267. RELIGIOUS MILITANCY: THREAT TO PEACE, DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN SECURITY---SOUTH ASIAN PERSPECTIVE

267.

Panel Title            : RELIGIOUS MILITANCY: THREAT TO PEACE, DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN SECURITY---SOUTH ASIAN PERSPECTIVE

Convener              : Gyasuddin Molla

Chair                      : Gyasuddin Molla

Discussant           :

 

Panel Abstract    :

 

Religion appears, no doubt, as a political force in South Asia. Politics gains at the cost of religion. It is equally evident that religious militancy develops from the practice of using religion to achieve political gains. Political use of religion begets intolerance, hatred, jealousy and terrorism. All religions in the world advocate peace, tolerance and brotherhood. The powerful vested interests often associate it with violence. Religious extremism and violence have become almost two sides of a coin, and thus not only in South Asia, in other parts of the world too, religious violence is becoming endemic. All the major countries of South Asia have witnessed, over the past two decades, the rise of   dangerous forms of religious militancy and extremism. India has seen the rise of an extremist Hindu nationalism, Pakistan is seen to have promoted Islamic militancy and terrorism, Bangladesh has witnessed the increasing political influence of Islam which has taken radical shape and finally, Sri Lanka seems to have been torn apart by deadly conflict between extremist Buddhist nationalism and minority ethnic Tamil community of Hindu religion. The emergence of radical religious groups has plagued South Asian political landscape as most of these countries have worst records of religious extremism and militancy. The growing terrorism of religious militants has mounted crises of democracy in South Asian states. Terrorism in the region has emanated from extreme religio-political fundamentalism, from religious intolerance and from the cherished antagonism against secular, progressive and democratic ideals. The scourge of terrorism is alarmingly threatening peace and democracy and abusing human rights leading to critical human security situation. The scourge of terrorism perpetrated by the home-grown religio-political groups of Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka in contemporary period have disrupted peace, made critical prospects of democracy and the state of human security alarmingly in the region. It has become imperative to seek measures to quell domestic violent movements grown out of religious extremism. Growth of terrorism never remains confined within one's own territory but has international ramifications. It transcends geographical boundary. Religious militants captured power in Afghanistan, and now they have developed their tentacles in neighboring countries. The resultant terrorism of religio-political elements of South Asian region is sure to be a threat for countries of neighboring region. They might extend their dreadful claws across continents. The papers, in this panel, focusing on the present state of religious militancy in the countries of South Asia, will bring into focus the root causes of religious militancy in South Asia, will explore if the rise of religious fundamentalism (in both rich and poor countries) is purely religious inspired or if it is a result of autocracy, faulty system of education, lack of freedom of speech, poverty, depravation, and most of all human rights violation.

 

Participants         :

 

Muhammad Wildan

Paper Title            : Pondok Ngruki, The Centre Of Islamic Radicalism?: A Study On The

  Phenomena Of Islamic Radicalism In Solo, Indonesia

Abstract                :

Solo has been becoming the centre of some Islamic radical movements. History records that Solo is the heart of some Islamic radical movements such as Pondok Ngruki (1972-~), Usrah (1985), Jamaâ€TMah Islamiyah (1993-~), Front Pemuda Islam Surakarta, FPIS (1999-~), and Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (2000-~). Some other relatively small-scale Islamic radical organizations which also exist in the city strengthened my basic assumption that Solo is prolific for Islamic radical movements. Diverse ethnics, Chinese dominance in business, abangan Muslim majority, and political conduciveness are about the factors lying beneath the Solo society. Among the above variety of Islamic radicalism in Solo, Pondok Ngruki (Islamic boarding school) is the most well known institution not only on national but also on the international level. This phenomenal issue is due partly to the closely connected of some Islamic radical movements to Pondok Ngruki. Eventually, the most significant one is the involvement of some Pondok Ngruki graduates or affiliates in some bombings such as Bali bombings I (2002) and Bali Bombing II (2005), Marriot Hotel bombing (2003) and also Australian Embassy bombing (2005). Since then many people, politicians, and researchers are curious about the boarding school and they are trying to observe closely about the institution. Many of them, however, are failed to reveal any true information about the boarding school and, finally, they jumped to the conclusion that Pondok Ngruki is a nest of terrorists. Based on the above fact, this paper is going to investigate the existence of Pondok Ngruki as significant phenomena of Islamic radicalism in Solo. Finally, the research on this issue would answer the question of why the graduates of Pondok Ngruki are radicals and whether this boarding school is a nest of terrorists.

