Extremism in Bangladesh
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