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How Sheikh Hasina is helping Bangladesh's bloggers die

Taslima Nasreen | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:40 IST
QUICK PILL

The darkness

  • Many young, secular bloggers have been murdered in Bangladesh
  • Most murders took place in broad day light and have invited no reaction from the government

A plea for light

  • Political parties are the ones promoting extremism in the country for selfish interests
  • Until there is religion in Bangladesh, there can be no hope for democracy

It can be a matter of pride for one to be an atheist, to keep an open mind and to blog freely. A society where these people get respect, are cherished and sought-after is truly a civilised society.

However, there is a part of this world that is still in the grip of barbarism and ignorance. There is no place for atheists or liberal bloggers here.

Also read- Blogger deaths: what's really going on in Bangladesh

Progressive thought in any form is equated with atheists and infidels. Worse still, the proponents of this second school of thought consider killing these people an act of foremost piety.

What is the way to transform these people?

I started writing 30 years ago for precisely this reason. But today, I find that the society is becoming more and more uncouth.

There is very little that is in my hands. Had other writers and thinkers expressed their views fearlessly, and politicians made concerted efforts against bigotry, Bangladesh would have been transformed.

Hasina does not want to give the impression of having any links with the liberals, for the fear of losing the hardliners' vote bank

The country attained independence long time ago. What were the ideals at that time and where do we stand today?

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh and her son sermonise through modern means of communication on a daily basis. But nothing has ever been said in support of atheists or open-minded people. After all, they too are equal citizens of the country.

Who does the government bat for, if not for the liberals? The answer is simple - it sides with the fundamentalists.

The dirty A-word

I wonder why 'atheism' is considered such a dirty word. Nobody wants to have anything to do with an atheist. The government, which is supposed to treat citizens belonging to all religions, castes, genders and languages equally, is the same government that is found to be discriminatory.

The ruling dispensation barely supports liberals. They are brutally murdered with impunity and the government offers a stony silence. It does not even break its silence to point out the injustice of the act, forget about punishing the culprits.

I started writing 30 years ago for precisely this reason. But today, I find that the society is becoming more and more uncouth

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has always spoken in favour of the perpetrators, despite the recent spate of murders of secular bloggers. This is appalling.

Hasina does not want to give the impression of having any links with the liberals, for the fear of losing the hardliners' vote bank.

Conflict of Bangladesh and democracy

Bangladesh is not a real democracy, for a true democratic nation does not have a religion. And Bangladesh has one.

Atheists will be castigated as long as fanaticism is present. Bangladesh cannot be called a true democratic nation till this is expunged from the country.

The word 'atheist' is nothing less than an abuse in Bangladesh. Liberal thinking is akin to obscenity. Such is the misfortune of the country that even scientists and rationalists are frowned upon.

The battle between science and religion is not new, but science has always prevailed because it stands for truth.

The kind of talented and fearless youth who are being targeted today are exactly the ones Bangladesh needs today. Such youth are imperative in order to make Bangladesh a strong and progressive nation.

We need many more youngsters like Abhijit, Anantar, Rajeev and Vasikur. There is no other way forward.

I have heard the Prime Minister's son Sajeeb Ahmed Wajed 'Joy' has refrained from condemning the blogger killings, and said the issues are too sensitive for his mother to speak up in public. This is nothing short of helping the fanatics.

Liberals are brutally murdered with impunity; the govt does not even point out the injustice of the act, forget about punishing the culprits

Joy is only augmenting the ideology of the Awami League, his mother's political party. The party, which claims to be a secular party, had in fact, taken out a procession in support of these murders along with Muslim fundamentalists.

The way things are in Bangladesh today, there hardly seems any difference between the Awami League, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami.

No hope left

I sometimes feel there is no hope left for this country. All political parties are bent upon turning it into a hardline Islamic purgatory. The common man is silently resigning to this predicament.

Few people seem concerned about the situation and most are happy to see it turn into 'Darul Islam'. The ones who believe in science, humanity and a religion-free world, those who raise their voice against injustice, are being silenced.

There was a time when Bangladesh was infamous for its perennial floods. Now the whole world views it as a nation where secularists are murdered every month. The former was a natural disaster but the latter is a human deed. This new identity of Bangladesh is far more horrific.

The roads of Bangladesh would continue to soak in the blood of its talented youth, unless we force our leaders to stop politics in the name of religion.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman once led this nation away from the clutches of the Pakistani army, because it had made life unbearable for the intelligentsia.

Today, his daughter is in cahoots with the same forces. Mujib rose to glory by battling the same forces which Hasina is using for her own interests.

I am not ashamed. It is just that I feel scared for this country.

First published: 13 August 2015, 11:18 IST
 
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