Ferdous Jahan

Paper Title            : Islamic Fundamentalism in Bangladesh: A Quest for the Root

Abstract                :

August 17, 2005. Bangladesh experienced never thought-of countrywide bomb explosions. The whole country stood still in astonishment for a while. Then the law enforcement agencies started their work and discovered the existence of Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), an Islamic terrorist organization. This organization developed in front of our eyes without creating a slightest suspicion of being an organized terrorist group whose members are ready to sacrifice their lives for their causes of establishing a so-called Islamic regime. Their notorious and dangerous character was further evidenced by a series of suicide bomb attacks on innocent judges and ordinary citizens in different court premises. In the context of post-9/11 world, these terrorist attacks have profoundly affected Bangladesh's identity as a moderate Muslim country. These incidents of brutal killing in the name of religion definitely pose a new threat for Bangladesh, a rapidly developing country. Islamic fundamentalism has become the new enemy for the Western nations since the fall of communism and the end of the cold war. At present, Islamic Fundamentalism has become synonymous of ruthlessness, hatred, militancy and terrorism in the Western world. However, despite efforts of several Western media to portray Bangladesh as a breeding ground of Islamic fundamentalism, the country maintained its image as a moderate Muslim country before August, 2005. But the latest development of JMB certainly affects this image of Bangladesh. Thus, there is an urgent need to look at the issue of development of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh. In this article, I will review the state and nature of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh to offer a historical context as well as a theoretical explanation of the emergence of JMB style Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh. I argue that in South Asia, Islam has interacted and blended itself with the indigenous social and cultural norms. This amalgamation of religion, society and culture in citizens' life inherently discourages extremism in the name of religion. Instead, Bangladeshi citizens have historically chosen religious as well as language and ethnic identities depending on the context. I will discuss the issue of identity shift of people in this region from a historical perspective. I will argue that the absence of a strict religious identity and the presence of a mixed ethno-religious-language based identity is more likely to prevent the "Al-Queda" model of Islamic militancy in Bangladesh However, the issue of the emergence and militancy of JMB remains unresolved with my identity-based explanation. With two theories on fundamentalism and a theory of ‘power', I will explain the emergence of JMB in an otherwise unlikely context. I argue that JMB style fundamentalism is foreign to most citizens of the country. It is not religion, but the problems of poverty and illiteracy that help several ambitious leaders to recruit JMB members. Thus, the law and order crack down on JMB members may bring a halt to Islamic militancy for the time being, but it may not adequately address the root problem. Proper pro-poor development programs along with transformational secular political leadership are what the nation needs.

Gyasuddin Molla

Paper Title            : Religious Militancy: Threat to Peace, Democracy and Human Security---South

  Asian Perspective

Abstract                :

