The 27 male Bangladeshi workers were arrested from Singapore under the Internal Security Act (ISA) late last year. They are all working in the construction industry in Singapore. They are accused of planning to conduct extremist activities in Singapore, including their own country. On 20 January, declared from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), they were arrested under ISA between 16 November and 1 December, 2015. Most of them had worked in Singapore for between two and seven years. This number of Bangladeshi arrest is the first stage of arrest. Similarly, another 8 Bangladeshi men working in Singapore who was planning to stage terror attacks back home have been detained under ISA. This is announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 3 May this year. The men, aged between 26 and 34, are accused of involving a terror cell of foreign workers. The latest case is so dangerous, because they are arrested with some book cover pages of the bomb-making instruction manual. The Bengali text at the top rights of the bomb-making manual reads “How to make explosives through action and reaction?’.
But, question is here, why has Bangladeshi are targeted as extremist threat? Because of extremist challenge to Bangladesh are rising day by day. Bangladesh is a constitutionally secular country although about 90 percent of the population is Muslim. On the other hand, the expansion of own declared Islamic state (ISIS) as foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. After started their activities in 2014, they gradually radiation from one country to another country. Already ISIS “intends” to announce “an affiliate” in Bangladesh and made a local leader. Although the Bangladesh government repeatedly denies the presence of the IS or Al-Qaida in the country.
Extremist Challenge of Bangladesh:
Bangladesh, formerly named East Pakistan, carried victory from Pakistan in a bloody war in 1971. This country is a Muslim majority country. Hence, the native Bengali culture of the country and the customs and practices of other creeds such as Hinduism, Christianity and, of course, Islam have traditionally enjoyed public and official protection.
Since 1972, the military governments that have intervened in the often unstable democratic political process at various times in the country’s history politicized Islam in order to burnish their legitimacy against the backdrop of growing Islamic revivalism in the late 1970s and 1980s. These military regimes dropped the secularism principle from the Constitution in 1977 and declared Islam the state religion in 1988. Military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad declared Islam the state religion in attempt to seek mass support during a campaign by major political parties to oust him from power. While the Bangladeshi Supreme Court reasserted the constitutional secular principle in 2010, Islam remains the state religion. At recent time, on the question of ‘Islam as state religion’ has emerged in Bangladesh. In 1988, a group of 15 secular activists filed a petition arguing that recognition of Islam as the state religion conflicts with Bangladesh’s secular charter and discriminates against religious minorities.
Although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina re-introduced secularism as the political standard in the country in 2011, she let Islam remain the state religion. But the rejection by Bangladesh’s High Court of a 28-year-old petition on 28 March, 2016 in which some secular activists sought to scrap Islam as the state religion of the country has sparked mixed reactions in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation. Bangladeshi society had already been in the throes of a culture war between secular, liberal civil society on the one hand and increasingly hard-line extremists on the other.
As early as August 2005, one home-grown Islamist group, Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), had gained national notoriety for setting off hundreds of bombs around the country, although the death count was thankfully low. JMB has since been banned. There have been a number of other home-grown extremist groups like Hizbuttahrir, Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), Ansar al-Islam group that have been banned as well, but nevertheless still appear to operate under the radar.
At recent time, Bangladesh has faces many blogger, left-wing writer, Professors are hacked to death. And after the occurrence happened IS has claimed these death. Mainly, Christian missionaries, Hindu figures, Shi’ites and foreigners have been identified as potential targets. At recently, the murder on April 23 of English Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique, who was hacked to death at a bus stop in north-west Bangladesh, was also claimed by ISIS.
This was the first ISIS-claimed attack since the latest Dabiq issue appeared. Particularly telling is that Prof Siddique was apparently a defender of Bengali music, poetry and literature. He did not have a history of making anti-Muslim comments, yet he was targeted for his “call to atheism”, according to ISIS sources.
At most recent a Bangladeshi gay rights activist Julhas Mannan and his friend Tanay Majumder were hacked to death 25 April in what the police believe is the latest in a series of targeted killings by Islamist militants. Ansar al-Islam, the Bangladeshi division of al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, has claimed responsibility for the killings of two LGBT-rights activists next day. Mr. Mannan, who also edited Bangladesh’s only gay and transgender magazine, Roopbaan, had received “very vicious, murderous threats” from anonymous people.
Why Bangladesh is main Targeted?
