Bangladesh has been witnessing extremists gaining strength since 1980 when youth joined the Taliban in Afghanistan. The ugly tussles between major parties created spaces and helped them to grow.
We know ideology, poverty, politics, frustration, lack of vision and international terrorist agenda are significant drivers of communal, ethnic, and religious intolerance in society. The extremist group undercover the political violence, exposed their strings spreading extremist plans of hatred and attack on religious minorities, and successfully created fear of religious and cultural intolerance and insecurity.
People’s consciousness was traumatized, they were gobsmacked after the 2016 holy artisan horror attack where innocent foreigners were killed. It is commonly believe Satkhira and chars are the safe heavens for the extremist group, it helps them to grow and receive training due to geographical location. Sundarban and India boarder close Satkhira help them hide quickly. 20% of Satkhira minority population live in fear, looking who can help. Satkhira people are religiously conservative, easy to mobilise on religious ground.
Bangladesh has rich history of tolerance, attitude and culture. We are obligated to nursing, promoting and encouraging the tolerance, social cohesiveness and inclusive society agenda forward to eradicate the extremist spread out of hatred and intolerance.
What Change SOHAY wants to make?
A genuine and true multicultural tolerant, inclusive and social cohesive Bangladesh. Break the vicious cycle of violence, hatred, anger and fear. We have to act proactively.
It is not enough to simply tolerate the differences of other people cultures and backgrounds, but rather will create an inclusive society in which everyone is able to live a life of dignity and respect.
The extremist loves to create division in society through ethnic lines, undermining the minotiries rights, brain washing youths to persue their agendas, create anger, fear, helplessness and anxieties in the society. The social tension created spaces for the extremist group to grow.
The engagement of youth, women, transgender, religious minorities, school, college, beggers, local folk groups, tea stalls, religious leaders, people leaders in civic responsibility through social media and other ways for inclusive society that are stable, safe, just and tolerant, respect diversity, where all people will organise their religious and cultural program without any fear, rather will get support and protection from others.
Hard to build people consciousness deep rooted quickly but possible so that they understand the danger of extremism, radicalisation and intolerance, talk logically for religious and social harmony, build relationship to fight against intolerant and non-inclusive activities. Also nib in the bud the hatred and fake news could trigger violence.
Hold people together in society is vital. The social media to play its role on inclusive society. The efforts are to ensure equal opportunities for all, regardless of their background, religion and ethnicity, enable full and active participation of every member of the society in all aspects of life, including civic, social, economic, and political activieis.
Bring religious leaders in one platform for unity and preach peace and tolerance. It is a place where one feels comfortable express feelings. Use the community gathering tea shops a place to talk about the beauty of peace, tolerance, harmony and diversity and benefit of multiculture. Also use the beggers, and local folks groups spreading the messages of tolerance and inclusivity through their regular activities.
The reality is, it is difficult in short term to creat inclusive institutions, transparent politics and commitment to fundamental human rights. However, accelerate transformation, build resilience to shocks, crisis and risk reduction by engaging key stakeholders focus on youth, women and vulnerable groups to fight against fundamentalism are possible and we should use our knowledge, strength, strategies and experience for these to happen.