EDITORIAL: Stand by the minorities

the Editorial Desk in Dhaka/The Daily Star
Asia News Network

Dhaka (The Daily Star/ANN) - In these very columns, and very recently, we had urged caution against any attempt to spawn religious disharmony. Regrettably, stray incidents have escalated to the extent that leads us to believe that there is a deep-rooted conspiracy in marking out a specific minority group at this time. It is regrettable that condemnation from the government has at best been muted while it has come three days too late from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) through the statement of the party Chairman.

It is regrettable that in more than 14 districts, the minorities have been targeted, their houses burnt and they have been left at the mercy of nature. We want to ask a simple and straightforward question. Why are the minorities being targeted? Are they an encumbrance to any one's political aim? The world will judge us by how we treat our minorities. What has happened in the last three days does grave damage to the nation's credibility as a country of religious harmony.

It is contemptible for anyone to conceive of such an act, and if it is a political strategy this will deeply affect the very fundamentals on which we fought and liberated the country. Those who are perpetrating violence against the minorities are certainly not friends of Bangladesh, because these may have wider international ramifications.

Bangladesh could justifiably take pride in the fact that it has enjoyed a harmonious atmosphere where all communities and people of all faiths have coexisted peacefully, barring a few aberrant situations, the present being one that must be addressed immediately.

The matter concerns the nation and not just the party in power, since ill effects of unchecked violence on the minorities will engulf the nation and not any one particular party. It is thus imperative that we cut across party lines and unite to stop this madness and anarchy.