Saturday, March 19, 2005

Creeping Talibanism in Bangladesh

A.K.Faezul Huq writes in The New Nation: Bangladesh's Independent News Source (H/T Dak Bangla) about the creeping transformation of Bangladesh from a secular state (immediately after the revolutionary split with Pakistan) in 1972 to the current state of affairs, where the country has a Friday weekend (non-standard in the region, and making business difficult), Islam as an official religion, lots of fundamentalist madrassas, and has experienced erosion or dissolution of the pillars of the original secular state.
Bangladesh was undoubtedly a moderate state at its inception---secular and progressive---till the rulers who took over after the massive political changes in mid '70s, decided to do away with the people's [formulated] constitution of 1972, replacing it with a controversial document of their own beliefs, thoughts and philosophy. [...]

One thing therefore has been proved beyond all doubts as the common perception so long had it. Some forces, inimical to the very existence of Bangladesh since our independence, have finally found it quite convenient to clandestinely fund the Islamic militants from the background in garb of their friends, but actually with the ulterior motive of tarnishing the age old secular identity of the people of Bangladesh amongst the comity of nations. And to a great extent they have succeeded no doubt.
The omitted material fills in the timeline to the present day. But the critical pieces are:
  1. Bangladesh has moved steadily from secularism to Islamic extremism since its founding.
  2. The cause is an unknown source or sources that has been funding lots of fundamentalist madrassas and political groups.
Huq doesn't speculate on the source of the funds. I'm not sure why not. Perhaps he is scared to. But it's pretty obvious. There are two possible sources for this. First, Saudi money has been used to spread Wahhabist activism for many years. Second, Pakistan's security services have been pumping money and support into extremist Deobandist groups for the same amount of time. The article doesn't state whether the madrassas are Deobandist, Wahhabist, or a mixture. But judging from the pattern in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Indian Kashmir, it is a combination of Saudi money and Pakistani guidance, which necessarily creates a Taliban-style result.

Not good news for Bangladesh.
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