Where majority is a minority!
Md. Shahrear Talukder
Situations are getting topsy-turvy. In a Muslim majority country Muslims are less privileged if one considers the case of Freedom of Expression. Banning on women’s head scarf (Hijab) in different educational institutions has become so rampant that one might question whether Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country. In our constitution in article 2A it has been mentioned:
The state religion of the Republic is Islam, but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in the Republic. (4th November 1972)
Unfortunately the idea of state religion has become a farce if we reckon present government’s attitude in upholding the spirit of Islam country wide. In several occasions some legislators made derogatory remarks with an intention to denigrate Islamic tradition widely practiced in Bangladesh and elsewhere. Mr. Latif Siddique, Tele Communications and Information Minister, his recent comment denouncing Hajj at a program in New York on Sunday 28 September 2014 is reflective of this attitude.
“I adamantly oppose Hajj and Tablighi Jamaat. I am also against Jamaat-e-Islami. But I detest Hajj and Tablighi Jamaat”.
Those who are non-practicing Muslims it might not be a matter of apprehension for them. Still as a citizen of a democratic country (so called), and if they are respectful (at all) to the constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, they should be concerned. Because this sort behavior gives us the inkling of a grim future of the much practiced secularism (as I have heard of it). In our constitution in Article 28(1) and (3) it is mentioned:
(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. (4th November 1972)
(3) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth be subjected to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to access to any place of public entertainment or resort, or admission to any educational institution. (4th November 1972)
In recent development we can see Muslims in Bangladesh are discriminated because of their Muslim identity. Most of the time men with beard and Panjabi or only with beard; women with Hijab and Burkha (Abaya) are getting tagged with particular political alignment whereas they should have been treated as Muslims. Or even if they are treated as Muslims (I am talking about practicing Muslim, not of those only for name sake), they are looked on as untouchable whatever the place is- school, college, university, offices both private and public, corporate houses and so on.
All the religions irrespective of their denominations share some common tenets which make the coexistence possible and ensure mutual respect, interests as well. In the name of freedom of expression one cannot leave disparaging comment on any religion. We are supposed to use our discretion and common sense in this regard. One may not like particular principles of a religion; but commenting on it publicly must be done judiciously. We have to know or try to explore up to where Freedom of Speech or Expression can go. If people are not aware of the limit, may be common people of Bangladesh might take responsibility in their hands to teach those brats the demarcation line between the Freedom of Speech or Expression and baloney.
P.S. Intentionally I avoided discussion based on Islamic Law; I just focused on the matter from mundane perspective.
29 September 2014