Alok and Alim are two friends. They love cricket. Alok supports India and Alims’ Pakistan. As a Hindu, Alok deems it a moral duty to support India. But he keeps it in mind. He argues that we fought against Pakistan for our liberation. Alim as a Muslim supports Pakistan as it is a Muslim country. Alok and Alim support Bangladesh when it plays against both India and Pakistan. Their respective supporting India or Pakistan is the feeling of fundamentalism and hence communalism. Their supporting homeland (Bangladesh) is patriotism.
To believe a certain view, opinion or a doctrine refractorily and consider it as ultimate or great is fundamentalism. A fundamentalist always thinks his own view to be the greatest. Not only this, he considers it a sacred duty to impose his own view on others and bring them in his path. When birds of the same feather flock together, they want to run the country, the society according to their own belief. The fundamentalists want to rash and root out other peoples’ views. As a result there are conflicts everywhere. Fundamentalism has a wider field to be pastured. Fanaticism is an important side of fundamentalism and fundamentalism from the stand point of fanaticism is heinous.
The word ‘secularism’ has been used in the English language since the middle of the 19th century. It is derived from Latin word which refers to worldly life. At present, this word has been used for the doctrine that morality and education should be separated from religion. Practically, the term ‘secularism’ indicates that every citizen irrespective of caste, creed or religion shall have equal rights in political, social, religious and cultural affairs of the country. It is a boon to democracy. It helps to develop the healthy understanding among the different groups based on religion. It also leads to overall development of the country. If a particular religion dominates as the basis of a state, democratic rights of the citizens following other religions may be denied and the preaching of democracy then becomes a mere ridicule. Secularism is not opposed to religion but a great many people thinks it is opposed to religion, particularly it means that every religious group of a state will follow their religion freely without interfering with the rights of other religious groups. It teaches the people to exercise tolerance and to show respect to each other’s religion-an attitude which helps to establish universal brotherhood for the good of mankind.
Are the secular states completely secularized? ‘No, it cannot be said that state and religion are separated in every respect. As for example, in the United Kingdom king or queen is the arch of the Church of England. In this way, Anglican Church is the state religion of the United Kingdom. On the other hand, French is a secular state but there is a clear influence of Catholics in running the state. It is the same case with the United States of America, where the Protestants influence the state affairs.
Fundamentalism is always interfering with one’s religious belief. On the other hand communalism is unduly dragged into politics. Religion has become the main shelter to attack the political opposition. The universality of religion has been soiled and tainted in the field of politics. The fundamentalists are making men nonpolitical creatures in the name of politics closing the doors of advancement. Once, the advanced docility of Europe praised the contribution of religion to the progression of Europe. The religion made people of Europe to be thrifty, austere, economic as well as resulting in advancement of the continent. But the religion could not make the same influence in the bourgeoisie of the subcontinent. On the other hand, it has created some jurists whose ominous arrival in the society is hindering the move of development. In 1947, the subcontinent was also separated on the basis of religion. Though East Pakistan (at present Bangladesh) was encircled by India and geographically far away from West Pakistan yet it was a territory of Pakistan (West Pakistan) only due to religion.
The language Bengali (Bangla) is derived from Sanskrit which is a Hindu language. The autocrats of the West Pakistan imposed Urdu on the East Pakistan (Bangladesh) as the state language. In 1952, in language movement many dedicated their lives for the establishment of their mother tongue Bangla as state language of East Pakistan. In the remembrance of the martyrs, ‘Shahid Minar’ was built. In 1971, in the beginning of liberation war, the soldiers of West Pakistan destroyed the ‘Shahid Minar’ by bombing and declared that a mosque would be built there. On the 16th December of 1971, we got our freedom after a long period of a nine months’ fight against them. But we did not get our freedom from the fang of communalism. Because, it was imposed for us to fulfill the minimum requirements for a democratic movement. On the other hand, a class of people wanted to make themselves as the subservient of capitalism and imperialism. Another reason was religious bigotry. Later on, during the military administration religion was openly used as the main weapon of political crisis. So the renaissance of a few political party based on fundamentalism and communalism came into being. By that time, the helmsman of politics understood-most of the people of the country are followers of a single religion. They are God fearing. If they could be satisfied, the democracy of bourgeois would flourish. With the fall of military administration, its successors during their administration declared the religion as the state religion and which was a great attack on the followers of other religions and thus accelerated communalism. It is not the end of the communalism of the country. And the following which got the mandate as the democratic government through fair and free election also used narrow belief in democratic movement. Nobody hesitated to use individual’s beliefs as a resort to take advantages in election campaigns. What could be the best example of fundamentalism and communalism than it is.
Secularism is one of the main points of the present government of Bangladesh. In India, Hindu fundamentalists also have taken religion as the mainstay to ascend the state power. Once, they fed the deity with milk. They promised to build up Ram Mandir (Ram Temple) in the place of Babri Masjid (Mosque of Babur) and accordingly they destroyed Babri Masjid. At present, they are seated in the state power. The peace of Pakistan has been destroyed as it is based on fundamentalism. In spite of that, some groups are helping to establish fundamentalism in Afghanistan. As a result the peace of Afghanistan is also going to be destroyed. The fundamentalists of the subcontinent have become deadly. Many opine that some universities in the region are universities by name, actually they are institutions where native and foreign fundamentalists mingle. Afghan fundamentalists are receiving education from those institutions and are fighting for the state power. When fundamentalism takes its fighting attitude, it becomes awful. As for example, a Hindu fundamentalist named Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi in a prayer meeting.
On the threshold of the scientific and educational development though we expect that this conflict will come to an end, yet it is difficult to materialize. As for example, Yigal Amir of Israel, an advanced country, killed his country’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as he made peace treaty with the Philistines. In Bangladesh, a gang of miscreants attacked St. Francis Xavier’s Girls High School of Luxmi Bazar, St. Gregory’s High School and few churches raising objectionable communal slogan. In Bosnia, the Serbian soldiers have showed such barbarism that is unprecedented.
It is hoped that in Bangladesh fundamentalism and communalism will not reap a good harvest. The problem is the failure of non-fundamentalists. Our non-communal politics has been degrading and corrupting to such extent that we are frustrated. Yet we expect that in the near future there will be no existence of fundamentalism and communalism. The recent “Peace Treaty” with the subclass gives us the hope of elimination of fundamentalism and communalism from our country. Following this, the end of the sanguinary national quarrel of North Ireland is a positive step.
We are independent people under the open sky. We are all equal and the common children of God. We have no malice against one another, we have love for all. It should be the slogan against fundamentalism and communalism. In this context, I echo the words of Aleksandar, 14, a former Yugoslavian teenage boy-When I close my eyes, I dream of peace’.