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Terror in the name of religion

To my mind, there’s no other land as beautiful as Sri Lanka; it is the first country that I had visited outside Bangladesh and a country that I have visited several times in my life. I always found the Sri Lankan people to be most hospitable and friendly. It is the land that evokes various kinds of inspirations in me — to adopt it as my second home.
My heart goes out to all Sri Lankans — Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, people belonging to all religions — as Sri Lanka has shown over the centuries that, despite foreign hegemony in their land, they found a way to live together with all major faiths.
I have been there several times when the Sri Lankan government was fighting a war against the separatists. That separatist war wasn’t a homegrown one as far as we know; it was also a foreign-imposed war. Despite the civil war, the Sri Lankan government had its own unique way to make the common people safe. As a foreign national, I never felt insecure even during the war.
The war ended in 2009, and the country was trying its best to recover what it lost. The Sri Lankans did their best and became successful to a great extent. But someone out there doesn’t want to see Sri Lanka peaceful, or for that matter, the region, peaceful. I might have felt safe during the war, but with the unexpected serial bombings now, I would think twice to visit the country.
The war on terror has been going on for a while now, but no tangible improvement has so far been achieved since it started about two decades ago. After Christchurch, Sri Lanka has been targeted for the atrocities on humanity.
Initially, the entire world had pinned the blame on a lesser-known terrorist group named National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ). This group reportedly has multiple links to foreign countries. If the links are identified, it would be easier to confirm who were behind the attacks. According to global policy analysis think-tank Eurasia Future, this group trains in Chennai in Tamil Nadu — the same location where LTTE previously trained, which is an interesting piece of information.
Despite terror group IS’s claim that they were responsible for the attack, the details of this piece of information are yet to be known. And when this IS comes in to the scene, many eyebrows can be raised as far as the authenticity of the claim.
It’s quite easy to claim and be blamed. The claim is that the Sri Lanka attack was in retaliation to the Christchurch mosques attacks.
Here in Bangladesh on social media, questions have also been raised against all religions, especially Islam. Almost anybody and everybody has been criticizing the religions for their radical psychologies.
I too have some observations about this issue. I’ve read the history of a few religions in recent times. I have a feeling, by reading the history of those religions, the humans [read: Prophets] who first introduced religion did so from a deeply spiritual point of view. At that time, religion was a vehicle to free humans from various kinds of sufferings as well as class discriminations.
However, as soon as the religious leaders, the prophets, passed away, the religions they had introduced changed their course in terms of values they upheld. They became ubiquitously political; they became tools for suppressing various groups of people across the world. They became the tools for a section of humans for staying in power.
To my mind, the people or groups engaged in killing humans in the name of religion are not actually religious. They are simply serving a non-religious purpose — a purpose that is not Godly, a purpose which is imbued with criminal intent.
The world is now clearly infested with religion-related atrocities. This, I believe, has also been a failure of present-day religious leaders. You haven’t been preaching the right kind of religion, as some groups of people have started violently deviating from the core values of the religion. It is indeed a human failure.
At the same time, some may say that it may not altogether be a failure of the religious leaders. Maybe the secular leaders across the world don’t want the core values of the religions to be upheld; maybe they have other agendas at hand.
However, in the present-day global scenario, it is the foremost responsibility of the religious leaders to rise up to the occasion and start preaching the right kind of values of their respective religions.
First published in Dhaka Tribune.

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