Late on Friday evening, 1st July, the regular chattering, discussions and conversations of Holey Artisan Bakery Café were all silenced by multiple gun shots. In a place where freedom of thoughts reigned for people from all over the world, the freedom to live was put at stake. The attack in the café in Dhaka has left 28 people dead, including six gunmen.
An upmarket eating joint for foreigners, social elites and expatriates in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone Gulshan, it was attacked by none other than the “Allah-hu Akbar” chanting Islamist militants who claim themselves to be ‘Jihadi sympathizers’, and has left not just Bangladesh, but the entire world shaken and scared.
Bangladesh was founded on the principle of secularism, despite its Muslim-majority population, and the multitude of cultures and faiths within its borders have coexisted since long. The rise of extremism and militants that is apparently ‘home-grown’, rather than funded by Al- Qaeda or ISIS, shatters the very ground on which Bangladesh has substantiated itself.
Over the past three years, the country has seen at least 40 targeted killings by militants, with each new attack raising fears about the growing clout of radicalised groups. The latest represents a marked escalation. Of late, gay rights activists, Hindu priests, secular bloggers and Shia mosques have all come under attack. Undeniably, the country has been losing its grip on secularism and letting the militants slip from their control.
What sets this incident apart is the sheer scale of the violence. With time, blades have replaced guns, and single targets have been replaced by an entire building of casualties; that’s progressivism in the times of terror. Educated and people from elite class gave way to this incident, thus, refuting the stereotypical belief that such ideologies and perception are inflicted upon those with little or no means at all.
The Bangladeshi government under the wings of Sheikh Hasina has refuted the involvement of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, contrary to everyone’s perception, and has put the blame on Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen- the regional terror wing in Bangladesh.
Moving on from the cultivator of the attack, the wave of extremism and intolerance gripping the country is to be paid attention to. Instead of playing the blame-game and politicising the event, it is important to curb the wave that is all set to bring forth mass killings- all in the name of ‘Allah’. There is an utmost need for government to track the radicalised groups which have increased with time due to neglect and denial.
Bangladesh has been inching towards a dangerous steep for a long time, and the latest attack may have given it a bigger push than anyone could have ever imagined.
After having failed to recite verses from Koran, the jihadis massacred people one by one. Such amalgamation of extremism with intolerance is a deadly one, sure to engulf many more than imagined. If at nothing, these ‘Allah’ driven operations will further fuel the gap between people from other religions and Muslims, giving way to more communal tensions and exclusion of one community at large. The actions of few, will definitely impact the judgments for all.
For all that we are mourning, and will mourn inevitably, the worst of it would be for the wrong and inhumane interpretation of a religion- a religion that is being used to create havoc and instil fear and hatred, and a religion that is prepared to take over the world. After all, it’s not difficult to conquer something that is already scattered, isn’t it?