Saturday, March 2, 2013
[chottala.com] Khaleda Zia, 'genocide'
Khaleda Zia, 'genocide'
Syed Badrul Ahsan
Opposition leader Khaleda Zia is troubled over the recent killing of citizens across the country. It is a sentiment all Bangalees share with her, for the death of one individual in unnatural manner is a diminishing of the state.
But her characterisation of the deaths as genocide is a worrying sign of how she and her party are today out of touch with the country and with the pro-liberation, nationalist sentiments of the people of Bangladesh.
The acting secretary general of her party, the BNP, has warned, in old, time-worn manner, that any assault on the sentiments of the majority, meaning Muslims, population of the country will not be tolerated.
Meanwhile, efforts are being made by insidious elements across the country to paint the legitimate, patriotic protests at Shahbagh's Projonmo Chottor as a coming together of atheists. In death, Ahmad Haider Rajib is being demonised by the Jamaat and the BNP day after day. Images of young men and women, collected from sinister corners, are being super-imposed on the pictures of the Shahbagh rally to suggest that immorality is what drives these tens of thousands of young Bangalees who, in a bold demonstration of loyalty to the founding principles of Bangladesh, have only asked that the war criminals of 1971 pay for their misdeeds.
Khaleda Zia, as a former prime minister, should have known better than to misinterpret these recent deaths of individuals as an act of genocide. Since its founding in 1979, BNP has never found it necessary to draw attention to the genocide which left three million people dead in the war against Pakistan in 1971.
Khaleda Zia and her party seem to have never understood the feelings of a nation which has made it known, over the decades, that anyone who undermined the Bangalee struggle in 1971 will not have a respectable place in Bangladesh's history. In effect, the BNP and its leadership, by clearly taking the side of the Jamaat in this on-going movement for the war criminals to be brought to justice, have chosen to pit themselves against history. There are even young elements in the BNP who feel distinctly uncomfortable with the path their leaders have chosen for the party.
The discomfort extends to the rest of the country when Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir chooses to play the religion card in this struggle for the soul of the country. His attempt to denigrate the Shahbagh movement as one aimed against Islam comes in tandem with the attacks on Hindu homes and families by violent activists of the Jamaat. The BNP did not have to pander to the whims of an angry, petulant Jamaat. It could have demonstrated its understanding of contemporary political realities by empathising with the young. It could have been the party's chance to pull itself away from its controversial links with an organisation which remains condemned in history.
By opting to be with the Jamaat and so condone its vandalism, by stoking the old, outmoded Pakistani slogan of Islam being in danger, by refusing to listen to the voices of those who will be tomorrow's leaders, Khaleda Zia, Alamgir and their loyalists have further distanced themselves from the nation. They have failed to distinguish between their need to be on the right side of history and their terms of endearment for the Jamaat.
Khaleda Zia has said nothing about the burning of the national flag by Jamaat activists. Mirza Alamgir has spoken not a word about the damage to shaheed minars across the country by Jamaat goons. But they now see genocide being perpetrated and Islam being undermined in the country.
Genocide was what the Pakistan occupation army carried out, in association with the Jamaat, in 1971. And Islam was grievously assaulted by the Pakistan army when its soldiers killed God-fearing Bangalees, raped their women and left copies of the Holy Quran burning in the villages they pillaged. The Holy Prophet and his religion were humiliated when the Jamaat and its murder squads picked up good citizens, tortured them to an agonising death and dumped their corpses in desolate brickfields.
The BNP is in grave need of soul-searching.
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