever claiming to be victims but they are very silent when they commit the same barbaric acts on people of other faiths. We were not particularly concerned about how Arabs behave but this is Bangladesh in South Asia and we are committed constitutionally to protect all. The Ramu attack has challenged that basic principle and that is why it is so serious.
* * *
The Awami League response has been to blame it all on the BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami which is a fine lesson on how to be and sound pathetic. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that nothing happens and it has happened during their watch. They have such a wide network of spies and security agents so how come they never sensed anything? Or is it true what some people are saying on the street that the AL waited for the attack to happen so that they could blame the JI and the BNP to collect electoral brownie points? It would seem that the Government’s trust factor is substantially diminished and even the flow of benefit of doubt is being obstacled.
That the Government did know about the local MP who was anti-minority is absurd. It was not possible to gather so many to attack specific targets without a pre-plan but this seemed to have escaped the notice of the law enforcement agencies which is remarkable. We know that the law enforcement agencies are ineffective unless they are told to be so by the authorities so why they didn’t act is a mystery. And this makes the government looks terribly suspicious.
* * *
As for the BNP, it exists beyond shame. This is the party which allowed Jamaat-e-Islami to enter national politics just for political gain and now has become a partner to gain power. It shall be remembered as a party friendly to traitors and even now backing the Jamaat it shows how little it cares about the constitutional and moral obligations to the people. God alone knows from which bottomless pit of human degradation it draws its principles from. It supports a party that is committed to the denial of rights to all except their own kind of Muslims and bigotry and racism is structured as a faith element. It is convenient politics but immoral and vile as well and history shows such political constructs in the end collapse. Meanwhile, the strongest condemnation for the political company they keep and the cynicism they have displayed all along.
* * *
And so what of Jamaat-e-Islami? We have always argued that they have no space in Bangladesh or its politics. They have opposed the birth of Bangladesh so how can they be allowed to flourish in the same land whose birth they tried to end? It defies all logic but once one understands how Bangladesh functions, it becomes obvious. That doesn’t make the matter acceptable. The case for banning Jamaat is always there but what is required is the political will. If the AL can risk such a great deal of political uncertainty by passing the 15th amendment, why can’t it risk almost universal approval by denying Jamaat to be in Bangladesh?
* * *
After all the words are spent, what remains behind is the shame. We have allowed this to happen again and again. A fanatical, bigoted and backward people with a mindset of the 6th century, we don’t deserve Bangladesh. We didn’t need a new version of old Pakistan where more people die from internecine religious conflict than any other and it is perpetually mired in a medieval world of its own.
Bangladesh was to be the exact opposite but thanks to inefficiency, corruption, bigotry and religious excess, we have failed to build a state we could be proud of. For us there is only disgust.
On behalf of all who accept what we have said, our sincerest and humblest apology to the people who have suffered in particular and to all minorities in general.
Afsan Chowdhury is the Executive Editor, bdnews24.com