The attack on four houses of Ahmadiyya Muslims by supporters of three Islamist organisations in Ahmednagar village of Panchagarh Sadar upazila on February 12 reminds us, once again, that the scourge of communalism is very much present in our society. Their demand that Ahmadiyyas be declared non-Muslim reminds us of the plight of this small Shia sect in another Muslim country. Although we welcome the deployment of police and BGB units in the village, there is no question of giving in to demands of religious zealots.
The vandalism of property is a direct message to members of this community that they are not safe on Bangladeshi soil. They are citizens of the country, and as such, enjoy the protection of the State. While deploying security forces in the vicinity may give these vulnerable people momentary reprieve from further violence, it does not solve the problem. We would like to know precisely how these so-called Islamist organisations can challenge the very fabric of communal harmony that is synonymous with our way of life and why the State cannot ban these outfits and arrest those responsible for the attack.
We have witnessed the ugly head of communal forces over the years, ranging from the desecration of Buddhist holy sites in Ramu to the massacre of innocents in the Holey Artisan Café attack in 2016. There is no question of giving in to demands of religious extremists and the latest arson attack must be shown the same zero-tolerance that has been the government's policy in dealing with terrorist acts.