Bangladesh sets unique example
Published : Saturday, 7 October, 2017 at 12:00 AM, Update: 07.10.2017 12:24:42 AM
Mir Mosharref Hossain Pakbir
Bangladesh is a land of diversity and equality. Constitutionally secular, it is diverse in terms of religion, ethnicity and language of its citizens. In spite of that, communal harmony does prevail in every aspect of our country. There are people from different religions and groups which constitute the 160 million population of Bangladesh. Muslims being the largest with over 90 percent of the total population, here also live the Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and also some people from other faiths.
Underlying difference exists in terms of ethnicity and language but that does not impede peaceful cohabitation. The tribal people of Chittagong Hill Tracts living alongside millions of Bengali settlers from the plains are the greatest example of harmony, peace, mutual respect and equality. This trait of Bangladesh has made it the role model of communal harmony and 2017 has been the year of greatest example of that.
Once the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina said, “Religions are personal, festivals are for all. Peace, friendship and harmony are our pride”. There might be differences in religion but people from all religions participate in the festivals of other religions. The Hindus, Buddhists, Christians — everyone shares the joy of Eid, the largest festival of the Muslims. Similarly, we find the Muslims participating in the Durga Puja of the Hindus or Christmas of the Christians. The bond seems to have been created with a deep sense of brotherhood and respect for each other’s faith.
Considering the differences in ethnicity also, the tolerance they show to each other is in exemplary. Ethnic groups dot various parts of the country, the Santhals in the north and the Chakma, Marma, Murong, Garo, Hazong and Rakhines in the Hill Tracts. They have lived in harmony for a very long time with complete understanding and good neighbourliness — barring few incidents like the Hill Tracts insurgency over 25 years which Sheikh Hasina settled through a peace agreement signed with the tribal “Shanti Bahini” rebels. She extols peace everywhere and peaceful living among all communities.
Sheik Hasina truck the deal after becoming the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in her first term in 1997 that slowly restored harmony and peace in the country’s vast southeastern region bordering India and Myanmar. They are now celebrating life together and celebrating respective religious and cultural programmes now in a greater extent in spite of our differences in ethnicity, religion and language.*2017 has been an iconic year till now in terms of prevailing communal harmony in Bangladesh. With a huge refugee crisis stemming from the inflow of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, the whole world has its eyes on us right now.*
Difference exists among the Muslims also as 3 per cent of the Muslims are Shias while most of the others are Sunnis. In the Islamic world, there lies a great conflict between the Shias and the Sunnis due to their varied beliefs and rituals. Wars are being fought over these issues. But in Bangladesh, though the Sunnis are massively larger in number, the Shias do not face any trouble or oppression from them. Rather, they perform their rituals without any fear having enormous support from the Sunnis. We actually never bother to know if a Muslim is Shia or Sunni. Even our religious leaders never utter any concern over these differences and that is a great example of communal harmony that prevails in our beloved motherland.
We must note that, it seems we are always more supportive to the people from other religion, ethnicity or features. It is our tradition that, we are more curious to help or know about the people who belong to a different group. The friendship is very strong among representatives of different communities and that is a remarkable feature of Bangladesh.
The author is the Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA)