Mohammad Ali Sattar
The murder of Abhijit Roy in the vicinity of Dhaka University campus and in the surrounding of the Ekushe book fair is another gruesome slaughter of an individual who harboured a different perception about life and faith.
This violent attack smacks of deep hatred that the assailants carried in their hearts. Unfortunately it had to do with faith, creed, atheism and freedom of expression.
It was a stupefying scene of a bleeding wife staring helplessly, pleading for help from the onlookers and passersby. Each image in the dark evening spoke of the horrifying moments that the lonely soul was passing.
Dr.Humayun Azad was also brought down exactly on the same spot years ago. He was severely injured but survived the assault. He later died a natural death in Germany. Attack on Dr.Azad was supposed to be his stance regarding religion and free ideas that he preferred.
A humanist & a free thinker
Blogger Rajib Haider was killed for his anti-Islam remarks and posts. He was an architect and liberal thinker. He was allegedly involved in posting anti Islam blogs.
Who was Abhijit? He was a teacher at Bangladesh Engineering University (BUET), a writer, blogger and practiced secularism. He lived in America with his wife Bonna. He founded a blog and was making a popular name for him and his views. He had many similar minds writing for his blog.
Reports say he was in the hit list of the anti-blog groups. He has been warned by his friends and relatives to be on the watch and better not visit Bangladesh. But he thought otherwise and came to Dhaka few weeks back and was supposed to depart for USA on March 4. He met a violent death on Feb 26.
Why was he killed? The people who claimed responsibility (Ansarullah bangla) claims that he has been an atheist and writing against Islam. What did he really write or say? What was his definition of religion and Islam?
We learnt that he did not believe in any creed. Coming from a Hindu family he did not cultivate any attraction for his religion as well. He studied science but took interest in subjects outside his academic areas.
He considered himself to be a humanist. He claimed that he stood beside the Palestinians in the face of Israeli genocide; he also spoke for the minorities whenever they were subjected to oppression, he spoke of the methodical development of mind and free expression of faith. He believed in humanism. He is said to be a soft spoken and mild mannered individual.
But the worrying factor is, if he was really a humanist and a free thinker, why would the opposition like to eliminate him? Where did he hurt them? Did he ever write such things that might have gone against Islam or Muslims? Did he subconsciously hurt the sentiment of the followers of Islamic faith? Or he was completely misinterpreted and killed without any reason whatsoever.
Got to get to the root
We need to know which writing of his could have triggered this hatred. In recent days, we have had big issues in France. Charlie Hebdo caused stir in the Islamic world and its whole team of 10 were gunned down inside its office in Paris.
I trust Abhijit did not follow Charlie Hebdo. So why is this dastardly attack on him? We need to get to the root of this particular killing rather than generalizing the whole episode. We shall not be surprised if a Rahim, John or Gopal meet the same fate for their personal thoughts and philosophies.
So we have a situation in place where there are two groups of people who think, say and act in entirely opposite manner. They reside in two distant worlds where their opponents have no place.
The clash of belief that started ever since the dawn of civilization has taken a surreal form.
Clash of opinion, belief and virtues have been the driving or destructive force in all times. Samuel Huntington in his ‘Clash of Civilizations’ says Realism is the contrast of the Idealist conception that society can change on the foundation of an idea.
Some believe that the Clash of Civilizations is a brilliant illustration that exhibits the power of ideas that has not only vastly influenced both foreign policies of countries, but also the discipline of International Relations.
Even there are clash of virtues. Shakespeare. In his Othello, while defining human conditions have illustrated the human nature thus, perhaps it is just human nature, but people have a way of going to absolute extremes.
Freedom of expressions
The education campuses have become vibrant arenas of art, culture and politics. We have seen the maturing of minds over the last four decades. Now we have millions of student across Bangladesh on the university campuses that practices freedom of speech and expressions.
The problem is not with the self-styled atheists or so-called liberal religionists, in our case though; it is Islam that has been put in controversy. The problem is, a small section of these atheist or free thinker schools have been turning into fanatical anti-religion and anti-believers.
These elements take advantage of secularism and liberalism and go on a campaign of religion bashing. These sightless followers of secularism (without knowing exactly what it all means) creates a perception in the minds that the practicing religious people (of any religion) are supposed to be extremists and mostly unqualified.
The liberalists ought to address these elements that are actually causing harm to this school of thought. Bangladesh is a liberal country. Our culture is open and receptive. We have time and again proved to the world that we can live in peace amidst mixed cultures.
But sporadic attacks on the unsuspecting populace who are least bothered about their religion and faith has gradually turned the society into a thorny abode of suspicion and hate. Mistrust took over our gullible minds. If a believer has the right to live and practice his faith then a non-believer also has the right to live his life.
A closer look in to the recent development would reveal that the rise of aggressive Islamic party workers and the intellectual bashing of religious conviction by anti-religious groups has set pattern of this cold blooded actions.
Crossing of limits
On one hand, the bloggers post their write ups at will, they write such texts that sometimes crosses all limits of decency and smacks of hatred; they even reach the point of degrading the revered person and prophets.
On the other hand, the militant activists of religion based political parties or groups come out with vengeance and resort to gruesome killings.
We can go on debating, evaluating, speechifying over issues that matters in our lives and society. We can be healthy minds showing our intellectual ability to outwit the other.
Well, there’s no problem even talking about these issues. But the trend is, while debating over these sensitive issues we cross our limits and land on the plains of hatred and demeaning. We take to spewing venom against faith and the atheists.
While we condemn the attacks on these liberals, we also call upon the government, civil societies and the educated sections of the country to call upon the ‘bloggers of free thinking groups’ not to demean, hurt, or create controversy over any religious creed of the majority or even the minority.
Source: Weekly Holiday