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Extremist Upsurge in Bangladesh Politics

By Rajendra Prasad Patel

Bangladesh is the third largest Muslim populated country in the world and is known for its strongly secular and syncretic culture, robust socioeconomic growth, booming trade and worker remittances, and among the most success- ful rural credit networks in the world. But the country is facing severe chal- lenges from violent Islamist groups because the role of Islam in Bangladeshi politics is high contested, and it has been a focal point, and polarized political climate and institutional repression of Islamic parties have enhanced radicalization dynamics and country has become an emerging breeding ground for violent extremism. Over the past years, 30 people belonging to minority communities, mainly Hindu have been murdered by machete wielding radi- cals. They had also not spared Muslim secular writers, publishers, and bloggers for raising their voices against extremist ideology. These murders accompa- nied the startling news of ISIS recruiters arrested in Dhaka. Bangladesh has a long history of political and electoral violence that have shaped its political culture, protest, boycott and intense oppositional politics are defining a fea- ture of Bangladesh‘s authoritarian and democratic era. The two political events are closely interconnected for the recent rise of violent extremism in Bangladesh, first, the elimination of the caretaker government and secondly, implementation of the war crime tribunal. And that has led to political con- flict between the Awami League (AL), and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has resulted in high level of violence and brutal state response. This paper will analyze the major causes of the rise of extremist groups and democratic governance, and inclusive politics can help mitigate the risk of rising extrem- ism in Bangladesh.

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