The intolerance and violence which has taken root, and has been rapidly growing in Bangladesh must be tackled systematically
The erosion of secular values in Bangladesh in recent years has been alarming, to say the least.
The public lynching and subsequent burning of a man from Lalmonirhat on claims that he had hurt religious sentiment was among the most horriffic in a series of cases of communal violence which took place in the latter half of 2020 alone. This is to say nothing of the vandalization of puja mandaps and other places of worship that become common occurrences every year.
But these are a mere handful of examples among countless more incidents. Overall, Bangladesh’s secular values have been slipping, with violence against minorities being regular occurrences. But there is no place for such division and strife in Bangladesh -- a country founded on the secular values, values that were embedded in the spirit of the Liberation War.
Echoing these ideas, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy in a recent event urged the country’s youth to remember the Liberation War’s fundamental pillars, and highlighted secularism as one of the Father of the Nation’s foundational principles which must be maintained.
While this sentiment is certainly appreciated, mere words of affirmation are not enough. The intolerance and violence which has taken root, and has been rapidly growing in Bangladesh must be tackled systematically through education and constant reinforcement of its secular ideals.
In an age of increasing divisiveness and hostility, it is essential for us -- and particularly the country’s youth who will take the helm -- to embrace the secular principles upon which Bangladesh was built, and move towards a more inclusive and progressive future.