“You can reassure Bengali Hindus as much as you want that JI-Shibir represents a small, fanatical fringe element. That majority are tolerant. That Bangladesh is as much their home as any Muslim or any other religion. You can say these words at seminar after seminar, but the damage is done and has been done for four decades now. Our Hindu brothers and sisters are leaving, bit by bit, every day. One day we will wake up to a Bangladesh emptied out of all religious and ethnic diversity and it will be too late.

Wake up, please. Before it’s too late.”

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About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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11 Responses to

  1. Conflict is part of life, and, somewhere and somehow we all experience it but at different levels. Unfortunately it seems South Asia and Middle East are engulfed in flames. Be it Syria, Egypt, Israel and Palestine, as well as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – it just never ending. I think religion plays a part in it, but even worse is the ‘cast’ system which makes it deadly. If anyone followed their religion with pure sincerity then there wouldn’t be any bloodshed as all religions project the message of tolerance and living peacefully along your neighbor – but with the cast system – unfortunately there is nothing to govern it but personal stance and that when this becomes dangerous.

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    • I’m not sure what you mean by ‘cast’ here. If you mean the ‘caste’ system in reference to the Hindu caste system then I feel you are being a little harsh on a system that has worked for Indians for centuries. There may well be Hindu readers of this blog who would take exception to your stance!

      I think religion makes a huge part of it – but not religion as you describe it (which I agree with you about) but a religion that is based on the need for power and runs on paranoia. The West likes to focus on the Islamic form of this power religion these days but conveniently forgets that it has it’s own fair share of Christian fundamentalists who are just as bad. At the same time, it is too easy to throw out all religions on the false basis that they lead to trouble and persecution. We need more of the religion you describe but unfortunately I think we will always find this abusive kind instead…

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      • Yes, I meant the ‘caste’ system, but I guess I may not have explained what I meant clearly – I often find it pretty difficult to write using my mobile and the auto-spell is atrocious. I feel that with the caste system in place, especially when I visited India, puts up a kind of barrier which you can not and never pull down. Those who find themselves born into a higher caste family usually experience very little difficulty and with those who born into a lesser caste rank experience much more difficulty. For a British Asian, I am aware caste systems but to have experienced them first hand in India was a true eye opener. It’s usually the case that foreign occupiers tend to exploit the caste system and so do the politicians. My point was, that with religion you can govern it by referring back to religious text but with caste – you don’t have anything to govern it with – so this goes on and on.

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        • I honestly don’t know if the hindu system has a relgious text to govern the caste system or not. However, I think your answer is highly influenced by a Western/Arabic thinking that it needs to be in written form to have credibility. In religion this means having a sacred text. Many cultures don’t have this but run on an oral basis instead and do so in a very well-organised and systematic manner. I’m not sure we can say the caste system doesn’t have anything to govern it even if there is no religious text to give rules. I may be wrong here though – I have to confess my knowledge of Hinduism is sorely lacking!

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  2. Rinth says:

    It’s just so sad… I mean for me it feels like all these conflicts are between “muslims”. You don’t hear stuff like Hindus or Christians rising up and protesting (do they?), yet they are the ones who are suffering. It’s not fair.

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    • I think you do hear of Hindus and Christians et al doing just the same actually – or have in the past. For instance, just recently we’ve had hundreds of Muslims flooding in to Bangladesh after persecution from the Buddhists in Myanmar – Buddhists of all people! As I found growing up in the UK during the 80s with the IRA terrors going on, it is very easy to do evil in the name of God. He always makes a good excuse when the reality – that you are a bad person doing bad things – is too hard to swallow. Here in Bangladesh, I’m proud that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are demanding decency, justice and respect for all.

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      • Rinth says:

        Yeah I know about the Myanmar situation. And you’re probably right. I think the reason for me thinking that it’s the muslims who are being bothered by religious politics is because I don’t really know any Hindu Bangladeshi, so my assumptions all base on what I encounter myself.

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        • It’s easily done ans we all tend to be more critical of our ‘own people’, I think. I know I tend to be more critical of the British than others I know though I don’t think that critiicism is invalid. If you don’t know anything about a certain kind of people it is difficult to know what they are like or not like. I tend to acknowledge that all cultures are different and have both strengths and weaknesses but that around the world people tend to be very similar even if how those similarlities are expressed are different. With that in mind, all cultures have their bad guys and their selfish ones just as they have good, noble and selfless ones too. Be they Muslim, Hindu or Christian or whatever.

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          • Rinth says:

            Yeah of course… culture in itself is created by man, and religion is practiced by man… and whatever is manmade is of course never perfect :P.

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  3. Audrey Chin says:

    Ken, thanks for the udpates. It is very sad how we can get entrenched into our positions and then adopt postures of belligerance to defend them. When that happens, it’s all to easy to jump out from where we are positioned and go on a rampage. I love the position my friend has taken – my position is different from yours but my posture towards you will always be one of love… If we could all take that to hard.

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