January 30, 2005


Elisa Griswold's article in the New York Times about the possiblity of Bangladesh giving birth to "The Next Islamic Revolution?" has sparked many controversies in Bangladesh. The government predictably refuted the claims and named it "one sided, baseless and politically motivated". The report tells about the notorious Bangla Bhai, a Taliban trained extremist who fought the Afghanistan wars. He has about 10,000 (and increasing) followers and is said to be protected by two of the ruling BNP lawmakers. The police could not arrest him in a couple of years even after the direct orders of the prime minister to bring him to justice. This is widely chewed in local media before being picked up by the New York Times. Imtiaz has more information on Bangla Bhai and his goons. So it is silly that the government would try to bury the problem and try to deny everything.

The report has been widely promulgated in the blogosphere over at Niraj, Little Green Footballs and Winds of Change.

These does not do Bangldesh's images any better. Whereas there could be more intellectual response to this like Rajib did:

There are some prosaic reasons for Bangladesh not becoming an Islamic maelstrom in the coming years:

1. It is too poor.
2. It is too inward looking geopolitically.
3. It is too outward looking economically.
4. It has large religious minorities.
5. There is a tension, a dichotomy, between Bengaliness and Muslimness, so that the neither can totally come out victorious. A fundamentalist Bangladesh would have to repudiate Tagore...

Sabbir A. Bashar writes in the Daily Star:

It is a wake up call. It is time to change our national attitude and first accept that we have problems and then to face them head on. It is time to come clean and present our side of the story in all its troubling reality to the world instead of getting consumed by past glories and being touchy about every criticism.

I also do believe that Islamic extremism could not be a threat in Bangladesh if the government did not protect the extremists. Presumably they are trying to use them to tackle the left leaned opposition and they may well grow stronger and hit them back like a snake.

I see three reasons why Bangladesh is being dragged to this position:

1)The major political parties are trying to clinch to power for eternity and destroying the rivals systematically
2)They are using Islamic extremists for the above goals who have an agenda of their own
3)Involvement of foreign quarters (e.g. arms smuggling and intelligence activities)who are using Bangladesh as a pawn in the conflicts in the neighborhood.

And all parties should try to sit in a table to tackle this situation. And government can turn around the clock by arresting Bangla Bhai. This is not a time to waste people's tax money in criticizing and back biting political rivals.

Update: Another report has been published in the Frontpagemagagine.com called "Is Bangladesh the next Afghanistan?". Excerpt from that article:

The country sits precariously poised between a future without hope and anarchy, while politicians of all parties regularly call for general strikes to force their demands knowing fully well how destructive such irresponsible politics is for an impoverished economy.


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