19 August 2016
BANGLADESH ; WHERE IS IT HEADING TO ? - By Imran Chowdhury
A country with so much of potential and scopes to emancipate its image has just started to slide down hill ; a slippery slope of decline.
Sprawling, vibrant, secularistic Bengal presently known as Bangladesh has suddenly fallen prey of the league of the so called Islamic Terrorism. Growth of these new brand of militant islam and the rise of racial and sectarian intolerance is one big worry for the nation state.
Over burdened with vast population and lack of infra structure, dearth of mass industry to generate youth employment or employment as a whole have opened a new calamitous front to tackle with.
A sleepy back waters of Ganges delta which have been predominantly practiced sufi sect of Islam since the day islam came to her shore in the early 12th century.
Bangladesh or erstwhile Bengal had been one the most secular states till up to the rise of the Neo - Ultra islamic of thoughts in the mid forties of the last century. When a new claim for a state of divided India for the muslims was promoted. With which the need seed of apartheid and hatred amongst the various religion,races and castes started to grow. Before that, it was still manageable.
During the movement of establishing Pakistan; a home land for the muslims of India ; there came a rise of islamic preaching and new schools of thoughts started to emerge. The muslim of erstwhile Bengal became the most vocal promoter of the idea of Pakistan. The Muslim league of India in essence was born in Dhaka ; under the auspicious patronage of the aristocratic immigrant feudal nabobs of Dhaka in 1906. Emergence of Pakistan and subsequent liberation movement and the war of liberation of Bangladesh drew a distinct line. A die hard pro Pakistani ideological group in the name of protecting Pakistan betrayed with the population of East Pakistan and sided with the Pakistani Junta and the army — where they butchered the freedom fighters and millions of innocent people.
After getting defeated in 1971 they have yet again emerged under the cover of religion and started to sip into the society to rehabilitate themselves and spread the bent ideology wrapped in the delicate membrane of religion ; which is being the most softest all issues for the vast majority of people of this impoverished, poverty stricken, down trodden segments of the society and amongst the religiously inclined devout innocent population. They used the cover of religion to conceal their political identity and their political agenda to start of with, The infiltration was simultaneously pushed for maximum penetration from diversified ranges of avenues from Mosques, to Madrassas, to Industry, to charities, to Govt and to semi government sectors, Finance, Banking, Insurance, Media and Press to name a few.
At the same time; a few events elsewhere in the world have impacted their grip and growth — namely, The siege of Mecca in 1979 by Mehdi group and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan shook the seat of Islam and the Muslim clergy in Mecca. The muslim clergy of the Mecca since the rise of the Saud family in the early 20th century allowed the emergence of a new theological school of thought ; known as the Wahhabism.
The Wahhabism needed to expand its agenda of preaching their new brand of Islam and challenging the age old sunni sect in the South east and elsewhere. The urgent emergence of Wahhabi army ( non combatant — reserve ) and ousting the other preachings of islam in the areas where in excess of 45% of world’s muslim come from ( Indonesia , India, Pakistan & Bangladesh has more 45% i.e. 700 million of muslims ) was of paramount importance. There came the ideological strategical partnership with the new infiltrators in Bangladesh and in the region with the Wahhabi. This puritanical code of conduct of life style of islam pumped enough Petro Dollars towards their new partners to promote the Wahhabi brand of lslam since 1979 onwards.
These groups regrouped themselves in fighting the Russians and then be ready to defend islam in case another renegade pro Shi'ites have go at sieging Mecca like the Mehdi group once agin.
The Afghan war ended with a mess in the region and these redundant warriors retreated back to their bases and started to promote their bent concocted ideology of inculcating hatred, xenophobia, hatred towards the west and jews — hindus — christians and harshest of all polluting the brains and minds of millions of youngster with misinterpretation of The Holy Quran and enticing these innocent minds to pick up Jehad as the tools to establish their goal of establishing a Pan world Islamic [Wahhabi] domain.
Ironically, during the rise of this group in Bangladesh and other 3 countries all had one thing in common was that all three of these countries were ruled by the Military at the time simultaneously. Those despot military juntas in essence turned a blind eye and allowed these group to rise and in many cases those military rulers had formed alliances and patronised the growth of these preaching. The military rulers found them as their natural ally. It is evident from all around that, everywhere military rulers have given a green signals toward the rise ultra right wing religious based political parties.
