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OP-ED: A blow to our secularism

  • Published at 03:39 am October 19th, 2021
Noakhali idols vandalised
A group of people took out a rally and carried out attacks on Durga Puja venues and Hindu homes in Begumganj upazila's Chowmuhani on Friday, October 16, 2021 Collected

The majority have repeatedly failed to protect the minority

Revered Fakir Lalon Shah’s 131 death anniversary was on October 16. His most popular song: “O how long are we to wait/For the birth of a society/Where castes and class and labels/Like Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian/Will be forgotten?/And none will be there to swindle the innocent/Pretending to be their saviour/Nor will there be bigots.”

“More than 80 special shrines set up for the Durga Puja festival were attacked, with about 150 Hindus injured and two killed,” writes the Guardian newspaper.

Many researchers dub this the worst racial riot, desecration of temples, and attacks on homes of Hindus and compare it to the post-poll violence that occurred when Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, in alliance with Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, swept into power on October 1, 2001. 

Thousands of Hindus took refuge in the neighbouring state of West Bengal, India.

If a nation is divided on the basis of religion, faith, and political ideology, it means that the country is following in the footsteps of Pakistan.

It’s a rule of the majority to dominate the society, politics and economy. Here the majority are Muslims and only about 12.73 million of the population are Hindus (8.5%) -- the rest are Buddhists, Christians, and ethnic communities.

The onus of the security and welfare of the minorities obviously rests upon the majority. The majority have a bigger slice of the state and politics. Thus, the state governed by the ruling party will have to shield the minorities and provide protection, security, and safety.

According to writer and researcher Mohiuddin Ahmad, nowhere in the world have racial strifes or sectarian violence occurred without state and politicians’ tacit indulgence, whether it be Bosnia, Gujarat, Arakan , Nasirnagar, or Delhi.

Interestingly, only hours later, the nomination of ruling party leaders allegedly responsible for instigating the strife in November 2016 has been stripped, and they cannot participate in the local government elections in Brahmanbaria.

At the first reaction, why were the two perpetrators given nominations in the first place? 

Shouldn’t those leaders responsible for selecting nominees for the local government elections seek a public apology? They must also admit their follies in compromising politics and crime.

In the last 20 years, the state has failed to bring the perpetrators and hooligans to face justice. They have enjoyed impunity, and this has caused a ripple of insecurity among the Hindus and other minorities.

Today, the civil society and citizens’ group misses the journalist and secularist Syed Abul Moksud, who was vocal on the issue of secularism, pluralism, tolerance, and hate crime. Moksud died last February, and his footprints will be found in almost all the cities, districts, towns, and villages, wherever there was strife. 

He urged the authorities to identify the criminals and prepare a list of people involved in hate crime, especially those who preached hate speech against Hindus and other minorities.

Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at <[email protected]>; Twitter @saleemsamad.

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