Faux sec­u­lar­ism?

Southasia - - CONTENTS - Sule­man Riyaj Chit­tagong, Bangladesh

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.

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