Yesterday, when my Facebook newsfeed filled with photos of the besmirched wall paintings done by the students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Chittagong University as part of Pahela Baishakh festivities, I was not surprised.
Just like I wasn’t surprised when I read about the proposal to remove the statue of Lady Justice at the Supreme Court and that from now on the Dawra degree of Qawmi madrasa will be equivalent to a master’s degree.
And I wasn’t surprised that time either when a Dhaka University professor was suspended for showing “obscene materials” in his Gender and Development class.
READ MORE: Nababarsha graffiti defaced in port city
And the time before that when I wasn’t surprised when the Bangladesh Parliament passed the law allowing child marriage under “special circumstances”.
We live in strange times where ambitions of women’s empowerment and backward laws that legalise child marriage go hand-in-hand, where we speak of celebrating our secular traditions while communalising textbooks.
Acceptable emotions could range from anger to resignation but to be “surprised” or “shocked” by these occurrences is frankly quite naive.
You may wonder, why the sudden hullabaloo about the statue of Lady Justice which most Muslims have no problems with? And isn’t it the education ministry’s job to award master’s recognition to the Dawra degree? What are the criteria/standards to recognise a madrasa degree as master’s? What does this mean for the education system as a whole? Does this mean a master’s degree holder from Qawmi madrasa is as “qualified” as a master’s graduate of computer science and engineering from a reputable private university for a job in public office?
If you had at all been paying attention to the news, you’d know that we have come to a point where acts of protestation against anything you deem unfair or that goes against your liberal values will eventually have to be suppressed because you are too scared to speak your mind.
Because by now you know that anything and everything can and will be used against you to advance the false narrative of “Bangali” vs. “Muslim” because they are somehow “mutually exclusive” and at this point the most you can do to relieve yourself of your anger is write a vague Facebook status because you don’t want to end up in jail.
You should know by now that we live in times where political ambitions cower in fear to destructive forces that threaten our culture and tradition and political leaders ironically urge us to unite and take a stand against the same forces.
So don’t get too riled up about the pictures of the defacement of the Nababarsha graffiti. There is much worse to come.