Mushtaq Ahmed, popularly known as ‘Crocodile Brother’, died in state custody under the Digital Security Act. He was detained for more than nine months. There was widespread outrage and protest through social media centering on his death. The protest spread on the streets. Leftist student organizations of various sects actively participated in the protest.
After the leftist students took to the field, the Chhatra Dal took to the field focusing on the issue, but after facing police obstruction, they decided to leave the field. They are still adamant in that decision. Although they talked about digital security laws, Mushtaq’s death, etc., they made it clear that they had no ability or desire to build a long-term struggle, struggle, movement, and decided to leave the field.
Despite holding third place in Parliament, the BNP is by far the second largest party in any other consideration. But even so, before embarking on any political program, they have to look to the left, which has 1 percent support, or the “Islamists,” which have a few percent support.
BNP leader Moudud Ahmed wrote in his book “Ongoing History: Some Time in Life 1983-1990” (p. 296), “The BNP has not yet become a political organization. There are many problems. It is difficult to say whether it will ever emerge as a struggling political party. ”
Political observers may not have much time to disagree that the BNP feels more comfortable in comfortable domestic politics or social media-based politics than militant politics.
Although the BNP has tried to be a little vocal on issues like the Digital Security Act, Mushtaq’s death, etc., the “Islamist” parties of all sects have remained completely silent on the issue.
According to Article 19 of the UK-based media watchdog Body, 458 people have been prosecuted and arrested in 198 cases under the Digital Security Act in 2020. It has been observed that the majority of those who have been arrested or tried under this law are left or secular in terms of political beliefs.
So far, no political activist believing in “Islamism” has been arrested or tried under this section, despite the public outcry against the Liberation War and Bangabandhu. “Islamist” parties consider the secular and the left as their main political enemies.
Leftists think they are atheists and secularists are almost atheists. Since they are facing arrest and trial under the Digital Security Act, “Islamists” see it as a means to an end.
At the same time, this law is not ideologically in conflict with the politics of “Islamism”. Earlier, they had long sought to imitate Britain’s blasphemy laws. At that time they had to face two criticisms. The first is that despite the politics of “Islamism”, they want the law of Christians. The second is that even though they speak against Western civilization, they want the same Western law made by the former colonial masters in Bangladesh.
As a result of their tacit support for the Digital Security Act, they do not have to face either of these two criticisms. That is, they do not have to face any ideological challenges.
The “Islamists” are not facing any ideological challenge on the issue of freedom of expression. Because they have clarified their political position without any hesitation in this regard. They consider any ideology or culture that conflicts with the politics of “Islamism” to be “anti-Islamic.” They are in favor of banning anything “anti-Islamic” with the help of state power.
Leaders and activists of the “Islamist” party have made it clear at various times that they do not believe in freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is a Western concept to them, which, if it exists, will create fitna or anarchy in the society. They believe in as much freedom of expression as possible, which is conducive to the development of their politics and political culture.
Political parties and organizations that do not contain their politics and culture, or are opposed to it, are not willing to be given any space by the “Islamist” parties, they have made this clear in various statements. They identify their political opponents as atheists, leftists, secularists, “Rampantis” (pro-Indians), Zionists, and Anglo-American agents. They think that none of them should have the right to make political statements or engage in politics. Because, according to them, they are all enemies of religion, country and people.
Nowhere in the region of Iraq-Syria, including Iran and Afghanistan, has it been or is under the control of “Islamist” groups or armed groups. No “Islamist” party in Bangladesh has ever made a statement or held a rally saying that there should be freedom of expression and politics in all those places. On the contrary, they have been supporting all the activities of the “Islamists” there in various ways.
“Islamist” politics originated and developed in opposition to leftist politics. But at the same time they are greatly influenced by the organizational policies, strategies, etc. of communist politics, especially Stalinist communist politics.
The essence of Stalinist politics is that those who are not communists should have no space in the state system. In one category or another, they are “reactive” and the main obstacle to building socialism. Therefore, the formation of a socialist state
The basic condition is to eliminate them. Many thinkers, including Noam Chomsky, believe that Lenin himself laid the groundwork for such politics.
Over time, with a few exceptions, almost all left-wing parties in the world have moved away from Stalinist politics, but the “Islamist” parties have taken no initiative to extricate themselves from the situation. They think that a “religion-based state” cannot be established without eliminating their political opponents. Pluralism is the main obstacle to the establishment of a “religion-based state”. As a result, they see the Digital Security Act as a helpful law in advancing their politics.
In contrast to the “Islamist” parties, most of the leftist parties in the world, including Bangladesh, have moved away from the place of the former leftist party and have become mainly liberal or social democrat. They are all inclined to restrict freedom of expression as much as possible.
This trend has intensified among the left since the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, since the time of the Soviet Union, the left parties of many countries in Western Europe and Latin America have been following this trend. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, most of the left parties in the world are now following this trend.
The left movement of this trend was once called Euro Communism, New Left, New Marxism etc. The essence of this movement is that it is possible to bring about socialist transformation of the state through democratic practice and the socialist state is more democratic than the capitalist state.
However, many people think that even if it is called New Left, New Marxism, etc., it is actually going back to the original philosophy of Marx. Because the essence of Marxism is not only the rich class, but also to build a social structure in which all people can express their views equally. That structure will ensure an environment of practice and development of all kinds of cultures, not just one.