The rise of sympathy and public trust towards the Arabs were epitomised by the Middle Eastern expats from these countries who went there from the early seventies to seek fortune have started to promote the Middle eastern values and specially Saudi Arabian life style and the Holiness of the People of that mythical land to the people of their own countries. These expats were remitting millions of dollars back home to their families which changed their lives forever. Which was perceived as a blessing for the Almighty. It became a home from home for millions of people who were working in the most inhuman of conditions, facing enormous hardship, racism, abuse, fraud and discrimination - Their only hope was their faith and nearer to the House of God.
But, Unknowingly these vast army of day labourers have unintentionally promoted them to their respective countries which was bankrolled by these bent preachers to motivate the people on the back of the PR promoted by the expats and the religious preaching created a synergy to brainwash millions of innocent souls.
The Wahhabi islam school of puritanical branch of the religion have been accused of colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Moududi’s Jamari - E - Islam in Pakistan; Their remnants in Bangladesh became the strategical partners at arms.
From the day of revival of these new phenomenon - they have been at it to engulf the whole population with it’s new message by getting itself rehabilitated in almost all spheres of life under the auspicious help from the secret services, military junta and foreign donor and within a decade they rose from the ashes of their own carcasses of 1971 defeat.
A conniving plan of deceit of preaching have nearly obliterated the centuries old practices of the religion norms, customs, practices to a new order. The youth and the adolescents , the older and middle generations were targeted very categorically to shun the sufi the age old rituals and introduce a more militant ideology of jehad and establishing a pan Asia to Middle East Umma. Their ideological deceit has changed the demographic segments of the country from a secularistic, liberally dressed women to a more Beduins attires.
Mistakes by the West in terms of Incursions and aggressions in the middle east and in the Central Asia i.e. Afghanistan have added fuel to the preaching fire to foment and ferment hate against the West and The Jews.
The brain washing of the youngsters in Bangladesh went unchallenged by successive governments and other law enforcing agencies due to the fear of God and not upsetting the religious hierarchy of the country. The country saw an unprecedented growth of faith based schools and madrassas and colleges and universities which allowed them to have a free access to millions of students as their captive audience of brainwashing and radicalising.
The kettle was reaching it’s boiling point unnoticed — unchallenged and unregulated. A smoke screen of complacency went on for far too long. Even the perpetrator’s agents and ideological think tank members were included in the running of the country to help institutionalise their stamp on to the public life of the country ; their one and only aim was to prove that, They were not wrong during the war of liberation and now it is time to prove to the world that The Bangladesh liberation war was a futile exercise and they would love it to fail to create a vacuum of unrest to try and obliterate the status quo and make the country into Islamic Republic of their choice and enslave the free spirit and the modern lifestyle into more of regressive and oppressive sharia society. They branched out in various pseudo outfits and names to obscure their true affiliation and association.
The country is highly inclined towards religion from the dawn of the history but not a fundamental follower ever — the embodiment of these neo ideological advancement were never seen by the public with suspicion as they were naive enough to envisage the hidden agenda and the ulterior motives of these new preachers on the loose. Slowly and gradually their reach of radicalisation started to reach a segment of the upper echelon and upper middle class societies which gave it a seal of approval. The cohorts of these groups sleeper cells even helped rehabilitate them in various branches of the job market, bureaucracy, services and non government and government agencies. A feather in their caps of preaching and radicalising and brainwashing reaches its pinnacle of bluff and deceit. What an absolute irony !
A very learned source once expressed a very damning introspection about his own race ; The Bengalis. Whilst discussing whole range of issues — a comment made under the breath was something very stark-
Bengalis are predominantly an anti establishment race ; Don’t like accepting dictate from the authority and always very left leaning hence, it has always been observed that, The race is very susceptible to fall prey into the hands any kinds of ideological preaching, motivations, political and social theories. From the dawn of history the journey of the people of Bengals is full of infestation of Shantal movement( shanty Hool) , Farazi movement, Titumir’s army to Azad hind fauz (ANA) , Maoist Naxalaitties, to Marxists to various underground political ideologies going on till date in some parts of the country . Any kind of anti establishment ideology breeds rapidly in the mist of bengal’s vast left leaning mindset. Some may argue these were the nationalist outbursts against suppression or oppression and independence - There were those elements there too - no quibble about those.
