Of the Hefazat men killed yesterday, one was from the a factory in Dhaka. While not speaking with numbers, I think this highlights an important issue that many have been saying for some time. While we, with our elitist or middle class sensitivities, continue to look upon the Hefazatis as outlawed, faceless “fanatics” on the fringes (read: in the madrasas) in our society, they also live and work amongst us– our factory workers, our drivers and nightguards.
So, the Islamist problem is also a class issue, with solidarity that cuts across groups of different age and occupations. And you would be surprised, how many women believe in the rhetoric of segregation.
Please take note of this when you speak of them as the wretched of the earth.
If this is a reality that has roots in particular postcolonial and geo political histories also representing particular embodied practices and ways of being and living in the world, as uncomfortable or sick as it may make us, can we really reduce it to “lunacy to be anyhow stopped?”
After all, violence is not only an Islamist expression.
And I am wary of the long term effects of deploying thousands of armed forces to drive them out in the middle of the night. I don’t know that the solution is to throw them in jail. It is going to take much more time and energy than that.
If we keep the above in mind, what could long term strategies be? That should be an issue of the table.
For those of you who are reading this and saying I am exaggerating: that these fellows are insignificant in number, my question to you is:
Why bother to stall their march?
Why cheer victory then?
Who/what have we defeated and with what?
How does this play into our vision of a prosperous, progressive, democratic Bangladesh?
Samia Huq is an anthropologist and Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics and Social Science at BRAC University, Dhaka. She obtained her PhD from Brandeis University, USA, looking at women’s religious discussion groups in urban Bangladesh.