Friday 18th Jan 2019
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The Politics of Protest

Editorial

Protest is an acknowledged right in a democracy. But like any other right, the right to protest is not absolute and unconditional. We can protest an injustice or wrong policy of the government and make the powers-that-be acknowledge and fulfil the grievances provided they are genuine. But nowadays we see protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Bangladesh being exploited as political game-plans to serve the vested interests much against the popular demands of democracy.

Two years after the 25 January 2011 revolution that brought the 60-year-old dictatorial regime to an end, Egypt is still in the phase of democratic transition. During these two turbulent years the popular leader of Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed Morsi was declared the first civilian president and the Morsi administration accomplished many achievements, the most important being the promulgation of the constitution, foiling national and international conspiracies to thwart the process. Now when the constitution, which is pro-people and pro-minorities, is in force and fresh parliamentary elections are scheduled to be declared, the same anti-Islam forces led by Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei that had opposed the passage of the constitution are now creating violence and lawlessness and staging protests to halt the electoral process.

In Tunisia, which provided the impetus to mass revolution now known as Arab Spring in many Gulf countries, protests are being staged to oppose the Islamic regime led by Ennahdha. Following the killing of a leftist leader Chokri Belaid, the secular forces have taken to the streets to blame the Islamists and demand the Ennahdha-led government to go while the Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi sees the stable future of the country only in moderate Islamist-secular coalition in government. As in Egypt, in Tunisia too protests are demanding the regime change without testing the ground in the electoral battle. This is against the popular will of the people in these countries.

In Bangladesh we see protests most often turning violent and claiming innocent lives. Shahbag, the ‘Tahrir Square of Dhaka’, is witnessing violent protests almost on daily basis. The Chatra League, the student wing of ruling Awami League, along with police are killing members of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chatra Shibir at will during these protests. The demands of protesters at Shahbag to ban the BJI and Shibir are undemocratic and uncalled for. Threatening Amar Desh Editor Mahmudur Rahman and distinguished intellectuals Dr. Pias Karim and Professor Dr. Asif Nazrul with the intimidation of ‘finishing off’ and ‘skinning’, and slogans like ‘hang them, hang them’ or ‘behead them, behead them’ that are coming out of Shahbag are very disturbing signs. The United Nations needs to intervene to prevent the lurking catastrophe in the subcontinent.



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