This is not about ideals anymore.
If the recent murders of a blogger, a college professor, and the editor of a magazine (the subject matter has nothing to do with this) aren’t enough to goad the government into at least attempting to protect its own citizens, I’m afraid all is lost.
But why should it? It’s far easier to simply blame the Opposition for it (if it can even be called an opposition anymore) and deny that the country is in any actual danger. Sweep the whole thing under the rug. Nothing to see here.
People get killed by people nearly every other day here in Bangladesh, over things as petty as a dispute over land or even suspicion of adultery. People die out of hunger out on the streets. People die from the heat. If there is one thing that defines Bangladesh more than anything else, it’s death – it’s what led to the nation’s birth, after all, so why bother trying to protect folk from the inevitable?
Perhaps this is exactly the rationale that our current leaders are subscribed to, and given the state of affairs, it doesn’t seem that unlikely.
Protecting free expression
No, this is not about ideals. Ours is a free country – curtailing basic rights such as freedom of thought and freedom of expression should not even come into question after nearly half a century worth of progress well into our nation’s existence.
So why is it that our own prime minister condemned an entire segment of our society to fend for themselves over their beliefs, or rather lack thereof?
What reason do we have to believe that our own government is even willing to protect us from any sort of danger anymore, when they themselves have practically given the go-ahead to any enterprising two-bit thug trying to prove its worth to its overlords?
No, it was never about ideals. A murder by any other name is still murder, whether it be in service of the almighty Allah or the even mightier Taka.
Time for action
Similarly, it matters not what the victims stood for as individuals, it surely didn’t mean anything to Professor Siddique’s killers, after all, who proceeded to kill the veteran educator in cold blood despite protests from a fellow colleague about the professor’s utter indifference towards engaging in politics, or testimonies to how he walked on eggshells when it came to saying something that had even the remotest possibilities of “hurting religious sentiments,” even stating, as a desperate last resort, how the old man had made several donations to mosques and madrasas – places where Muslims go to seek absolution and engage in school-boy hijinks, not necessarily in respective order.
It doesn’t matter what Nazimuddin Samad wrote on his blog, it doesn’t matter what ideals Xulhaz Mannan championed through his magazine, their killers only know how to do one thing: Kill. And the only things that should matter to us now are justice and security. And no, suggesting people to not share opinions that might otherwise put them in harm’s way does not equate to providing either, it’s incompetence.
Now is not the time for pensive odes to loss of ideals, for there is no such thing – history has proven time and again that human progress as a phenomenon is always “two steps forward one step back” – it’s time for us to remind those who have laid claim to the throne to finally start doing their job right. Otherwise, what would even be the point of ours being an independent nation?
This article first appeared on the Dhaka Tribune website.