Roots and Causes of Islamophobia Bangladesh Perspective II – Monirul Islam
Bangladesh, the third largest Muslim country in the world in terms of population, is currently undergoing a massive transition from predominantly a liberal Muslim society to a secular society. This process of secularization is therefore not smooth, but aggressive and violent which could be conjectured by different islamophobic incident since last few decades especially after ‘war on terror’ project. Such Islamophobia does exist in the society as a whole in the forms other than that of world common phenomenon.
Islamophobia is one of the most significant forms of intolerance that has manifested itself in the contemporary context. Bangladesh is facing the Islamophobic incident basically from the beginning of twenty first century which has been rapidly augmented since last few years. Secular media, newspapers, so called intellectuals even often state sponsored hatred also disseminated against Islam and Islamic personalities through systematic way.
In Bangladesh, religion, particularly Islam, is a deep rooted social institution. Social norms and other interactions in the country have largely been originated and are guided by Islamic principles. Like Hijab is considered as the sign of religion, respected by the people and rooted in the society. Women wear it as a part of their religious obligation or Taqwa to satisfy Allah.
But seculars would like to mark it as an imported culture from Arabs and reject it as foreign culture. There have been many reports in which the women have been detained, harassed, and expelled from dormitories solely for wearing hijab or carrying Islamic books. Hijab-wearing girls are being subjected to harass in university campus, hall and mostly attacked in social media by secular blogger and writer.
Carrying Islamic books or even holy book Quran and literature are marked as Jihadi book and interlinked with the terrorism, extremism to misinterpret it and marked it as the source of such terrorism and extremism. Practicing basic principles of Islam like performing prayers in university campus even sometimes keeping Islamic books in house also subjected to crime and arrested & detained in Jail by law enforcing agency.
Perceiving and constructing Islam and its symbols as a “political threat” to the local regimes as they are aggressively trying to emasculate Islamic influence in politics. The process of this emasculation often colludes with violent misrepresentation, discursive construction of and labeling with derogative identities. In order to displace Islam and Islamic symbols from the political landscapes of Bangladesh, the ultra-secularists are working “mercilessly and desperately” with a dream of, what is total extermination of Islam from politics.
The ultra-secularists in Bangladesh are often seen to maintain an extreme rebuff and a total antagonism towards a particular religion, which in this case is Islam. They are very vocal against Islamic fundamentalism, but their response to fundamentalism is even more fundamentalist in itself. “They posit themselves against fundamentalism.
The secularizing process of education has been taken by the state and the syllabus of school and madrasah has been overwhelmingly changed since last five years where displaced the history of Islam, biography of Islamic personalities and teaching of morality and replaced secular education and Hinduism. In the question paper, purposefully questionnaire made against Islamic myth and sentiment, so that students were compelled to provide the answer by negating their belief.
The contents of the textbook are excluded from the Bangla book: (1) Class two- excluded the short biography of Prophet PBUH under the title ‘Sobai mile korikaj’. (2) Class three – excluded the short biography of ‘Caliph Hazrat AbuBakar’. (3) Class four – The Caliph Hazrat Omar’s short life character has been omitted. (4) Class five – the short life of the last prophet named ‘BidaiHajj’ has been omitted. In addition to the above, the following points have been added to the new textbook of the school: (1) Class five – A poem titled ‘Book’ written by the self-proclaimed atheist Humayun Azad, which is mainly anti-Muslim poetry.(2) Class six – Entered a poem called ‘Heart of Bangladesh’,Where the Hindu goddess Durga has been praised. Even in Ekhushey Boi Mela, Islamic book stalls has not been permitted unofficially by the Bangla Academy authority which is the totally illegitimate decision and there is common allegation publishing anti-Islamic books in Ekushey Boi Mela every year.
Extremely obscene film ‘’No Dorai’’ was released on November 23 in Muslim Bangladesh which is based on the concept of radical western feminism and its alleged that various scenes in the film exceeded the limit. The main character of this dirty movie is named Ayesha who was the wife of Prophet PBUH. By this the producer attempted to spread the hatred against Islam. Besides this , in the movie ‘Matir Moina’, directed by Tarek Masud ,Presented the Islamic dress like Panjabi and beard holder Muslim as ‘Rajakar’ what is absolutely wrong. The purpose was to misinterpret the Islam and to label the Muslims with the connection to fundamentalism and militancy. The movie ‘Guerrilla‘directed by Nasiruddin Yusup also presented the Islamic dress and symbols with the connection of fundamentalism.
Soloman (PBUH) was the name of a prophet. But secular writer Zafor Iqbal wrote a Book named ‘’the child of ghost Soloman’’ so that he could tactfully defile the Prophet’s name. In Addition, columnist and storyteller Anisul Hoque has written a book called ‘’ Sahi Rajakar nama’’. Such a satirical essay on verse of the Quran is unprecedented in Bengali literature. This book was printed by the publishing company, Sandesh in 2010. The first verse of the first Surah of the Holy Qur’an says: “All praises to Allah who is the Lord of the worlds” Anisul Haque wrote in his ‘Sahi Razakarnama’, ‘all the praises for the Rajakars’
The Daily Prothom Alo made a cartoon named ‘Muhammad Cat’. And then the country’s millions of Muslims and thousands of Muslim scholars have protested the cartoon. Finally the government was compelled to ban the cartoon. Now the government has already banned major religious gatherings in different region of Bangladesh that brings together about a million Muslims.
On the night of 1 July 2016, five militants took hostages and opened fire on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan Thana. The assailants entered the bakery with crude bombs, machetes, pistols, and took several dozen hostages (foreigners and locals). 29 people were killed, including20 hostages (18 foreigners and 2 locals), 2 police officers, 5 gunmen, and 2 bakery staff. Focusing on this issue, one of them liked the page of Dr. Zakir Naik, world famous Islamic Figure spreading Islam to the non-Muslims. Claiming that militant being influenced by the Dr. Zakair Naik attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery. In response, many along with Dr. Zakir Naik claimed that that militant also follow super star that does not mean that he was influenced by that super star but government banned peace TV Bangla and its all activities in Bangladesh. Besides, to wear Islamic Cap (Tupi), Panjabi, keep beard in the street, or in public place, or in any formal program in the urban areas is considered as the sign of so called extremism and terrorism. Even to tell Islamic words like, Sobhanallah, Alhamdullilah, Masallah, to give salam as the greetings are still considered as the sign of terrorism. The secular block, modernists do practice such Islamophobia intentionally/unintentionally and spread it out in the society in the form of modernism. All the forms of Islamophobia what exist in our society is the main cause of religious discrimination against the Muslims who follows Islam in their everyday life. Such Islamophobia has already broken our long practiced norms of loves and live altogether. To raise against such Islamophobia is a must to rebuild our broken society and unite the people to make a society where every person shall be treated as per his own works.
The author is a student of Masters of Department of Sociology at University of Dhaka, Program Intern at United Nations Development Program (UNDP).