‘Successive govts have failed to create a non-communal Bangladesh’

The government should face militancy politically by uniting all the people, the Socialist Party of Bangladesh general secretary, Khalequzzaman, tells Moloy Saha in an interview with New Age



New Age: Politics of religious extremism has apparently taken a violent form in Bangladesh. Why?
Khalequzzaman: In our country, the politics of religious extremism has taken a violent form with the militant attacks at a restaurant at Gulshan in the city, which has created new phenomenon in our politics. It is unfortunate for us as our society does not permit or encourage such use of religion in politics. The failures of successive governments in the country have created scope for religious extremism to evolve.
There are national and international connections behind this as the imperialist forces encourage and patronise such activities while the failure of the ruling government to rule the country properly was the prime cause behind this.
The governments have failed to ensure democratic governance in the country and to form a non-communal democratic Bangladesh, which was the pledge of the war of independence of in 1971.

New Age: Contrary to hitherto middle-class intellectual conviction that madrassahs are the breeding grounds of ‘jihadis’, the violent operation by jihadis at the Gulshan restaurant in July points out the fact that non-madrassah youths have embraced politics of religious extremism. Why?
Khalequzzaman: Earlier, the students of masrassahs were involved out of ignorance but after the Gulshan restaurant attack it has been proved that beside madrassah students, English medium students can be involved with such militant activities.
Here the imperialist countries have a role in such activities. The imperialist countries were encouraging and patronising militant activities in different Muslim countries in the world to check socialism.
Moreover, we have failed to introduce a proper education system for all students and students do not get adequate jobs after completing their education.

New Age: Do you think 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?
Khalequzzaman: Imperialist powers carry out aggression to try to grab oil and national resource reserves, control the economy, arms market and spread investment opportunities, military and political control on geopolitically important places, take their bootlickers to power in underdeveloped countries.
Blind religious quarters do not understand the crisis or a vested quarter does not want the religious groups to understand the truth. This quarter, who does not want religious groups to understand the truth, instead forces the latter into extremism.
The Anglo-American imperialists forces are paying the price for what they have done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Bangladesh.
Weak capitalist groups who have helped criminalise politics by handing over politics to the criminals in order to consolidate their power are now using religion as a vote business, and have made the administration partisan.
The police and the Rapid Action Battalion carry out state-sponsored crimes. Development of a section of people is being trumpeted as national development when monstrous scams are taking place in the economic sector — increasing economic disparity and creating imbalance in society.
These factors have created a self-centred, vengeful attitude among the young, coupled with alienation from society that fuels anxiety, addiction and extremism. The ruling class patronises these for their own benefit and when they become a Frankenstein, the ruling class tries to suppress them with an iron fist. In the process of suppression, the government also takes away people’s rights to carry out democratic movements and protests.
Religious extremism is a part of this multifaceted phenomenon.

New Age: What is the way out?
Khalequezzaman: We must check the international influence in the spreading religious extremist activities in Bangladesh. Moreover, we must establish a non-communal democratic country in line with the promises of the war of independence of 1971. Keeping Islam as state religion, the four fundamentals of the constitution of 1971 cannot be implemented.
The government should take steps to unite all the people to fight against the militant forces.

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