So theoretically leftist ideology is interested in seeing the coexistence of different strands of political ideology and diverse culture in a state or believes in pluralism. In fact, this indicates the qualitative difference between the politics of “Islamism” and the politics of the left. Another qualitative difference is that the left parties and organizations of all denominations are secular in practice and ideology.
Whatever the position of their political party, most of the young left political activists in Bangladesh also hold the ideology of Euro Communism or New Left. But the difference they have with the West is that they are not willing to give any space to religion-based politics. Most leftists are in favor of a complete ban on the use of religion in politics with the help of state power.
After Mushtaq’s death, activists of the Left Student Organization organized a funeral in Mushtaq’s absence. At the heart of this is their political position, that is, religion and politics are two separate fields and these two cannot be united in any way. This challenge comes mainly from some workers of different left organizations.
Surprised to meet this challenge, the left activists who organized the janaza said that it was not a religious but a political program. But it scored more goals. Some non-Muslim left activists questioned whether they could lead the program if it was a political one.
When Bangabandhu constitutionally declared Bangladesh a secular state, he too had to face such a challenge. Those who were known as the extreme left, including Badruddin Umar, questioned why Bangabandhu would perform Jumma prayers or janaza prayers if the state was secular.
By raising such questions, these leftists basically supported the politics of “Islamists” and Muslim nationalism. These leftists had the same idea about secular doctrine. That is to say, like the “Islamists”, they also thought that secularism meant atheism. This, of course, is not surprising. In his book The Childhood Disorder of the Left, Lenin shows why the extreme left is actually right and why they are so close to the right.
At present, a large section of the left in Bangladesh is in a kind of ambiguity about the relationship between secularism and religion. It is not clear to many what the relationship between these two issues should look like.
As a result of the constant propaganda of “Islamists” and Muslim nationalists, many of the leftists confuse secularism and atheism. As a result, they think that if they are members of a left-wing political party, they should probably not do any religious work in a public place.
The key to a secular state is that the state will ensure equal opportunity for all citizens, regardless of religion, to practice their religion. The state will patronize all religions equally. The state will not identify with any particular religion or patronize just one religion. Again, if one does not want to practice any religion, he will have that freedom in a secular state. The state will not force him to practice any particular religion. In a secular state, a person’s religious identity will not interfere with his or her right to work, trade or engage in politics.
But at the same time, this does not mean that people associated with the state and government cannot or will not practice religion in public places according to their own beliefs. For example, in a secular state, in a government office, one can perform prayers or milads if one wishes, while others can pray according to the rules of their religion. Everyone will have equal freedom and rights to pray or not to pray. This is a simple matter in the leftist and secular ideology of Bangladesh
Believers have failed to understand a large section of the population in the last fifty years.
Leaders and activists of the Left are fighting for a secular state that includes people of all faiths, as opposed to religious sectarianism. They have been fighting since 1947 to ensure equal freedom of religion for all people.
Now it depends on how sincere they are in this fight, whether they can ensure the freedom or environment of their leaders to practice their religion according to their own beliefs. Their role in the fight to build a secular Bangladesh of tomorrow is related to this issue.
Unlike religion-based parties, left-wing political parties are not groups of believers or non-believers in any particular religion. Religious groups want to represent believers in just one religion. Wants to keep women away from team leadership. On the other hand, leftists want to represent all men / women who believe / disbelieve in religion.
It should be noted here that the observance of religious rules and the use of religion as a tool to achieve political goals are not the same thing. Religion-based parties use religion as a means to achieve political goals.
On the other hand, the left political parties are struggling to ensure the right of all people to bread, ruji as well as equal right to practice their religion. In fact, the main reason for not being able to reach out to the larger population is the failure to explain it to the people in the right way.
Since Mushtaq was a believer in Islam, it is only natural that leftists who believe in Islam should perform janaza to bid him farewell. Although it is a political program, it is also a religious program.
As a leftist political activist, he should not have any problem participating in or organizing religious programs. Such was not the case with Comrade Mani Singh’s funeral according to Hindu religion or the huge funeral prayers of Mohammad Farhad.
Neither Mani Singh nor Farhad was an atheist. At various times in their lives, they have been seen participating in religious ceremonies or observing religious rites.
The aim and purpose of communist or leftist political parties is not to build a movement or public opinion for or against any religious opinion. Their goal is to build a state that radically changes the structure of the state, which will ensure the basic human rights and democratic rights of the people. According to them, the precondition for ensuring the democratic rights of all is to ensure the economic equality or equality of all people so that the existing rich-poor inequality in the society is eliminated.
The leftists think that a state will become a real democracy only if this inequality is eliminated through the abolition of class. And in order to prevent such a state from being established, the ruling class uses religion for political purposes to confuse and divide the people or to create a false consciousness about society in Marx’s language. The main purpose of this is not to protest against their oppression and misrule but to aim at something different. The struggle of the leftists is against this abuse of religion.
The main goal of secular nationalism, which was formed against the Muslim nationalism of the Pakistan period, was to ensure equal rights for all people to practice their religion. One of the main goals of the war of liberation, secular Bangladesh could not be built even after fifty years of independence.
The long-running debate in Bangladesh is about the role and space of religious parties in a secular state. Religious groups have not been banned in any of the secular democracies, including neighboring India and Turkey. In those countries, it is thought that once democracy is institutionalized, whichever party comes to power, if the people do not want it, they will have to step down in the next election.