Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Bangladesh: A Land of Communal Harmony?


In Bangladesh most political party leaders love to say that ‘Bangladesh is a land of communal harmony’! Although knowingly they lie, they do that for the sake of camouflaging their deep rooted communalism. Bangladesh has no communal harmony, it is an Islamic society, non-Muslims are persecuted routinely. Can anyone find a country with ‘Islam’ as a state religion, where non-Muslims are flourishing? Bangladesh is no exception!

Bangladesh is a communal country! The government appease the Islamists, Islamic institutions, and help them grow. It’s people love to say, we are 90% of the total population, so Bangladesh must be a Muslim country, ‘Hindus go to India’. Note that, Bangladesh is a People’s Republic! Government machinery including ministers tell people how they are serving the religion of Islam. At this time the government is building 560 modern mosques and Islamic centers, but not a single temple or church or pagoda! The Prime Minister from time to time reminds people that the country will be run by Medina Charter or the Constitution of Medina!

Let me give an example of religious harmony. Bangladesh fiscal year 2021-22 budget allotted for Religious Affairs Ministry Taka 15,054.03 crore (roughly $1771 million) under the ADP (annual development project), of which Taka 290.08 crore (roughly $34 million) was allocated for projects related to religious minorities. Religious minorities’ share of the religious affairs ministry’s total budget is only 1.93% and the rest goes to Islamic development.

Bangladesh has a national mosque, but no national temple or pagoda or church. You will not find an established temple in Bangladesh, which was not attacked or harmed or its deities were not destroyed in last half a century! Deity destruction is a common phenomenon there and until now, no one has been prosecuted or punished. Is deity destruction possible without a religious vendetta?

The minority population is dwindling every day and they are forced to quit the country. Islam is the state religion and that makes non-Muslims a second class citizen. Hindus sacrifice for the liberation of the land was sky high, but they are deprived in every sector of the nation. It is hard to find a Hindu ambassador in foreign service, a high ranking military officer in the Army!

Every Hindu family was affected in 1971, but as if that was not enough, in the new born Bangladesh Enemy Property Act renamed to Vested Property Act by which close to 3 million acres of Hindu lands were taken from Hindus and given to Muslims. Eight hundred years old Hindu temple ‘The Ramna Kali Bari’ was not returned to the Hindus after Liberation. Discrimination is so rampant that you will not find a single Hindu who haven’t heard the word ‘Malaun’, a religious slur means ‘cursed’! There are complaints that even some ministers and judges utter that word!

Islamic Foundation, a government entity has 100% Muslim employees! There are no Hindu, Buddhist, or Christian Foundation. There is ‘Hindu Trust’ whose Chairman is a Muslim! Religious harmony is such a fantastic phenomenon in Bangladesh that the Bengali Hindus greatest festival ‘Durga Puja’ celebration is possible only with the Police protection, otherwise who knows what would happen to the Hindus!

Bangladesh is one of the two major countries that are isolated from the Middle East and North Africa but has Islam as state religion, the other being Malaysia. None of the two are Islamic Republics. Bangladesh is a Peoples’ Republic while Malaysia is a federation of Malay sultanates. In Malaysia, the Malay identity is unofficially defined in terms of Malay language, Malay monarchy and Islam. Malaysia has an official Bumiputera policy which discriminates against the native non-Muslim Chinese and Indian communities. Bangladesh is not much different. The Bangladeshi identity is unofficially defined in terms of Bengali language and Islam. The discrimination against non-Muslims is all the same.

Malaysia has been criticized internationally for its discrimination of the minorities and Malaysia is not recognized as a country of communal harmony. For how can, communal harmony exist if certain groups are given preferential treatment at the cost of the others. If the same is happening in Bangladesh, though under unofficial policies, then Bangladesh too should face the same criticism from the international community. Irrespective of when Bangladesh faces the question, it is for certain that Bangladesh is not a land of communal harmony.