Kevin S. Boiragi: Recent threats given to Supriti Dhar by the radical fundamentalists is not a new phenomenon in Bangladesh, we have witnessed same thing happened with Taslima Nasrin, and recently with those 80 some people including Dr. Z.Iqbal. Pivotal parts to analyze here are the time frame and the methods in which these threats are delivered.
First, analysing the time frame we see that radical fundamentalism took a big chunk off Bangladesh in ’71; re-organized, and grew stronger in early 2000’s (some of the members were elected as parliamentary leaders). Older generations of these radical fundamentalists have successfully managed to pass their evil thoughts and ideologies to generations of present day and age.
Second, with the advent of technology, and education, most of these leaderships and members are ‘digitalised’ (in response to 2021 vision of digital Bangladesh), they study in expensive private universities-not to mention they are heavily recruited from madrassas; they surf on facebook, twitter, and roam around the cyber places trolling all those people who critically analyze or even engage in discussions addressing social issues.
Whatever these critical analyses are these fundamentalists are well capable to turn them otherwise into controversial religious discussions, and divert them wrongfully towards fundamentalism. By doing so they successfully recruit people-increasingly via social media: for example basher kella, although it is said to be banned from facebook, it is maintaining its prominence on youtube.
There are a bunch of other accounts who are walking along the line. This is fairly an easy thing to do since these accounts are hardly monitored (considering our law and enforcements are merely political puppets). Due to the nature of the social media platforms, users ‘share’ and/or ‘like’ news on walls. Unfortunately we dumb people share these prior verifications and justifications. Please note, sharing or liking anything on facebook have much greater implications than we think of.
These shifts: changes in leaderships, natures of organizing associations, methods of recruiting people and funding mechanisms, usages of technologies and political associations are quite alarming for our country; something that our politicians like to disagree. Ensuring and sustaining the massive economic structuring phases through which the country is going are the primary concerns of the government currently; nothing else matters. We have to be a digital country by 2021, who cares if in that process women subordinations, sexual assaults, corruptions, and fundamentalism among others are digitalised? By digital, I point out to the growth of the concerned sector with the advent of technology simultaneously.
We are facing, and about to face (hope not) more strategic orientations of such radical fundamentalism whose roots go beyond ’71, and we are not prepared for it, nor we are preparing our future generations. During this time cohort, these groups have tried their best in gaining more access to resources (including human recruitments), political control; they have transformed their operation tactics; certainly they have managed to make themselves technologically advanced.
Premising on above discussion, let us go back to the topic of Supriti receiving threats from fundamentalists. If we consider, for the sake of the argument here, Supriti representing the entire women population of our country, then these threats are meant against all women. It does not matter whether one agrees with it or not. Because, articles written about wearing hijab, for example, do not undermine the religious logic (if any) behind it, they engage in discussions that analyze women empowerment, they analyze roles of religion traits promoting and thus securing patriarchy (considering no religion favours men over women and none of the religions empower the former than the latter).
Clearly, the fundamentalists are incapable, or I should say are not interested analysing through these lenses; they are more interested transforming Bangladesh into a radical fundamentalist country at whatever costs, be it capturing women intellectuals. The funny part in this equation is that, by doing so, they target the men of the country, they very strategically manage to put question marks on patriarchy. I analyse patriarchy as a form of power that constantly dominates women. So, if there is a question mark, then certainly, the vast majority of our male population (in some cases myself too) feel so uncomfortable in maintaining this form of power over our female counterparts.
So what are the due diligences? I suggest to take these rising issues seriously before they get out of our control. We have been noticing the politicizations of these fundamentalists over the past few years which are indeed alarming. So as citizens of this (so called) democratic country, it is up to us if we want to sit back and relax by leaving it up to the government, including all the politicians who are using these fundamentalists in one way or other, or we come together and confront these issues straight.
We, the male population of this country need to overcome our taboo around patriarchal power because this form of power does not bring peace in society rather increases inequalities which are the perfect atmosphere for these fundamental parasites to grow. We should support each other. And we must analyze the time frame and the methods (among others that I do not analyze here) to understand (and therefore confront) the current radical fundamentalism in Bangladesh.
Kevin S. Boiragi; York University; Toronto.