Murder of Rationality


Raza Habib Raja

Bangladesh and Pakistan are similar and yet different. They are similar as both of them are Muslim countries and both have Islamists in their midst. And yet they are different as the latter is definitely more embroiled in Islamic extremism than the former.

Bangladesh to be fair is a more moderate country compared to Pakistan. And this moderation owes to many factors. Bengalis are foremost nationalists and this characteristic to some extent acts as a counter balance to emergence and possible dominance of  Islamic identity. Moreover Bangladesh is also ethnically more homogeneous compared to Pakistan which naturally reduces the need to use Islam as a “unifying force”. Bangladesh’s creation and the justifying narrative are based on ethnicity and consequently, religion though important, would never assume the kind of dominance which it receives in Pakistan.  And in fact the last factor has enabled Bangladesh to become secular at least in official capacity.

And last but not the least is the dominance of intellectuals in the public sphere. Bangladesh has a rich intellectual milieu which has resulted in relative dominance of intellect and rationality in the public sphere.

And yet, Bangladesh, though to a lesser extent, has also grappled with the problem of extremism. And this extremism has often targeted the intellectuals. Many years ago Tasleema Nasreen was forced to flee Bangladesh and seek asylum abroad.

But it is the latest killing, of the blogger Avijit Roy, which has really shocked everyone. It has once again reiterated and reminded that no matter how “secularized” a country becomes, the menace of Islamic fundamentalism is not to be taken lightly. This reminds us that a country’s work or efforts have to go much beyond declaring a country secular. And above all this reminds us that there could be no free debate in the presence of religious zealots in general and Islamists in particular.

What has happened is shameful and it should be condemned and taken extremely seriously.  And seriousness demands that Bangladesh does not make the mistakes ( or were those “mistakes” and not deliberate choices) which Pakistan made.

Religious fundamentalism has to be clamped upon and it is not just authorities targeting extremist physical sanctuaries, but going beyond that.  It is about cultivating an atmosphere of free speech and interaction. And it can not be done unless religion is relegated to only personal sphere.  It does not even belong to public sphere, let alone state.

And let me say it clearly to all those who have been supporting RSS excesses also! The fact that RSS is not like ISIS does not justify its actions. Hindutva may be milder than militant Islam but it is still religious chauvinism.

If your justification for RSS excesses is more reprehensible Islamist excesses, then it is a poor excuse no matter how “enlightened” you are!  The fact that Hindutva is not as regressive as Islamism does not mean that it is justified.

Religious chauvinism  is regressive in general and no matter what religion, faith  belongs to only private sphere.  Let’s be united here.  

1ad9381c-8dbf-4d53-9cf5-bac1663eced1-1020x612 (1)But there is a silver lining here! There were many who came out on the streets and protested in Bangladesh, something which I have never witnessed in Pakistan; but then Pakistan is already a lost case.

Bangladesh is not a lost cause! Despite all of this, it is alive and kicking. And I hope it remains vibrant!

Joy Bangla!


  • tajender

    Rana Ayyub @RanaAyyub · Yasin malik holds massive pro azaadi rally in Jammu and Kashmir. BJP managed what the Congress- NC could not

  • Fingolfin

    True true. But I remain a genuine well wisher of Kaal.
    An individual is not born with his/her views. These are acquired. They change over time as an individual evolves. No one is ever static. Additions and Subtractions happen everyday. Kaal here was once a liberal for example.

  • Mohan

    I was not referring to anyone. I was just speaking in general terms.

  • Yogendra Yadav

    It’s not always true that sadists want to inflict grave dangers on others. Sometimes it’s the opposite. Arvind is a sadist while I am a masochist. Once in Delhi, just before the elections, Arvind was walking down the street when he accidentally ran into me when I had just stepped out of a grocery store knocking me to the ground. He was apologizing profusely while he helped me to my feet and aided me in gathering my groceries, now strewn all over the sidewalk.
    I began telling Arvind that my scrapes and bruises were no problem since I was a masochist and enjoyed pain. Upon learning this, Arvind asked me if he could accompany me home for some fun and games. That was the first time I came to know that he was a sadist. Learning that he was a sadist I was excited and I quickly agreed to bring him home.
    After reaching my home in north Delhi I was practically beside myself with anticipation. I nearly swooned as Arvind shackled me in a corner and walked to the opposite wall where long and fearsome cane was hanging and took it from its perch. I, being a masochist, was now trembling with anticipation and asked; “Are you going to beat me with that?” Arvind, the sadist, with a gleam in his eye, answered; “NO”.
    That was when I decided to no longer continue as one of his yes men. I am sure Prashant also has a similar story to tell.

  • Fingolfin

    I know

  • Namboodiripad

    FF, a pleasant surprise. Narendra Dabholkar’s son Hamid Dabholkar has surprised his detractors with his integrity and has spoken out against Mr Kejriwal.

    He says, “it is disheartening to see that people are ready to accept dictatorship rather than standing up and posing questions.”

    Supporting the rebels, he observes that “in a democratic country, people are ready to accept a leader with dictatorship qualities. Till the time citizens of this country do not pose questions, the path of consciousness looks difficult.”