A silent coup
February 26th, 2017 at 11:12 am
A silent coup

By Maskwaith Ahsan;

Bangladesh is going through a phase of alarming radicalization. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with an obvious intention to remain unchallenged, has over and again vowed that Bangladesh will follow the Medina Convention.

Initially it was thought that the slogan of “Medina Convention” was just rhetoric to please the sentiments of Muslims. Some Awami supporter even tried to justify this rhetoric by saying that Sheikh Hasina was trying to counter the religious politics of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which was a trading partner of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

But as days roll by, Hasina seems to be falling in her own trap; her religious sentiments are overpowering the spirit of democracy. She has recently renewed her commitment to rebuild the society in light of so-called Islamic teachings.

Bangladesh protest

Fanatics demand execution of atheists in Bangladesh – File 

On this matter alone the ruling Awami League can be seen clearly split along ideological lines, with the splinter faction sticking to the secular spirit of the 1972 constitution designed to establish an inclusive peoples’ Republic where people from all religions could enjoy equal rights.

The other group within the Awami League is adamant to establish a Muslim Bangladesh based on the dream of Jamaat-e-Islami. This group appears more powerful, as it has a more effective role in the decision making process. Its aspiration is to go beyond Pakistan and have a country like Saudi Arabia. From textbooks to tailoring houses, a recreation of the Islamic Kingdom is getting obvious.

With the collective connivance of Jamaat, BNP and Awami League, the Hindu community is being wiped out of Bangladesh. Statistics reveal that all the parties are sharing the land and wealth of uprooted Hindus. Other religious and ethnic groups have gone through this same crime against humanity committed by all the three leading political players.

In step with the “an eye for an eye” political tradition the Awami League has benched the BNP since coming into power. Some Jamaat leaders have been tried for their crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 struggle but now it seems to be merely a ploy by the Awami League to portray itself as having successfully cleaned up the mess created by Jamaat.

The reality on the other hand is that the Jamaat is now more influential than before. It has historically sided with every regime in power so as to achieve its target of creating a nation like Saudi Arabia.

Over the course of decades the Jamaat-e-Islami systematically planted its people in every political party and administration of Bangladesh and that’s why we can clearly see that no matter which party come to power the political thoughts of Jamaat remains dominant across the nation.

Bangladesh textbook

Progressive students bring out procession in Dhaka to protest doctoring of school textbooks – file 

In different times groups with different names like Ulama League or Hefajat have come forward with similar demands all designed by the Jamaat. Excluding Hindu writers from the textbooks and radicalization of the educational system have been implemented during the present Awami League regime according to the will of Ulama League and Hefajat.

Now even the education minister of Awami League says that Islamic teachings should be the backbone of the educational system of Bangladesh.

Just as the Jamaat affiliated groups in Pakistan created a “kafir factory” by declaring their opponents one by one as kafir, in Bangladesh too they have created an ”atheist factory” which has led to the killing of many writers and bloggers.

The Awami League hasn’t even bothered to condemn such fatwas and actions of the Hefazat let alone hold its leaders accountable for publicly declaring the killing of atheists as “Wajib” (religious duty).

Instead, the Awami League openly sided with Hefazat by refusing to allow the display of slain blogger Avijit Roy’s books during the Ekushe Book Fair. So much so that this year the Ekushe Book Fair took place under strict police scrutiny to identify and remove any element in any book that could in any way hurt the so-called religious sentiments of the right-wing.

Now Hefajat has come up with a new demand to remove the sculpture of Themis from the Supreme Court premise and replace it by a replica of the Holy Quran. This has unmasked many closeted right-wingers who have come out in open support of this demand.

It seems that the Jamaat-e-Islami has been successful in replacing true Islamic philosophy with its own brand of conservative religious politics.

Bangladeshi writer

Maskwaith Ahsan is an expatriated journalist and writer