Bangladesh has been rocked by brutal killings of secularists and liberals accused of having defamed Islam or engaging in alternative lifestyles against the tenets of the religion, raising worrying questions about whether the secular traditions of the moderate Muslim country are under threat.
The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the grisly murder of a Hindu tailor on Saturday — the man allegedly made defamatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed several years ago. Last week, a rallying figure for Bangladesh’s marginalised lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community was slain with Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent claiming responsibility.
The Bangladeshi government, however, says these transnational jihadist movements have no presence in the country and points the finger at homegrown militant groups. The Prime Minister has blamed the murders on the opposition parties, saying they have “been engaged in such secret and heinous murders to destabilise the country”. Families of victims complain of slow and ineffective police investigations.
… “At the very least, there must be, in my assessment, cells of IS sympathisers and clusters that have been influenced by the extremist IS and Al Qaeda ideology,” said Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna, a security expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).
“IS ideology enables homegrown extremists to see their domestic struggles as part of a wider global conflict between IS and the Western, secular world. I believe if the government in Dhaka can show more explicit political will in investigating the extent and spread of IS extremism, this will have positive knock-on effects on police investigations as well, down the line.”
Last updated on 05/05/2016