India and Bangladesh: Religious Hardships

The heart wrenching nature of how Muslims regularly get preyed on by Hindus in India, is a very different reality to the peaceful existence, which Muslims and Hindus share on a daily basis in Bangladesh

Religious violence, sometimes even bordering on persecution of people religiously different from the Hindu-majority in India is a decades-old barbaric national story. In neighbouring Bangladesh, there has never been any major problem with religious violence, or the inability of ethnic minorities to get along in a predominantly Muslim nation.

Even when conflicts arose between Hindus and Muslims, it would happen during the darkest phases of Bangladesh’s political history, where the entirely wrong set of people were in power, with their vital connections to terrorism and Pakistan – that political period, which largely aimed to taint Bangladesh’s democracy, no longer prevails. It has been many years since democracy has prevailed instead, since the early nineties in fact and the democratic situation in Bangladesh is a lot better than many countries in the world, such as Nepal, Thailand, Morocco, Pakistan, Egypt and Cambodia.

It is always the wrong sets of people, wishing to appeal to fundamentalism, who attack Hindus in Bangladesh, and it is so hard to not connect these various sets of people as those reliant on Pakistan, or maybe even Sri Lanka, given the two nations’ very bad track record on dealing with homegrown terrorism or homegrown terrorist groups. For India, however, which has had the fortune of successive governments working in favour of democracy in the country, persecution of Muslims has wrongfully been directed by political parties, such as Shiv Sena or the Bhartiya Janata Party, which helmed by Narendra Modi is in power. It is not just that because the state seemingly also has been unable to do a lot to ease Hindu-Muslim tensions in India – it has heinously occurred plenty of times already.

Whenever communal conflict happens in India between Hindus and Muslims, it is always the Muslims who pay a very heavy price – many people even lose their lives. These episodes of violence have made Muslims in India retreat into a ghetto form of living, which first of all is not helping with integration matters with the rest of the population of India built of numerous religions, from Hinduism to Sikhism. Following that up is the reality that these ghettos have made it simpler for rioting parties to prey on Muslims because it is a known fact that many Muslims live in those particular areas of India.

The only source of comfort in these troubling times is perhaps the fact that the situation in India isn’t as bad as in Pakistan, whose population is mostly built up of Muslims. In Pakistan, ethnic violence, with regards to Hindus is horrific: rising homegrown extremism often persecute Hindus, Christians, etc. in the country; the West has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban, an extremist political movement headquartered in Pakistan but the state does nothing but deny involvement. Intolerance and awful prejudice towards Hindus in Pakistan is a reality in Pakistan and it’s particularly widespread – they are often called ‘miserly’. Perhaps this intolerance towards Hindus (in Pakistan) should be looked upon as a lesson on how much a South Asian country can really deteriorate. Meanwhile, the harmonity with which Hindus and Muslims exist in Bangladesh is a part of the nation’s societal fabric: Hindus (in Bangladesh) practice much of the religious customs of Hindus in West Bengal (in India), which aren’t very much different from the religious practices of Hindus across India.

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