At recently, many Bangladeshi foreign workers are faced hazardous blame involving with terror act. Bangladesh foreign workers are most hard working, patience and pious. In born, they are culturally respected on religion. In recent time, many international terror organization form on the behalf of Islamic rules, but they violate Islam and Islamic culture. In the name of Islam, they perform any act against Islam. Syria and Iraq oriented Islamic State (IS) is one of them launched in 2014. Al-Qaeda is the rival of IS. They are involved in recruiting members from other country. Muslim majority Bangladeshi innocent workers are easily targeted by them.
Already, Al-Qaeda has established the Indian Subcontinent affiliate as a new venture to radicalize that region’s huge Muslim population. One country that is very much part of this new strategic plan, not only for its own Muslim population but also because of its strategic location, abetting geographically on eastern India and Myanmar – and by implication, South-east Asia – is Bangladesh.
To be sure, like the earlier group, the Islamic State Bangladesh (ISB) cell had apparently no plans to attack Singapore, but had their sights focused on Bangladesh instead, according to Singapore officials. Similarly, they announced the ISB cell in particular had found that it was impossible to join ISIS in Syria, but had instead made contingencies to attack Bangladeshi government and military officials, “media peoples” and “disbelievers” with a view to toppling the current government in Dhaka and turning Bangladesh into a satellite of the so-called ISIS caliphate.
In these demands from Singapore Officials has contradictory view of sense. They wanted to prove that Singapore is not related in IS on the sorts of ISB cell or others affiliates of another country in the land of Singapore. Otherwise, ISB cell is form on the view of IS activities, but not directly related. Similarly, Singapore Officials easily indicates Bangladeshi workers in foreign country are planning to terror attack in Dhaka. It’s blame not other like that. It’s also a big conspiracy by our rival to spoil our reputation in abroad as foreign workers.
Singapore as work place for Bangladesh:
After Oman and Qatar, Singapore is a third most destination for Bangladeshi workers. According to Labor migration from Bangladesh 2014 report, some interesting statistics are provided. Singapore was the second most popular destination country in 2014, with 54,750 work migrants (0.2% only female) here, or 14.02% of the total who left Bangladesh for works in that year. The report notes that unfortunately, there are no statistics of returnees. Oman is the first destination for Bangladeshi workers, about 105, 748 workers work here and about 87,575 workers in Qatar. Most of workers in Singapore are construction workers.
Singapore does not publish any breakdown of Work Permit holders by nationality but this report estimates that about one in three of the nearly 400,000 non-domestic Work Permit holders from non-traditional sources are from Bangladesh. That’s about 130,000 Bangladeshis. If 60,000 are coming per year, this in turn suggests that the average length of stay of a worker is only two years — a high rate of churn.
Elsewhere in Labour migration from Bangladesh 2014 report it is also shown that Singapore ranked eighth out of sixteen countries in terms of remittances by value. Saudi Arabia was the top source of remittances, followed by the UAE. No specific figure was given for Singapore, but a bar chart indicates that Singapore contributed only about 3.5% of US$13.83 billion in total remittances in 2014. That works out to about US$484 million, or about S$644 million at exchange rates prevailing end 2014.
The divergence between 14.02% of persons choosing to come to Singapore and only 3.5% of remittances coming from Singapore hints at two possible explanations:
1. Bangladeshi workers in other countries stay much longer on average; their numbers there are much larger than annual movements. To put it in another way, churn is particularly bad in Singapore.
2. Bangladeshi workers in Singapore are relatively poorly-paid, or have much less money (after local expenses) to send back home.
Is needed Zero Tolerance for Bangladesh?
The recent arrests of Bangladeshi foreign workers in Singapore demonstrate that the extremist Islamist challenge within Bangladesh is beginning to affect regional neighbors’. According to many experts that Dhaka needs to exercise zero tolerance toward the threat. Already, Bangladesh is pursuing a zero tolerance policy in combating terrorism and extremism. Cooperation among citizens’ groups, religious leaders, local government representatives and the media was critically important in tackling terrorism.
There is a struggle going on for the cultural ethos of constitutionally secular, Muslim-majority Bangladesh. But it would be real that Bangladeshi people are honored by Islamic rules and regulation. Islam is an only religion for the protecting rights of all religious people in the world prescribed by Hazrat Muhammad (SM). On that light,
However, it is imperative for Dhaka to openly confront the real nature of the threat and take strong measures, in consultation and coordination with its international partners, to crack down decisively on home-grown and transnational extremist groups. Failure to do so would only permit the latter’s creeping erosion of the traditional, progressive Bengali Muslim soul of the country to continue. Singapore as third destination for Bangladeshi workers, it should be dialogue and collaborate even further between Dhaka and Singapore city.
The writer is Journalist and international affairs analyst.