At a recent roundtable program between policymakers and stakeholders, both parties stressed the urgent need for eliminating violent extremism carried out by militant outfits and extremist groups in the country.
They also warned that if the country’s citizens failed at battling the problem of extremism, it would be the people who suffer the most, and Bangladesh’s global image will be tarnished.
Noted intellectuals, high-ranking security agency officials, diplomats, educationalists, cyber experts and journalists took part in the roundtable titled “Role of Civil Society in Preventing Extremism,” held at Dhaka Tribune on March 14.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute Vice-President M Humayun Kabir presided over the gathering where a study titled “Expanding Collaboration to Enhance National CVE Efforts” was presented.
Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) Central Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar said: “The more we know about it, the more we know about the diversity of violent extremism, the more we know the conditions which really induce people to become radicals and violent extremists, the better equipped and prepared we can be.
“Not only this, we have to know about the interventions which are being worked on for the violent extremism. If we cannot eradicate the menace from our country the consequences for us will be bad.
“We have to realise that radicalization or extremist violence does not happen in a day. Violent extremism was not amongst us in our previous history. We have to research properly how it originated here and how it has attracted our disgruntled youth.”
Citing the example of rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, the prominent intellectual said that three factors – stolen elections, endemic corruption, and deprivation of common people in every step of life -- were at work behind this. Before, Afghanistan was not like the country we know today.”
Dr Badiul also suggested more research into violent extremism and radicalisation in our country and the South Asian regional context.
Experts said extremism and radicalisation were not new in this region. Adding that the solution cannot be found if the genesis of the problem was not identified properly and without attachment of the engaged people in this sector.
Speakers agreed that it would be necessary to involve the people who would benefit the most from de-radicalization efforts.
Speakers used the example of the Islamic State (IS) to highlight how ideological gaps in society are fulfilled by radicalization, leading to extremist violence.
Former inspector general of police Nurul Huda said: “The politicians of the country have to take a lead in combating the radicalization and extremism problem.
He suggested that more networking should be done with right-minded people and the country should not be of the belief that the problem is ineradicable.
The BEI representatives said: “We are trying to carry out our activities at the grass-root levels. It requires a lot of time and effort. And at the same time, we need innovative solutions. We are working with a small number of radicalised young men and women.”
Members of the security establishment, experts like Dnet Chief Executive Officer ABM Sirajul Hossain, journalists including the Dhaka Tribune’s Editor for Planning and Strategy Abu Sayeed Asiful Islam, representatives of the diplomatic missions and Democracy International’s Chief of Party Kaite Croake also attended the roundtable, among other participants.
Officials from BEI and DI also took part in the roundtable. The event was jointly organised by Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and the Dhaka Tribune with the support of Democracy International.