Every time a perpetrator gets away with an act of communal violence, others are emboldened
Bangladesh is a diverse nation, founded upon values of secularism, democracy, and communal harmony.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently delivered a much-needed reminder in parliament, saying the government was determined to uphold the values of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, as well as other religions.
Indeed, in Bangladesh, all groups should have the freedom of worship, and should not have to fear persecution when doing so.
But we must face that fact. Even though Bangladesh is a secular nation in principle, we have, over the years, witnessed many acts of violence against various communities. Who could forget the attack on Buddhist communities in Ramu, Tekfnaf, and Ukhiya incited by a false Facebook post?
Or, for the matter, when fire was set to many Hindu families, also spurred on by a social media post, which was calculated to foment hatred?
Then there were attacks in Comilla and Brahmanbaria, again driven by antagonism towards people based on their beliefs.
The unpleasant truth is that hateful, intolerant elements do exist in our society, and it is incumbent upon the government to make it clear that such elements will be given no quarter.
Every time a perpetrator gets away with an act of communal violence, others are emboldened, and a precedent is set that this kind of behaviour is acceptable.
It is not. Too many sacrifices have been made to build Bangladesh as a nation of tolerance and harmony, and we cannot, at this point, let dark forces take over.
As we march forward economically, it is important to also safeguard our true values -- those concerning our responsibilities towards our fellow human.