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Shahbag: The End of the Bangladeshi Tolerance


Written By: BUETian
16/03/2013 6:27 16/03/2013 6:26
Bangladesh

Many words have been written about the recent Shahbag movement. I am sure we need not go much into details about it. In short, Its a movement by "the people" to hang, the leaders of the largest Islamic party of Bangladesh, Jamat-e-Islami. Thousands of people have come out into the streets, "demanding" a list of demands, which have included at various times:

* Banning Jamat-E-Islami and its student wing Chatro Shibir (why they left out their female student wing Chatri Songstha I do not know)

* Confiscation of all of the business assets of Jamat members and supporters, and to distribute it to the "Freedom Fighters"

* Banning of all Islamic parties and organizations.

* HANGING, yes, HANGING, not trial or punishment, of all the leaders of Jamat, regardless of what the Awami court says or does.

In other words, a typical fascist movement out of the 1930's. As soon as their endless demands started, Islami Bank ATM booths and brances were vandalized and destroyed, the offices of the Naya Diganto newspaper were attacked, again, typical of the standard 1930's fascism.

Now, all of this is known and much commented upon. However, I would like to point out the implications for Bangladesh and the Bangladeshi people, of this cursed movement and why I think it could be the end of Bangladeshi society as we know it.

Now, fascist movements can arise in a poor and uneducated and uncivilized country like Bangladesh. It is not something totally unimaginable. However, we expect the educated classes to point out the faults of various fascist movements and condemn and distance themselves from the fascists and to take action against them. However, the liberal-secularist elites of Bangladesh threw themselves fully in favour of the Shahbag fascists. Newspapers which like to call themselves as "Progressive", among them the Daily Star and Prothom Alo, among others, fully supported a fascist movement calling for the extra judicial murder of a group of political opponents. It was given legitimacy by the group of upper class secularists who like to call themselves the "civil society". They supported a clearly flawed trial process just because it had the distant possibility of hanging their political (and religious) opponents. All of the NGO's and their heads, Sultana Kamal Bhattacharja, the head of a feminist organization, the head of Transparency International whose name I can't remember, Jafar Iqbal, among others, all supported this kangaroo court.

A small flaw soon emerged in the Shahbag fascist movement which turned into a lethal stab, which was the murder of a certain "Thaba Baba", an active Islamophobic activist who was one of the organizers of the Shahbag fascist movement. His writings were published by Mahmudur Rahman of the Amar Desh. It then emerged that the Shahbag fascist movement was entirely orchestrated and led by the Islamophobic circle of activists of Bangladesh. This set off another movement, another fascist movement, this time to hang the Islamophobic bloggers (without trial). As usual the Awami government exhibited its Awaminess by ensuring personal bodyguards for all of the Islamophobic bloggers who had insulted the Prophet (saaw), his wife (as) and others, rather than rebuking or condemning them. Predictably this has led to the counter-Shahbag movement to snowball and turn into a country wide movement to hang the bloggers.

Therein lies the problem, the massive problem that Bangladesh will have to face in the future. The Shahbag fascist movement and its legitimization by ALL of the members of the "civil society", not to mention the media has now made it an accepted form of protest for a group of people to gather together and demand various things, extrajudicial hangings, attacking of the "other"'s property, spewing of hate 24/7 against their opponents.

Now due to the massive failure of the Awami League government in running the country and its alienation of the people due to its ultra-friendliness towards Islamophobic agents an election victory by the BNP-Jamat alliance is all but assured. But what will happen after the victory? Will the 200 people murdered by the Awami police be forgotten? Will the Islamophobic bloggers be erased from the memory of the people of Bangladesh? I do not think so! The Islamist movement for extrajudicial hanging of the bloggers will continue, the BNP will be in no mood to confront them, extra demands will be made by the Islamists to hang the police and their commanders who killed the people.

And now what will the media and civil society do? They can hardly condemn the new, Islamist movement because they were 100% in favour of the same movement when it was led by Islamophobes. Their feeble protests will have no effect. The Islamist movement will have learnt from Shahbag and will not rest until all of their arbitrary and unlimited demands are met by the new government. We, the people of Bangladesh, will soon have to live with arbitrary and harsh blasphemy laws, among many other unpredictable laws. Just like how Imran H Sarkar has become an alternative dictator issuing arrest commands from his palace, there will be many other, bearded, capped Imran H Sarkers, demanding the death and hanging of various people for various crimes. The atmosphere will be one of hatred, mistrust and fear. Non-Muslims will be on the recieving end and their own businesses and homes will be open to attack, just like how Islami Bank branches are being attacked today, in many cases by Hindu workers of Chatro League.

Bangladesh as we know it will be over, replaced by a much angrier, much more intolerant, much more divided society. The society has already become a divided society thanks to the Awami League's pitting of Muslims against the "Spirit of 71". And we will never be able to go back to our old position as a country where different cultures live in mutual understanding.


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