Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday cautioned the countrymen against the reappearance of fanaticism, saying her government was determined to prevent any attempt to use religion as a ‘political weapon’ to create social unrests.
‘Don’t use religion as a political tool . . . we will not allow anyone to create any anarchy or division in this country in the name of religion,’ she said in her nationwide televised address marking Victory Day.
Sheikh Hasina said a section of defeated forces of 1971 reappeared in the political landscape to mislead ordinary pious Muslims with concocted and confusing messages to create social unrests to return the country to a situation which the nation overcame 50 years ago.
She said being patronised by a political quarter, these elements even dared to show their red eyes to the government though Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had warned the nation against the use of religion as a political weapon many decades ago.
‘The people of Bangladesh are pious, not religious bigots . . . the people of this country will proceed towards progress, advancement and development upholding the religious values,’ the premier said in an apparent reference to a recently launched move by a quarter against sculpture.
She added: ‘Let us not trample the Liberation War’s spirit of non-communalism . . . let us not forget our debt to tens of thousands of martyrs.’
The premier reminded all that the country’s independence came in exchange of bloods of the followers of all faiths — Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians and added that Bangladesh still carried the heritage of liberal spirituality, culture and pluralism.
‘This Bangladesh is the land of Lalon Shah, Rabindranath, Kazi Nazrul, Jibonanda . . . This Bangladesh is the Bangladesh of Shahjalal, Shah Paran, Shah Makhdum and Khanjahal Ali; this is a land of 16 and a half crores of Bengalis — this country belongs to all,’ Sheikh Hasina said.
She particularly urged the youths and new generations to uphold the spirit and not forget the ‘sacrifices of your forefathers’.
Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prime minister said not only Bangladesh, the entire world has been suffering due to the lethal disease which has put a huge negative impact on health management alongside economy.
Pointing out that the economy of many developed and emerging countries has registered a negative growth in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, she said Bangladesh has been able to tackle its negative impact by taking timely and appropriate measures.
‘Our foreign currency reserve has exceeded US$ 41 billon despite the pandemic,’ she added.
Mentioning that country’s GDP growth registered 5.24 percentages in the last fiscal, the premier said several international organisations forecast that Bangladesh’s economic growth in 2020 would be the highest in South Asia.
Sheikh Hasina said development work of different mega projects has been going on in full swing, and all the spans of the Padma Bridge have already been installed.
‘We’ll celebrate the 50th anniversary of our independence next year, and if the coronavirus pandemic goes away, the Golden Jubilee of our independence will be celebrated with due enthusiasm and jubilation alongside the programmes marking the birth centenary of the father of the nation,’ she added.
Noting that today’s Bangladesh is not an economically-fragile nation, she said the country is now self-reliant economically. ‘Now, 97 per cent of the fiscal budget are met by own financing and this Bangladesh is not depended on anybody,’ she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a genuine Muslim and he used to practice all religious rituals.
Like Bangabandhu, nobody else could understand the mentality-thinking-desire of Bangla’s people, she said, adding: ‘That is why when he wrote the constitution, the four main principals – Bangali nationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism – of governing the state were adopted reflecting the expectation and wish of people.’
The prime minister said what the secular Mujib did for spreading and protecting the Islamic values, the governments camouflaged in the name of Islam did not do that.
‘Banning liquor-gambling-horse race through enacting law and establishing Islamic Foundation and Madrasa Board as well as becoming OIC member were done by the Bangabandhu within three years and six months after the independence,’ she said.
‘What my government has done in spreading Islamic education in the country, no other governments did it in the past,’ she added.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Politics