Change your words, change Bangladesh
AS we were recovering from the trauma of pre- election violence of last three months, seeing people getting killed and burned by crude bombs leaving behind more than a 100 dead, the nation witnessed sectarian attacks against the minority communities. Their houses, shops and even temples were not spared. Different newspaper reports confirmed that it was the propaganda and rumors spread by some vested quarter that was either interested in political power or would like to destabilise the nation.
Globally our country still has a good e reputation for being largely a moderate and democratic Muslim majority country. Presently, this status has, however, been under threat. It is not only politicians but our intellectuals, civil society members, including teachers, doctors and media personalities, who make political statements that are equally responsible for the misrepresentation of the country's image.
Political statement is part of politics, but while doing so, one must choose ones words carefully when dealing with highly sensitive issues to avoid misunderstanding and ambiguity, especially in areas of traditional values. In politics, a statement is considered as deadly ammunition. What you say, how you say it, where you say it, all bears considerable ramifications for both self and the public. Politicians are expected to talk on the key issues of economic development, health, education etc, but instead most of the time they are seen criticising and abusing each other using offensive language. In public meetings so often we have heard the BNP leader accusing the prime minister and her party as “Pro-Indian” and “enemies of Islam”. Reacting to her allegations, the PM terms the BNP leader as “Pro-Pakistan” and “anti-Bangladesh” and asks her to go to Pakistan. By labeling each other, their main motive is to win the heart of the voters but what they do not realise is that their words are sending negative signals to the world. Bangladesh being the third largest Muslim country in the world, it is only natural to assume that Islam will play an important role in moulding our politics and culture. But because of their bitter personal rivalry and acrimony we are now wrongly characterised as “fundamentalist” nation.
Partisan politics have not only created division amongst the common people but also our so called intellectuals and civil society members who are politically prejudiced and inclined to their political mentors. Most of them are misusing their brain and intellect, instead of showing people the path of progress and prosperity they are portraying the country and people incorrectly. It is true that we have poverty, backwardness and there are several Islamist groups but it is also true that the vast majority of Bangladeshi Muslims cannot be militant. Some of the write-ups on different dailies and views and opinion on different talk-shows give negative picture of Bangladesh. We believe these are mostly politically motivated which in turn control and influence the mind of the people. Dangerously, a group of intellectuals and political leaders have developed the culture of sycophancy. They have always been lauding the views and opinion of their top leaders, blindly. We must understand, just because we have the right to free speech does not mean that we can just spew out whatever is on the tip of our tongue without regard for the consequences of our words.
It is normal to have differences of opinion in a multi-party democratic system. Different party will have different ideology, views, opinion and not necessarily they will always agree on every issue but 'disagreement' doesn't mean 'disunity' and allows one to burn other's houses, shops or threaten throw ones opponent out of the country. A study reveals that around 60% of our population is young who supports different political parties. In every household of Bangladesh we may find that one brother might support AL and other might be a member of BNP or any other political party, they argue and fight with each other but at the end of the day they forgive and forget and live under the same roof. Unless, we collectively learn to forgive and forget, we shall never be able to overcome our differences and grow.
Unfortunately, the main priority of our political parties is to gain power to rule or remain in power by any means and for doing so they are using the wrong words which are putting the reputation of the people and country at stake. People of all religions, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist are living on this land for centuries of rich cultural diversity and communal harmony. Politicians are taking advantage of the poverty and emotions of the people to serve their own interests. They are exploiting the youths who are fighting with each other, engaging themselves in fierce feuds on behalf of their mentors. Rather than uniting the nation they are dividing and making us enemies of each other, instigating us by using wrong words and hurting our religious sentiments.
The future of Bangladesh depends on how the government tackles the situation or else this country will become another Afghanistan, Iran or even Pakistan. This is a homogeneous country - the character of which could have been an excellent component for uniting the nation now divided into many factions because of the nature of politics. We need to come out of this destructive culture and change our 'words' to change Bangladesh.
The writer is a businessman.
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