by Kazi Mohua
Despite having some orthodox problems like over population and political instability, Bangladesh, the South Asian nation, has been a textbook example for its steady growth in the economy and various social indicators. Along with these positive achievements, this Muslim-majority country has also faced ominous threats from some of the Islamic extremist groups. Starting in 2013, targeted killing of bloggers, online activists and some religious minorities had been a regular issue in the country. The tension picked up on July 1, 2016 when a few militants took over the bakery called ‘Holy Artisan’ and killed 29 people, most of which were non-Muslims and foreigners.
The challenge was apparent and obvious. The young and talented generation was brainwashed through a very systematic approach. From 2013 to 2016, hundreds of students went missing from their homes and eventually joined extremist groups. There were terrorist attacks and, in most of the cases, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Qaeda sought the credit of them. But the Government of Bangladesh strongly denied any link between the local terrorist incidents and the transnational terrorist groups. Instead, they blamed homegrown radicals and extremists. Though denial wasn’t a great thing to practice but the government’s strict stance against terrorism and some subsequent actions brought the situation under control.
As a journalist, I have seen the ugly nature of terrorism in Bangladesh and the country’s struggle in fighting it. And I can say that there are no silver bullet solutions to the problems of terrorism and radicalization. Violence was never unfamiliar to Bangladesh. It has seen several fits of political instability and that is one of the major reasons for the rise of Islamic terrorism. The strong connections between a violent internal Islamist party with a mainstream political party of the country was always a good bait for the outsider jihadist movements. So, to me, political stability is the first solution to terrorism.
In the aftermath of those attacks, the first natural response is to increase and boost the power and capacity of security forces. The Holey Artisan incident is called the Bangladesh’s version of 9/11. After that incident, the government allowed police the legal Carte Blanche to kill without due process. Fear minimized the rate of terrorism in a very faster way, giving the government time to think about its tactics to fight terrorism.
Extremism can affect individuals of all educational levels and socioeconomic backgrounds. Managing concrete solutions both on institutional and individual level is mandatory. More specific solutions and engagements in the areas of civil society and grassroots activism can help as well. The explanation of humanitarian belief is same in all religions. However, making the same explanations is also important for humankind.
However, leveraging the strength of social values and communication can minimize terrorism. This has been one of the success areas of the Bangladesh government in cutting down the rate of fundamentalists. It didn’t allow terrorism to spread roots secretly. On top of everything: an appropriate and unanimous communication strategy among all nations in adopting the successful models of antiterrorism movements can help fight terrorism throughout.