Secular Polity to Islamic Hegemony of the Nationalists Chauvinist



Photo: Selling Religion/Bri Vos.

[Saleem Samad, Canada.]

This article exposes the mindset of the majoritarian Bangalee Muslim nationalist population in Bangladesh. To consolidate the power base, the political parties, politicians and military dictators, have always used religion as a tool.

It is evident from the series of amendment of the Constitution from a secular to Islamic trend portrays the hegemony of the majoritarian, the Islamic nationalist chauvinist of course, over the marginalized communities.

It is indeed a losing battle of the proactive secularists entailed with the civil society and the human rights organizations. Possibly due to their inability to forge a common platform, as some political scientist would explain. Let it be informed that the civil society is divided in thin lines and sometimes partisan, thus failed to make any dent in the fragmented society.

The only hope is the strong civil society among the rural population, specially the peasant society, particularly — women, who are apparently modest in practicing religion and discreetly turned down Sharia laws championed by rural elites.

After the end of military hegemony in state politics in 1991 (which of course is another debate, whether military has at all remained out of polity), the consecutive elections to parliament, municipalities/City Corporations and Union Parishad have anchored confidence in the electoral system of the voter

2 Responses to “Secular Polity to Islamic Hegemony of the Nationalists Chauvinist”

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    M Biswas

    It is an in-depth analysis that uses references from history and original scholarly research works. The problem of today’s politics in Bangladesh is not created in a day. Unfortunately, politicians belong to “secular or liberal” front of the country compromised with the practice of the use of religion in politics. I believe literacy rate and level of education and absence of party commitment and also the absence of political consensus were the factors that could not make secularists or liberals in Bangladesh stick to their political stance on secularism. If Bangladesh’s military and other political parties, whatever their strength was, had same kind of policy like the Awami League of 1972 then I believe secularists could have stuck to their stance.

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    Iconus Clustus

    Very well thought out and nicely composed article – thanks a million sir for giving us a fresh outlook toward a topic that seeks nothing less than an introduction to oneself – a true ontorjatra – an essential analysis that a nation cannot afford to forgo at any price.

    Having said that, I would like to throw in a point or two just to liven up the conversation: I feel 71-72 has been an aberration bordering on a pre-mature birth.

    If we look back into our history, what we see is an account of exchange of ideologies that flowed quite logically, of course with the given impetus, whatever they might have been at the time, i.e. business (East India Company), religio-business (Partition of Bengal), religion (1947), Secularism (1971), and re-enactment of the recent past (since liberation till this day). In this string of events, 71 seems like an aberration. A blip. A cacophonic note. A miscalculated inevitability (whatever that means… 🙂 ).

    Some of us had the stance erected without knowing its full implication. We weren’t sure of what we were asking for – this is especially true of not having the patience, ability, vision, and depth to be able to contextualize the movement in the wider arrangement of things known as Pakistan, though tutored by the you-know-who. I say this not because I do not agree with the basic premises of what we as a nation stood against Pakistan with (the four principles that made the heart of “bahatturer shonbidhan”). Instead, I say this because of what followed.

    Rock solid ideological underpinnings with tested activism among the populace – if that is what it had, then why would it cave into extra-national pressure that easily (that being only within a span of few years). There is no confusion in mind that the father of the nation compromised and that too with the very basic principles the newborn nation stood on! Communist nidhon is another case in point that spelled out similar grounds of compromise and nothing else, though there were more ideological similarities than divergence between the founding principles and the principles of a socialist republic.

    On hindsight, it seems to me that the grounds weren’t prepared, the fruits weren’t ripe, but we went ahead and ate it anyway.

    The bottom line for now… we are still traversing the roads to shammo… we are going any which way we can, without a solid sense of direction. Consequently, making it easy and paving the way for the rightist-religionists and capitalist cronies of the West and their local collaborators.

    Thanks again for an incisive piece Mr. Saleem Samad. Hopefully you will continue writing and gradually move towards crystallizing the concepts and instilling them into our individual psychies. We need more and more Dauds, Nirmolendus, Mujibs (the one we loved, not what it became of him), Tajuddins, … we need newer formulations as well… people those who can eloquently make sense of secularism and still be a friend of all regions, be non-violent though make points that are harder to resist than made through any number of guns and bullets… I believe we have the potential to be not only good for ourselves, but a notun digonter dishari for the rest of the oppressed world alike.

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