‘Successive governments have compromised with communal sentiments’

Haider Akbar Khan Rano, a member of the Communist Party of Bangladesh presidium, talking to Moloy Saha in an interview with New Age, urged waging a united movement to curb religious militant forces

Haider Akbar Khan Rano

Haider Akbar Khan Rano

New Age: Politics of religious extremism has apparently taken a violent form in Bangladesh. Why?
Haider Akbar Khan Rano: The ruling political parties have failed to fulfil the aspirations of the common people in our country and they also failed to implement the aspirations and spirit of the war of independence of 1971 completely.
The nationalist parties Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party are responsible for the failures, and the left parties could have come forward to work for the betterment of the common people but they also failed to do so for lacking in political strength.
These are the prime causes for religious extremism taking a violent form in our country.
International, as well as national factors, is also responsible for religious extremism taking a violent form in our country although our soil was never favourable to militant forces.
Our people rejected any religious militancy in the past — during the language movement of 1952 and during the war of independence of 1971.

New Age: Contrary to hitherto middle class intellectual conviction that madrassahs are the breeding ground of ‘jihadis’, the violent operations by jihadis at Gulshan restaurant in July points out the fact that non-madrassah youths have embraced politics of religious extremism. Why?
Haider Akbar Khan Rano: We have failed to create so far a non-communal democratic country, which was the pledge of the war of independence, by keeping Islam as a state religion.
Moreover, democratically-oriented student politics is absent in the educational institutions as Chhatra Sangsads do not function for a long time.
Externally, the imperialist American government has played a dual role by spreading religious extremism in the world, especially in the Muslim countries. They formed the Taliban, al-Qaeda and at the same time carried out propaganda against Islam, terming it a fascist religion.
The US government had formed the Islamic State for taking control of the Muslims countries in the Middle East. They are motivating the students and the youth to join IS while at the same time spreading hatred against the IS.
Now the English medium students are joining hands with the jihadis out of their frustration, as the state did not provide them with better employment after the end of their education.
However, a few students from Madrassahs and other educational institutes are also involved with such militant activities.

New Age: Do you think that certain particular kinds of socio-political and economic factors play any role behind the youths of the society to get attracted to politics of extremism-religious or otherwise? If so, what are the factors?
Haider Akbar Khan Rano: In our society anti-Indian, anti-Hindu or anti-religious minorities and anti-women sentiments are prevalent.
Those are symptoms of a backward society and successive governments have compromised with such sentiments to have political control.
The government is taking action against the extremists using its law enforcers only, which cannot be successful to end militant forces forever as that required collective and concerted measures — politically, ideologically and culturally.

New Age: What is the way
out?
Haider Akbar Khan Rano: The government should take a step to unite all sections of people of the country to curb extremist forces. All political parties should stop the ‘blame game’ on the issue of extremism.
The government is also trying to use the issue to remain in power and they should drop Islam as state religion from the constitution.
Taking united political, ideological and cultural steps against the extremist forces is the way out. The resumption of student politics at all educational institutions is another important step.

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