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16th-Apr-2016

Helping anti-Muslim bloggers is no help for freedom of expression

By MAINUL HOSEIN

Media reports on Wednesday disclosed that the US government has expressed concern over the danger that threatens Bangladesh's internal security and particularly the safety of bloggers in the country.The US government has also offered humanitarian shelter to Bangladesh's endangered bloggers and advised them to file their requests for shelter from the US government.Deputy spokesperson of US States Department Mark Toner said in a press briefing on April 11 that "…for some of these individuals who are under what we believe is imminent danger, they can pursue under those circumstances a request from the Department of Homeland Security to consider something we call humanitarian parole." It is not unknown to America that Bangladesh is not an extremist Muslim country. But that does not mean our people do not take their religion seriously.It is becoming clear that those who condemn our religion do so to get help from Western countries like the United States and Germany. One such unemployed religious blogger Mohiuddin is now enjoying scholarship in some unknown institute and being well looked after. Now America is offering openly staying facilities to the bloggers who undermine our religion and who do not believe in any religion. It is no secret that those sick minded bloggers are getting encouragement from some Western countries as anti-Islam campaigners.These bloggers do not care for human rights or press freedom. They do not bother to express concern about preventing abduction, killing and rape being committed every now and then treating the people as most helpless. The problem of politicised police for the rule of law and violation of human rights does not worry these free thinkers. They may be free thinkers  for uncaringly spreading religious hatred.The jihadists are also free thinkers in the sense they also believe in freely killing those who denigrate their religion. The right thinking ones should treat religious extremists and anti-religious bloggers as equally bad and condemnableWe have organised human rights NGOs for speaking up for human rights issues and gender equality. Only the Islam hating bloggers provoke retaliation and create social tension. Our own people are restless about their democratic rights. It is no help to our demand for true democracy to give protection to the anti-Muslim hate traders who divert attention from the people's demand for genuine democracy and freedoms that go with it.It is an open secret that Islamic extremists are targeting the bloggers because of their regular propaganda in social media network spreading venom   against Islamic faith and values. Propagating hatred either in the name of religion or as non-believers is not a right under freedom of speech.We feel deeply frustrated by the wrong policy the US government has been pursuing for too long a period in conjunction with Israel and other enemies of Islam. We have been condemning the killing of anti-Islam bloggers as we do not defend other killers. But the present American policy proposal will be seen as an encouragement to anti-Islam bloggers to be more active. The enjoying of American hospitality promised by the US government should be an attraction for many unemployed youths. The other way of looking at the proposal is to allure young men and women, not their own, to risk their lives for a cause that does not affect them in anyway.It is a big disappointment for those who are looking for international cooperation for democracy to know that America is flagging in it's abiding faith that it is through democracy extremism can be best contained. Now the USA is empowering the haters of Islam on the one hand and then giving up the cause of democracy for fighting Islamist terrorists. It is the extreme Islam haters like Israeli government and irresponsible bloggers who have been contributing to move America away from the ideals of great America. The policy of protecting Islam haters is ultimately endangering the world peace.In Bangladesh, the main problem is uprooting of   democracy for replacing it by authoritarianism of a socialist kind. The problem is not that religious extremists are finding foothold in Bangladesh. That the political antagonism and intolerance making violence an everyday matter is a reality. An outburst appears inevitable. Apprehending religious fanaticism as a threat to security is not realistic if we know how to put our politics right.Because of this   wrong policy of not trusting democratic governance but trusting police power terrorism is growing in Bangladesh. The newspapers are filled everyday with news of brutal killings, rape and secret or forced disappearances. Not only the bloggers are brutally killed. But the bloggers have no concern about the human rights violations or the need of good governance. They do not behave like our people concerned with our problems.America is a super power and rich but its commitment to establish peace through democracy is certainly weakening. It is horribly absurd for American policy makers to worry about protecting the enemies of Islam but ignoring human rights and the need of building democratic tolerance for real freedom of speech.America must continue to work as a driving power of democracy and give up supporting Muslim haters. Peace will not come through haters or by killing extremists of the present without thinking how to end the cause of terrorism among the Muslims. Democracy is the answer to extremism of the few and not the few bloggers who are isolated from the people. Now all authoritarian regimes are using fight against terrorism to bolster authoritarianism. It is like going back to the days of cold war era when America supported dictatorship to contain communism. That policies worked the wrong way. The Communism is collapsing for reasons inherent within communism and as an impact of globalisation.America's foreign policy is certainly faulty in depending more on its military power and not in the great ideals of democracy and freedom that it's founding fathers held up as a beacon of hope for freedom lovers the world over.