Two questions have to be raised. Firstly, why could the police, RAB and local leaders and activists of Awami League, who prevent the opposition from taking to the streets, not stop the later attacks? Except the failure of the administration and the government, what could be the explanation of failure to apprehend further attacks on Friday? Secondly, aside from the arrest of Iqbal Hossain, why are the main architects of the incident of keeping the Holy Quran at the Cumilla puja mandap not being searched for and detained? Political activists need to come forward to face such situations instead of depending too much on bureaucracy. Because, though the steps of the law enforcement agencies are important here, it is not the task of the police or bureaucrats to bring a halt to the practice of hatred and malice among people.
When one of my progressive and patriot Hindu friend phoned me on the day after Bijoya Dashami (day of immersion of the deity), I just could say, I’m ashamed
We all know certain religious speakers have been spreading hate speech in the country in the name of religious sermons for long. The home ministry prepared guidelines as discussion on the issue was raised. It asked to stop ridiculous and controversial speech in the name of religious sermons, registering the religious speakers as per their educational background, stopping from instigating and malicious speech in the name of religious sermons. It also talked about bringing the people under book for their statements against the state and religious harmony. But are those directions being followed? What is happening around does not indicate so. Some of the religious speakers in their speech, we observe, put emphasis on four things -- Hindu religion and the people, educated and progressive women, democracy and science.
When one of my modern, progressive and patriot Hindu friend phoned me on the day after Bijoya Dashami (day of immersion of the deity), I just could say, I’m ashamed. It’s because Islam never teaches to remain fine while keeping your neighbours in sorrow and despair. Both the Holy Quran and the hadith discusses with due importance the responsibilities to neighbours. Of course, the religion or the culture of the neighbor is not a matter to consider, it has not even been specified. Almost since the time of independence of Bangladesh, our neighbours and fellow citizens, the people of Hindu community are being victims of a certain quarter of extreme communal forces and greedy people. Neither this is the task of any pious Muslim nor the people who respect the beliefs.
We request the prime minister to issue clear directives to her party men so that the leaders and activists of the party create a friendly environment for the Hindu community working at the field level. We must not forget many of the perpetrators are activists of Awami League and its associate bodies. People know that many desperate people, forgetting their party identity, harm the communal harmony to occupy the property of Hindu people. We hope the prime minister will cleanse her party as many of those people have gained positions within the party. As a result, it would be a bigger task for her, on the one hand, to assure the minority Hindu community and ensure their security and on the other hand identifying and expelling the communal forces and miscreants within her party and handing them over to the law. As a result, the terrified citizens will to some extent feel relieved.
But, the reforms have to be made at the roots. Without this we cannot move ahead. On the one hand, we are talking about globalisation, on the other hand, no necessary reform has been made in the curricula of madrasah education. For this, it is not possible for the madrasah students to realise the changes in the lifestyle in the post-industrial world, and at the same time, avoiding this message of changes in the society many of the madrasah graduates have been presenting an incomplete and distorted explanations of religion. Politics also has a role in all of this. Almost all the parties have used the blind faith and prejudices of people for their political gains.
The maulana who goes to perform hajj on a Boeing, uses modern equipment for medical treatment, uses the mobile phone, computers or internet, must remember that Muslims are neither inventors nor producers of most of such essential things of today. Many people prefer medical treatment from Hindu physicians in neighbouring India than in the country. Even inside the country, many Hindu physicians have been serving irrespective of Hindu and Muslim patients. In reality, in the modern times, who could say the religion of the person, who has been husking the rice we are eating?
The maulana who goes to perform hajj on a Boeing, uses modern equipment for medical treatment, uses the mobile phone, computers or internet, must remember that Muslims are neither inventors nor producers of most of such essential things of today
In actual life, it is our mutual help and dependency that keeps us alive. Who would say, the people of how many religions, castes and cultures are directly and indirectly involved with the import and selling of daily essentials? We are part of a global human community. There is no way we could deny it and by damaging any part of this we bring misfortune upon us. Damaging the communal harmony that has been formed at the contributions of many people over a long time for our paltry gain means we are inviting our own destruction. Taliban and other militants are ultimately destroying them by using the arms and ammunition invented by Christians and Jews. Has not the religious text said why a certain nation is destroyed?
The government and the majority community should seek apology for what has happened with our Hindu neighbours. At the same time, we need to work for dispelling the mistakes and illusions of people. At the very first, hate-speech in the name of religion has to be stopped by enacting a law. Taking initiatives to obey the guidelines of the home ministry in this regard is essential. The over enthusiastic people, who have gone astray, must remember that Bangladesh will be under a huge pressure if anything happens in India as a result of their injudicious actions here. Irresponsible behaviour of a few people brings danger for all and destroys peace, security and contentment of all. No state could ask for its repetition.
* Abul Momen is a poet, essayist and journalist.
* The article, originally published in the print edition or Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza