Woke Islamism in Bangladesh

A lot of people want to know how this new global religion called wokism affects Muslim countries. Since most of them live outside Muslim countries, even the ones with some knowledge on this do not have the first hand experience of an ex Muslim like me who lives here. Bangladesh should be one of the most interesting case studies on the topic. Bangladesh is the 8th most populous country and 4th largest in the list of countries with most Muslims. Bangladesh is unlike the other Desi neighbors of India because it’s one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As Pakistan has lost its way not just in economy but also in cricket, India vs Bangladesh matches generates more intensity than India vs Pakistan matches these days.

Bangladeshis or East Bengalis are people who have been fighting for their soul since last century. They have changed their shirts thrice in the span of last 100 years. Most people don’t know that the first person to start Wahhabi movement in India was a Bengali named Titumir, born in a clerical family in Chandpur region of Bangladesh, who was initially influenced by Syed Ahmed Barelvi. He is someone who should be loathed not just by Hindus but also by moderate section of Bengali Muslims, right? But up until recently it was the opposite that happened. Titumir was revered not just by all sections of Muslims but also by urban educated Bengali Hindus of West Bengal! Anyone who wants a little proof of it should look up now deceased Maheshweta Debi, a female Bengali leftist intellectual who wrote a novella as a tribute to Titumir in 2000. In her novella, she called Titumir “a champion of the subaltern cause”. It was in Dhaka where All India Muslim League was formed in 1906. It was the Bengali Muslim League leader A.K. Fazlul Haq who presented Pakistan resolution in Lahore in 1940. It was Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy who instigated the Great Calcutta Killing in 1946, the riot that culminated in break up of India in 1947 into Hindu majority secular India and Muslim majority Pakistan. After the creation of Pakistan, the very nation whose foundation was laid by Bengali Muslims, the East Bengalis despite being the majority population in then Pakistan (52%), found themselves in trouble when Pakistan government wanted to change the Indic writing script of Bengali into Perso-Arabic along with making Urdu the state lannguage of Pakistan. This incident led to language movement in 1952 and throughout 50s and 60s, Bengali Muslims experienced a great Bengali awakening. They started to feel being Bengali was just as important for them as being Muslim. This period is the reason why Ravindranath Tagore’s song was adopted as the national anthem of Bangladesh when they seperated from Pakistan in 1971. As due to global geopolitics, Pan-Islamism revived in this country after 1980s so to this date, it is fighting over what it truly is – whether being part of the global Muslim Ummat or being Indic/Bengali first.

Fast forward to 2015, a lot of atheist bloggers and free thinkers got killed in Bangladesh. The most renowned of those killed was Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American intellectual. After his death, some of the leading Bangladeshi intellectuals, academics and celebrities justified his murder. Among them the most prominent ones are Pinaki Bhattacharya (who lives in France now, the irony!), Salimullah Khan (an academic) and Mostafa Sarwar Farooqi  (This guy is one of the leading Bangladeshi film makers who also works in Kolkata’s industry and casted renowned Bollywood actor late Irrfan Khan in his movie “Doob”). Farooqi advised atheist bloggers not to satirize the life of Muhammad and instead cultivate vegetables to find meaning in life. You might wonder they are saying this because they are pious Muslims. But no they are not. They are either atheist or irreligious themselves. But they believe in the international identity politics and consider themselves part of the global liberal elite. So even though they themselves lead a Westernized lifestyle, they appease the Islamists in the country. So when they are rebuking atheist bloggers, they are not using conservative Islamist vocabulary. Instead they are using wokespeak or Liberal jargons like colonialism or structural racism. In their eyes, students of madrassas are the subaltern comrades and blasphemers are the agents of Western colonialism and Indian fascism. The same mistake that many Iranian communists made in 1979 and paid the price when Khomeni came to power. Most Bangladeshi so called leftists are the intellectual defenders of Pan-Islamism in this country.

Look at the sharp contrast with India. Unlike Bangladesh, most Indian academics or celebrities who call themselves leftists/postmodernists are against almost anything and everything Hindu. According to both the postmodernists from Kolkata and Dhaka, Ravindranath Tagore is a symbol of “Brahminical Patriarchy”. Some Bollywood celebrities see Hindu patriarchy everywhere but Hijab is feminism. Talking about that, very few Bengali Muslim girls used to wear Hijab back in 80s-90s even when the society was obviously more socially conservative back then. But today a lot of urban girls who get called “thots” by socially conservative zoomers put on the type of fashionable Hijab that gets promoted in the West. They are wearing this because even though it is a symbol of oppression, it gets promoted by the Western feminists. So they feel more comfortable with their Muslim identity than the Bengali one. The Indian Hindu on the other hand has to discard his/her culture to be fully accepted by the global woke. Don’t get me wrong. I am not speaking against people who leave Hinduism. I am speaking out against Western liberal hypocrisy. To the liberal woke global elite, Islam is the tool with which they deconstruct the white man’s world. A cultural Hindu immigrant on the other hand assimilates in Western societies, they have high academic and financial achievements and a lot of them support Republicans. So for them, Indian Hindus despite being brown have a white man problem that needs to be deconstructed and Muslims are model browns that can be used like pets.

Bangladesh today fights a form of Islamism that is not coming from Saudi Arabia, Iran or Pakistan but the one that is coming from UK, USA and Canada.

2021 anti Modi protests against the government led by Woke Leftists and Hefazat Islam