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Bangladesh fails to control hidden radicalism

The country's image as a pluralistic society is threatened by religious extremists

Bangladesh fails to control hidden radicalism

Islamist activists protest in Dhaka on Oct. 21, a day after deadly clashes following a Facebook post that allegedly defamed the Prophet Muhammad. The failure to punish extremists threatens religious harmony. (Photo by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP)

An unusual but most welcome calm prevailed at Borhanuddin in Bhola district of southern Bangladesh on Oct. 20.

Tensions had run high in the area over two days, involving the Muslim majority but also a handful of Hindus, over a Facebook messenger post that defamed Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

A radical Islamic group, Touhidi Janata (Movement for Islamic Uprising), vowed to avenge the “hurtful religious sentiments” and declared a mass protest gathering on Oct. 20.  

Biplob Chandra Shuvo, a Hindu man, was in the eye of the storm for allegedly spreading the messages. He told police on Oct. 19 that his account had been hacked and two Muslims were quickly arrested for the crime, allegedly carried out for the purpose of extortion.

Police engaged with Muslim clerics to assure them that action was being taken and asked them to cancel the impending gathering to avoid likely violence.

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