Poverty, illiteracy and seeking adventure without any regimental lifestyle emulating a filmy hero perhaps played the most important role in the game of radicalisation, Most Bengali ( without offending none) people suffer from a small men syndrome — for them to be reassured of a heroes status here in after was a dream came to true to prove their prowess.
In a poverty stricken, no light at the end of the tunnel life ; a dream can easily be in-surmounted into those brains of those innocent birds of preys. Painting all rosy — lofty pictures of the unknown world — coming from the mouths of the people who they worship as a role model and idolise them like a rat of the pipe piper of Babylon. A comfy temptation of misinterpreted verses of the holy books can twist any mind. Can be very easily impeded in their minds.
The process of this shift from an ordinary bloke to a vicious, dangerous, ready to assassin operative happens in months various anti radicalisation research suggests the theory. There seems a very short period of incubation. Which is the biggest of all worries to tackle.
The avalanche of radicalisation — brainwashing and religious of islamic propaganda encompassed almost all groups — sects and schools of thoughts ranging from Deobandis, Salafi, Ahmadiyya , Shia, Wahhabi, sufism. Every group wanted to have a bite on the cherry ; comprising of 150 million captive muslim audience. Some of them purely non militant and some were aggressively proactive with hidden agenda at the back of their minds,
In the mist of it all the vast majority of the population were baffled and confused. Hence, these various branches were able to brainwash in the name preaching their brand of religion. The government , law enforcing agencies and the intelligence community had no clue or means to collect, collate and assimilate the activities of these various clandestine outfits — who all were openly trading with the most delicate and fearful of all the Nemesis ; The Religion.
The franchises of various other including these were operating up and down the country and were infiltrating in all most all spheres of the life of the country for the last 4 decades.
In the wake of these sudden terror attacks and the subsequent fall out from these has perhaps awaken the whole system.
It is unheard in the history where a Bengali to ever volunteering for a suicidal act on the cause of a religious belief ; it has never happened and bengali race is perceived to be very safe players when it comes to embracing martyrdom — this just speak volume of the scale of the deep rooted the problem has penetrated.
The international terror groups are subscribing these small renegade home grown groups or these home grown franchise groups are seeking blessing from their global propaganda apparatus. Nevertheless, the level of threat, penetration, spread of the cancer of radicalisation is something which the country cannot afford to ignore nor can be complacent. It is evident that, the reach of these bent ideology has spread its wing in the middle and upper middle class of the demography. The age old belief towards other types of educational institutions were moved by their conniving ploy. It could be another way to divert attention by staging it by a different segment to divert resources for another spate of atrocities. When there is in excess of 6.5 - 7 million students are studying in the faith based schools, colleges, madrassas and other institutions. These vast number of students get lost in the mist of the society and grey economy where the country and the economy or the society are deprived of their resources of talent and their expertise in the process of emancipation of the lot.
It is high time for the country and it’s all mechanism to wake up and start addressing these issues of menaces. It is a cancer which needs a proper prognosis and a planned approach to eradicate this. The society must not harbour or denounce them totally — it is end of the day an inclusive society and the detoxing process must allow them to the rehabilitated back into the society. Above all, the handling and uprooting the problem needs an urgent plan of action and strict regulation is needed. A comprehensive de-radicalisation plan is imperative. The approach to the de radicalisation must have to be a collective of all agencies , stake holders, expertise and if need be the government must seek outside consultancies. There comes a need of evolving a new techniques or counter narrative of de radicalisation. This is just not an internal issue — this issue can unsettle the regional peace and progression and threaten the equilibrium of the neighbouring states of the region and the islamic majority countries in the region.
This writing by no means to blame any particular group or a school of thought - it’s rather an introspection as to what has gone wrong and how a very cynical vested quarter with a twisted ideology has secretively stolen the religion to a different spectrum from a peaceful one to a militant one ; which is bound to have counter productive repercussion in the society, region & the world. The declining foreign buyers, export market shrinkage, cancelled export orders, local economy is jeopardy are just the tip of the disastrous iceberg. More detrimental catastrophe are yet to emerge.
Time to act and act in cohesion to uproot the menaces once for all. One must not forget the impending threat and how volatile the mushroom growth of these twisted ideologies are . It is a tinder box waiting to go.
If we fail then it is not known Bangladesh ; where is it heading to !