Ex­trem­ism in Bangladesh

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENT -

THE cold-blooded slay­ing of Xul­haz Man­nan, Tanay Mo­jum­dar and Rezaul Karim Sed­dique last week in Bangladesh marks the con­ti­nu­ity of a grue­some trend that ger­mi­nated with the hack­ing of blog­ger and ac­tivist Avi­jit Roy in Fe­bru­ary last year. Man­nan, the edi­tor of a mag­a­zine and a US em­bassy worker, and his friend Mo­jum­dar, were hacked to death in a Dhaka apart­ment. A cou­ple of days prior to that, Sed­dique, an English pro­fes­sor at Ra­jshahi Univer­sity, was killed by ma­chete-wield­ing as­sailants on his way to work.

This re­lent­less spate of tar­geted at­tacks on writ­ers, ed­u­ca­tors, blog­gers and ed­i­tors who pro­mote lib­eral ideas, con­trary to the con­stricted and ret­ro­grade world view adopted by ex­trem­ist groups in Bangladesh, shows no sign of abat­ing — last week’s killings bring to nine the num­ber of lib­er­als hacked to death in the coun­try this year. This cy­cle of vi­o­lence and the rapidly spread­ing cul­ture of fear and in­tel­lec­tual in­tim­i­da­tion must end — as a con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy, the right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion of all peo­ple must be re­spected and pro­tected. Along with an in­ter­na­tional out­cry, sec­tions of the public at large have called for ex­em­plary ac­tion from the gov­ern­ment to pre­vent such at­tacks in the fu­ture. But apart from a zero-tol­er­ance ap­proach by the gov­ern­ment, longterm so­lu­tions to such bar­barism also lie in other ar­eas of Bangladeshi so­ci­ety. Work to up­hold truly lib­eral and tol­er­ant so­cial val­ues must be­gin at the grass roots and this is where stake­hold­ers rang­ing from ed­u­ca­tors and the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship to so­cial work­ers and NGOs have an ex­tremely crit­i­cal role to play. Vi­o­lent protests or preach­ing on hu­man rights are eas­ily achieved — the bat­tle to wipe out the scourge of ex­trem­ism is a long and hard one and must flour­ish across the heart of Bangladesh. — Gulf News

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