Popular film and TV actor Chanchal Chowdury faced a flurry of abuse and communal comments, including calls to convert to Islam, after posting a photo with his mother on Facebook for Mother’s Day.
Many Bangladeshis were not aware that their favorite actor was Hindu, and were ‘astonished’ to see his mother’s photo where she could be seen sporting sindoor (vermillion, a red powder that is applied as a streak along the parting of a married Hindu woman’s hair).
Bangladeshi columnist Masum Billah writes –
“Have you read the comments on actor Chanchal Chowdury’s Mother’s Day photo posted on Facebook?
If not, let me tell you, it was a gracious photo of Chanchal and his mother smiling – a beautiful mother-son moment. What do we expect after posting a picture like this? It is a tribute to our mothers on a special day. So, we hope our friends and followers would wish us well.
But skim through Chanchal’s comment thread…Looking at her mother’s vermillion, some were ‘astonished’ that their favourite actor was Hindu, some asked him to convert to Islam, while others did not hesitate to call him names.
If you are surprised to see such communal hatred among a quarter of our people, these scathing attacks are not the first of their kind. Thanks to social media, the ugly side of our society is now often exposed here and there.
Besides frequent vandalism of Hindu properties and temples, we often see on social media how people of other faiths, including Hindus, Ahmadiyya Muslims, non-believers etc. are targeted and dehumanised by a group of fanatics.
You are a celebrity, Shakib Al Hasan, for example, and your wife doesn’t cover her head; these fanatics will prey on you. Remember what happened when Shakib joined the inauguration program of Kali Puja in Kolkata? Based on rumours that he inaugurated the Kali Puja, Shakib faced a death threat in Bangladesh.
Have you seen cricketer Mustafizur Rahman’s recent photo with his wife and Shakib that he posted while returning from the IPL? Visit Mustafizur’s comment box, you will see people taking Shakib to task for not making his wife cover her head like Mustafizur’s wife covered. This crowd pokes their eager noses almost anywhere and everywhere, as they please.
Or do you remember, long back, how they attacked Liton Das for posting Puja greetings on Facebook? These people telling him that Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country and uploading Puja photos is an offence….
…it is clear we as a society are not doing enough to spread tolerance and awareness among all sections of our people. The lack or absence of efforts to create awareness, tolerance, and a sense of respect for individual choices among these people is seriously alarming.
Politicians and the religious leaders in the country could take initiatives to educate people and followers of their respective faiths and ideologies on the values of tolerance. But we have so far hardly seen them come out in creating awareness and tolerance. Even though, sadly, instances are abundant of these leaders sometimes playing a role in inciting the mob.
…Chanchal Chowdhury himself did not get cornered in despair. He came out bold, advised them not to worry about his religion, and become a human instead.”
However, in a demonstration of how even liberal well-meaning Muslims living in Muslim-majority countries can harbor delusions and look at their society with rose-tinted glasses vis-a-vis a Hindu or Buddhist-majority one, the columnist Masum Billah writes that Bangladesh is a ‘secular country and an inclusive society’! He claims that ‘standing up for the right cause is a strength of this society that has played its role in protecting Bangladesh from any serious communal conflict in modern times – unlike our neighbouring countries’.
Bangladesh’s Constitution establishes Islam as the state religion. Religious minorities, with Hindus forming the largest minority group, are religiously persecuted and institutionally discriminated. The result shows in the population of Hindus which has been steadily declining from 13.5% after the country was formed in 1971, to under 9% as per the last census carried out many years back.
As per research concluded in 2016 by Professor Abul Barakat of Dhaka University, at the ongoing rate of exodus (2.3 lakhs per year) there will be no Hindus left in Bangladesh after 30 years (2046). Targeted attacks on Hindus to grab their land, desecrate their temples, and defile their women are an everyday occurrence in Bangladesh! As per statistics compiled by Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mohajote in Jan 2021, even despite the pandemic lockdowns, atrocities against Bangladeshi Hindus rose 29% in 2020 with over 40,000 incidents logged – 149 killed, 53 raped, 7,036 injured, 2623 forcibly converted, 370 murtis vandalised.
Or maybe its just early indoctrination against Hindus and non-Muslims that makes even liberal South Asian Muslims believe that howsoever bad the situation in their country, it can’t possibly be better in Bharat. A legitimate demand to establish Bharat as the one and only country with Hindu Dharma as the state religion is deemed ‘communal and extremist’, by those living in 71 countries where Islam or Christianity is the state or preferred religion!
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