Societies the world over are becoming increasingly intolerant and violent. Political intrigues and atrocious economic inequality have stoked religious fundamentalism, bigotry and hate campaign. The victims everywhere are 'religious minorities' or vulnerable people. Slavery and apartheid have long been abolished in the land of the free and in South Africa. But the racial hatred, the rise of ultra-right white supremacists and violation of the human rights are yet to go.
If colour prejudice still undermines the Black people in America, it is religious or ethnic minorities who suffer the onslaughts of communal hatred and violence in wider parts of the world. The subcontinent has ever remained one of the hotspots of communal violence initially engineered and stoked by the colonial English as part of their political expediency. It came as a parting kick just when they had to leave forever but the dreaded legacy refuses to leave even in the country that emerged as a secular nation after nine months of bloody war.
If unsuspecting Black men like George Floyds still fall victim to racial prejudice ---not least harboured by men in uniform --- in the US, communal conflicts and violence vitiate the once peaceful social environment in which communities in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar lived. Even socialist China is not free from religious bias, reportedly, against Uyghur Muslims. So are the Muslims in India, Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, non-Buddhists in Myanmar and Buddhists, Hindus and non-Muslim ethnic minorities in Bangladesh, all of whom are increasingly subjected to discriminations of different forms and varying degrees because of their religion.
In Europe which was supposed to leave behind Hitler's diabolical racial superiority theory once again saw the eruption of religio-ethnic pogrom in Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. All this is a grim reminder that civilisation is on a course of retrogression not just in this part of the world but also in advanced societies where a man of Josip Broz Tito of Non-Alligned Movement fame once lived.
The contentious issue in this part of the world is chiefly religion, the zealots of which are campaigning superiority of their respective religion. Their appeal is to ritualistic religions as against humanitarianism. A sharp decline in the secular psychological make-up has engineered a process of undermining the religion of the 'others'. The crafty and intriguing groups are desperate to prove the inferiority of the religions of minorities and thus justify attack on the latter on the flimsiest of pretexts ---at times manufactured ones to suit their ill-conceived objectives.
Thus take shape the politically motivated, Citizen Act and the rise of Hindutva in India and gets currency the promotion of religious sentiment on fake social site posts in Bangladesh ---both developments proving highly damaging to human rights, social peace and harmony. In fact, the blasphemous charges are brought about by crafty and intriguing groups with an ulterior motive where the true religious people have no part to play. From Ramu to Nasirnagar, Brahmanbaria to Nanua Dighirpar, Cumilla to a village of majority fishermen in Pirganj, Rangpur, the pattern is the same.
In all such incidents of attack on the minorities, the allegation of blasphemy proved baseless but the backlash was costly for the victims in terms of dwelling houses, property and even in terms of human life. The latest such orchestrated attack in Narail only brings to the fore the growing evil design being hatched up by a section of the people who in the name of preserving the sanctity of religion are doing the greatest disservice to their faith.
In his long post Mashrafe Bin Mortoza, former national cricket captain and now MP has hinted at mysterious behind-the-scene string pullers. Understandably, without the blessing of such invisible patrons such heinous attacks including arson and looting is impossible in a country where the party in power is the one that led the war of independence and the supreme leader of that party and founding father of this nation is an epitome of secularism. In all such cases, the rumour of blasphemy is deliberately spread like wildfire to incite mob mentality against a whole community for the alleged (fabricated) crime of a single person. There are clear agenda the backstage players pursue either in the form of misappropriation of land or other property or maybe, political mileage to be used in time of election. Without bringing them to book, incidents of communal violence cannot be controlled.
On a broader scale, the same craftiness and intrigues have prompted world players to expand their spheres of influence. The cold war was a product of not just military rivalry but also of a clash of theories between Marxism and open market economy. With the disintegration of Soviet Union, the cold war could cease to be. But the US pursued its policy of unilaterism which was largely responsible for the rise of Islamist militancy and radicalism in the Middle-east, leading to the 9/11 tragic incident.
The currency of zealotry or bigotry is not without a global influence. American policy towards the ME has solidified a supranational Muslim identity. But if the extreme version that started raising its ugly head from 2012 in Bangladesh has been brought more or less under control, the poisonous effect left on impressionable minds is yet to be erased. Instead, its cancerous growth is fast spreading because it has not been taken equally seriously and no punishment meted out to the perpetrators, or there is no strong counter campaign against bigotry. Fighting the virus in the antidote has also remained neglected.