Economic Times - July 4, 2016
Bangladesh has degenerated into an Islamic fundamentalist country and government is responsible for it
By Tasleema Nasreen
On Friday morning, I got the news that a terrorist organisation called Ansarul Khilafa from Kerala owing allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) had issued a death threat against me on its Facebook page. By the evening, I got the news of the attack by Islamic terrorists in a Dhaka cafe. I was worried for my life for a while. But then, my concerns turned to the lives of the hostages at the Holey Artisan Bakery.
Bangladesh has already become an Islamic fundamentalist nation. Atheists, secularists, rationalists, bloggers, professors, students, homosexuals, Shias, Ahmadiyas, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians are being hacked to death by Islamic terrorists. They kill without fear because the government hardly takes any action against the perpetrators.
Guilty Until Proven Guilty
Instead, victims get threatened by the government. The latter accuses freethinkers of hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims. This is an overt endorsement of the danse macabre conducted on a regular basis by Islamic obscurantists.
Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006 — that allows the arrest without a warrant of any person who “deliberately publishes any material in electronic form that causes to deteriorate law and order, prejudice the image of the state or person or causes to hurt religious belief” — was introduced for one simple purpose: to gag freedom of expression.
Many bloggers left Bangladesh out of fear. Many stopped expressing their views. No critical analysis of Islam or even Islamic fundamentalism is possible in Bangladesh any more.
The terrorists at the Dhaka café were 20-25 years old. They were not poor, not illiterate. Heavily indoctrinated in Islam, they shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ while slaughtering people. Those who could recite a Koranic verse were spared. The others were tortured and hacked to death with machetes.
Rote to nowhere
Those terrorists have nothing but religion. They behaved well with hostages in hijab and hacked non-hijabis — including two Bangladeshi Muslim women, Ishrat Akhand and Abinta Kabir — to death. Faraz Hussain, a Bangladesh-born US citizen, was also among the dead. Tarushi Jain, a 19-year-old University of California student from India, was hacked to death.
Twenty-eight people were killed, among them 20 were foreigners. Young men have been brainwashed with Islam at home, madrasas and mosques. They have been fed the belief that non-believers, non-Muslims and critics of Islam should be exterminated.
By killing them, they are successfully taught, they will go to heaven. They have also been taught that ‘jihad’ is mandatory for every Muslim and Muslims should turn Darul Harb (the Land of the Enemy) into Darul Islam (the Land of Islam).
There is no point trying to confuse the issue by saying that poverty, frustration, lack of jobs and the absence of hope force people to become terrorists.
It is the other way around. We are often seeing rich and literate, highly qualified professionals becoming terrorists. They join the IS because they know they will be at liberty to do whatever they wish to do, sanctioned to rape and kill and torture.
Many organisations and institutions in Bangladesh have been funded by Islamic fundamentalists from rich Arab countries for decades. Already, madrasas and mosques are breeding grounds for Islamic fundamentalists.
Islamisation in Bangladesh started not long after its creation in 1971. It is tragic that Bangladesh, whose very birth was based on secularism and the rejection of the ‘two-nation’ theory, has degenerated into an Islamic fundamentalist country. And the government is to blame for its wilful failure to contain fundamentalism.
My Way or Fly Away
In the early 1990s, when I was attacked by Islamic fundamentalists, a fatwa was issued against me, a price set on my head, hundreds of thousands of Muslim fundamentalists took to the street demanding my execution, the intellectuals remained silent. Instead of
cracking down on the fundamentalists, the government filed a case against me on the charges of hurting the religious feelings of people.
I was forced to leave the country. That was the beginning of what today’s Bangladesh is: full of religionists, fundamentalists, hijabis, burqawalis, an atavistic medieval country.
Without allowing the criticism of Islam, it will be difficult for Muslim countries to separate the state and religion, to make personal laws based on equality, to have a secular education. And if this does not happen, Muslim countries will remain in darkness forever, breeding people indoctrinated by religion to not tolerate any differences, and where women will never enjoy the right to live as complete human beings.
People like to believe that Islam is a religion of peace. I, however, have witnessed the opposite since my childhood.
The time has come for people to tell the truth and listen to it without equivocating: Islam and Islamic fundamentalism don’t have so many differences. Islam isn’t compatible with democracy, human rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression.
You will not be able to kill terrorism by killing terrorists. You have to kill its root cause. You have to stop brainwashing children with religion.
It is every sane person’s duty to make insane people sane.
But in the present scenario, the voice of sanity is a cry in wilderness. This has to be changed. Good and sensible people must speak up. Because the silence of the good is the strength of the bad.
The writer is a Bangladeshi author who lives in exile in India