It is true that the Bangladeshi nation is very sensitive about its secular identity. But some recent developments in Bangladesh give away its insecurity rather than showing the country’s wish to consolidate its identity as a secular nation. First, there were calls for a complete ban on the Jamaat-eIslami. Then the Cricket Board of Bangladesh issued an order that stopped Bangladeshi cricket fans from flying flags of any rival country during a cricket match. Although the order was taken back after it received harsh criticism from international as well as some national quarters, it said a lot about the thinking of the higher-ups sitting in the board.
If anything, the afore-mentioned steps point to a growing tendency of authoritarianism. I am sure the government of Bangladesh wouldn’t want to earn this title. The most prominent characteristic of a secular entity is its freedom. If Bangladesh wants to establish its secular credentials, it should give the masses the freedom to choose. The JI has been in Bangladeshi politics for a long time. How many times did it rule the country? Not even once. The Bangladeshis are a nationalist people by nature – their separation from Pakistan proves this fact. They will not allow a party with obvious religious leanings to rule them. Instead of banning the JI, the government of Bangladesh should let the people refuse it in elections.