Recognizing the steadily declining political, human rights and security conditions in Bangladesh, on June 7, 2016, the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg held a debate on the current situation in the South Asian country. During the lively discourse, several different views were put forth by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) regarding the causes and consequences of the deterioration of the societal and political space, foremost through rising Islamism, intolerance, political radicalization in the country. Considering these different views and opinions it should not come by surprise that there were also different suggestions made as to what should be the next steps by the parliament, and what kind of political action is expected in Europe from Bangladesh political elites in general and the government in particular. Despite varying opinions on what to do, MEPs agree the current political trajectory one may observe in Bangladesh is deeply worrying.
Exclusive Interview with Prothom Alo (Dhaka, Bangladesh):
Prothom Alo: How do you see the activities of Bangladeshi jihadists in the context of global jihadism?
Siegfried O Wolf: During the last decade, Bangladesh turned into a pivot for international terrorism. First of all, it serves, besides the Af-Pak region, as one of the most significant recruiting bases for the global jihad. The tremendous amount of Bangladeshis joining the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight NATO/ISAF troops or the (sporadic) arrests of recruiters, for example for Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front in Syria, can be seen as proof. Secondly, Bangladesh became a place for training and regrouping, as well as a platform to conduct terrorist attacks abroad. Unlike Pakistan and Afghanistan, the country is not in the military focus of the ‘war against terror’. Furthermore, a section of Bangladesh’s Islamist political parties are not only promoting Islamisation and militant extremism but also creating an atmosphere which is supportive of jihadists. In consequence, Bangladesh has developed into a favoured place for international terrorists to seek shelter. Today Bangladeshi jihadists determine a crucial constituent of global jihadism. Continue reading “Some Islamist parties inciting extremism in Bangladesh”
On February 26 the blogger Avijit Roy, a US-citizen of Bangladeshi origin, published author, and prominent voice against religious intolerance was murdered publicly in Dhaka after returning from a book fair (cf. The Guardian, 27.2.2015; cf. Alam, 27.2.2015). Roy, an engineer by profession was not only known as a passionate writer but also as the founder of the Bengali language blog Mukto-Mona, the “Free Mind”. Since 2000, Mukto-Mona served as a platform for independent thinkers, critical rationalists, humanists and sceptics in South Asia (cf. BBC, 27.2.2015b). As a defender of the “free-thought movement” in Bangladesh he was an advocate of liberal secular writing, scientific reasoning, human rights and particular sensitive social issues in conservative Bangladesh such as LGBT rights (cf. Alam, 27.2.2015; cf. BBC, 27.2.2015a; 27.2.2015b). Continue reading “The Killing of Avijit Roy: Silencing free-thinking and progressive conscience in Bangladesh”