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Let free thinkers be our thinkers

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In circumstances Dr Zafar Iqbal was attacked we cannot be sure about the motive behind the unfortunate incident. But he is known as a free thinker and needed special police protection from the government for threats on his life issued by religious groups. Some of such free thinkers lost their lives also allegedly in the hands of religious fanatics for their anti-Islam views.

The Muslims understand the reaction from oversensitive Muslims on religious matters and certainly do not support extremism to be met by extremism. But it is puzzling why the free thinkers, as they call themselves, should as a matter of priority come into clash with Islam. There are so many important issues affecting our life and liberty for genuine free thinkers to worry about and get engaged.

A free thinker is defined as a person who thinks freely and forms opinion on the basis of reason independently. But it is not free thinking that their views should be inflicted on others or calculated to incite violence. He is free to reject any dogma or be skeptical about any religion. Surely, insulting or provocative views cannot be reasoned thinking. It should be easier for a free thinker to tolerate other people’s free beliefs and opinions. He cannot rationally claim any superior right over others to be disrespectful of their thinking and beliefs.

If the free thinkers claim free thinking as a right then they must know that all rights have limits. So no social being can claim to be a free thinker for derogating other people's rights. No right can exist in absolute sense. According to an American scholar Mary Ann Glendon such conception is an illusion of absoluteness. She may not be a great scholar but it makes sense if one has to live in peace along with others.

There is no justification for disagreeing that religion is a matter of faith and speaks of divine knowledge. One either believes or does not believe. I cannot see how a reasoned research is called for on matters of faith, more particularly, by non-believers.

To serious thinkers, free or unfree, I would emphasise that our obstacle for peace and progress is not our religion. It is mono-polistic greed for power and wealth. The independence we have achieved at an immense price is proving hollow for millions due to the indifference of the thoughtful ones who could make a difference. It is a political dogma of authoritarianism which makes them support any failing undemocratic governance and wait for their downfall in shambles.

The country is under a kind of class rule where democracy and democratic tolerance are fast disappearing. The spirit of the liberation war to them is their inherent right to rule the country the way they like. The millions do not count.

We do not hear enough voices loud enough to know  what the free thinkers of our country think of such important issues like independence of the country or freedom of the people. Or even about using unfettered power for unfettered corruption. Even lies by the government for hiding failures do not bother them. What bothers is Islam and not the people’s welfare.    

Nobody can disagree that hateful or insulting views against Islam is a violation of universal religious right of others and cannot be justified by calling himself a free thinker.

Intolerance to religion is leftist politics under the godless system of socialism. In communist ideology no free thinking is tolerated. So if anybody wants to preach leftist politics, let him do so openly. Free thinking should not be an act deception.

It is a contradiction in terms that free thinking does not believe in free speech of others. In our situation free speech is hazardous. It is the bloggers who hurt our people’s religious sentiment, but our government is ready to provide special protection to them. This is right that one’s life should be protected. But same protection is not available to those who want to use their right of free speech.

The fundamentalist leftists in an emerging democracy use the slogan of free thinking to provoke religious extremism for creating social unrest to justify authoritarianism. The end game is to help the government deprive the people of their democratic rights and freedom. The way is left open for leftist dictatorship.

We should be extremely cautious about those who want to foment religious extremism in the name of free thinking in the knowledge how dangerous its ramifications could be. We can recall the blood of river that flowed in the Indonesia in an uprising of communism during Sukarno era.

We are known as a moderate Muslim country. Some religious fanatics exist among us. So does in all religions. But unless incited by extremism of the others we can rely on for peace and tolerance as guiding virtues of Islam.

So the believers of Islam must not be easily provoked by the bloggers.

It is said that in Bangladesh the bloggers who have been found spreading spite against Islam in one form or the other are all leftist non-believers. No Islamist attacked any one for being a non-believer. They also accept that religion is a matter of personal choice.

In the past the people’s of all religions lived together happily. It is after Bangladesh became an independent country that some who came from India are anxious to see Islam as a target of attack. They were stigmatising Muslims as communal and a problem for communal harmony. They are partners of the government and they get special protection from the government. They claim to be freedom fighters with no respect for others freedom.

The main unhappiness of the general public is that some bloggers to be part of them follow the Western pattern of vilifying Islam. To them disparaging Islam is a convenient way to be recognised in the West as intellectually progressive.

We discourage the leftist extremism as much as we condemn violence in the name of Islam. We want free thinkers not to serve others as stooges but be the free thinkers for us and for our freedom.

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