The death sentence handed out by a Bangladesh trial court to five Islamist extremists for the murder of blogger Avijit Roy in 2015 points to the seriousness with which that country deals with the murderous spin some people gave to their religion. The Bangladesh government’s hot pursuit of Islamist militants who wanted to destroy voices other than theirs has resulted in the sentencing. The six convicted militants — one of them got life sentence — belong to domestic militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla, which the police says is inspired by the al Qaeda. The group is suspected to be behind the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers in the country.
Bangladesh saw violent incidents involving religious extremists between 2013 and 2017, and the mass murder of 22 people in a café in upmarket Dhaka in 2016 was the worst of them. The mindless attack jolted the civil society and forced the government to relentlessly pursue the cases. The latest verdict must bolster the country’s determination to deal with religious obscurantism with an iron hand.
Bangladesh has passed through instances of turmoil that few nations would have. It’s the child of a war, and was orphaned while being a toddler. Its democratic system was upset several times; extremists managed to have a say in the matters of a state, albeit for a brief while. Its original liberal constitution underwent massive changes in between. Despite all this, the inherent values the people of Bangladesh held dear to their hearts got the nation back on the inclusive, secular, liberal track.
Every society benefits by being inclusive; it gives every member a chance to rise to her full potential to the benefit of all. Militant groups, whether they are inspired by religious or political thoughts, kill this possibility and drive people into manmade ghettos where they languish. This verdict is a pointer to the fact that Bangladesh has no plans to allow such a thing to happen to itself.