Religion appears, no doubt, as a political force in South Asia. Politics gains at the cost of religion. It is equally evident that religious militancy develops from the practice of using religion to achieve political gains. Political use of religion begets intolerance, hatred, jealousy and terrorism. All religions in the world advocate peace, tolerance and brotherhood. The powerful vested interests often associate it with violence. Religious extremism and violence have become almost two sides of a coin, and thus not only in South Asia, in other parts of the world too, religious violence is becoming endemic. All the major countries of South Asia have witnessed, over the past two decades, the rise of   dangerous forms of religious militancy and extremism. India has seen the rise of an extremist Hindu nationalism, Pakistan is seen to have promoted Islamic militancy and terrorism, Bangladesh has witnessed the increasing political influence of Islam which has taken radical shape and finally, Sri Lanka seems to have been torn apart by deadly conflict between extremist Buddhist nationalism and minority ethnic Tamil community of Hindu religion. The emergence of radical religious groups has plagued South Asian political landscape as most of these countries have worst records of religious extremism and militancy. The growing terrorism of religious militants has mounted crises of democracy in South Asian states. Terrorism in the region has emanated from extreme religio-political fundamentalism, from religious intolerance and from the cherished antagonism against secular, progressive and democratic ideals. The scourge of terrorism is alarmingly threatening peace and democracy and abusing human rights leading to critical human security situation. The scourge of terrorism perpetrated by the home-grown religio-political groups of Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka in contemporary period have disrupted peace, made critical prospects of democracy and the state of human security alarmingly in the region. It has become imperative to seek measures to quell domestic violent movements grown out of religious extremism. Growth of terrorism never remains confined within one's own territory but has international ramifications. It transcends geographical boundary. Religious militants captured power in Afghanistan, and now they have developed their tentacles in neighboring countries. The resultant terrorism of religio-political elements of South Asian region is sure to be a threat for countries of neighboring region. They might extend their dreadful claws across continents. The papers, in this panel, focusing on the present state of religious militancy in the countries of South Asia, will bring into focus the root causes of religious militancy in South Asia, will explore if the rise of religious fundamentalism (in both rich and poor countries) is purely religious inspired or if it is a result of autocracy, faulty system of education, lack of freedom of speech, poverty, depravation, and most of all human rights violation.

K.M Mohsin

Paper Title            : Politics of Religion: SAARC Countries Perspective

Abstract                :

Religion came to the forefront in politics in this region towards the middle of the twentieth century. With the passage of time, SAARC countries have fallen in the grip of religious militancy. Religious militancy comprises Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist militant groups militancy in the SAARC countries. In India militant organizations like Hindu Mahasava, RSS, Shib Sena even BJP are using religion and religious symbols for political gains; religion has become a main weapon of politics in Pakistan from the establishment of this state in 1947; Bangladesh has fallen victim of religious extremism in the recent years. Srilanka has experienced agitation of radical Buddhist groups. Besides the increasing activities of militant religious groups there is also a growing importance of religious parties in SAARC countries. This is evident from the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India that became the single strongest party and headed a coalition government after 1998, the electoral success of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in Pakistan in 2002, the new strength of the Jamat-i-Islami in Bangladesh as well as the electoral success of the Buddhist Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) in Sri Lanka in the 2004 election. It appears that important SAARC countries are plagued with the rapaciousness of religious militancy, and it is therefore, necessary to examine the entire scenario of SAARC countries. The main purpose of this paper is to highlight this aspect of politics  in the region.

Mohammad Mohabbat Khan

Paper Title            : Religion and Democracy in SAARC Countries

Abstract                :

Rise of militancy and extremism in recent years has necessitated looking closely at the nexus between politics and religion in SAARC countries. The apprehension is growing that democratic systems in operation in these countries may not be able to sustain the increasing influence of religion-based parties in the governance systems. The incidence of violence perpetrated by some religion-based parties and their various front organizations including student wings are not only making governance difficult but at the same time enabling the government to politically use religion and adopting measures to curb human rights of citizens by adopting draconian measures. This situation has grave consequence for sustenance of the democratic systems in these countries in terms of the rights of political opponents, human rights situation, political instability, and internal and external security. The paper is an attempt to (i) review the literature on religion and democracy to construct an analytical framework to interpret interrelationship between religion and democracy in SAARC countries; and (ii) analyze policies of successive governments in SAARC countries with regard to religion in politics. It is believed that if democratic ethos is mixed with religion than the former will be adversely affected, undermined, and become non-functional in the long run.

 

Lodve A. Svare

Paper Title            : The Moral Dimension Of Diplomatic Peace-Making In Sri Lanka

Abstract                :

This paper analyses some of the moral disputes and inconsistencies that surfaced in the latest peace process in Sri Lanka (2000 - 2006). In particular, it investigates the moral basis for Norway's shuttle diplomacy between the government (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in light of certain strong objections raised to the peace process as a whole or to specific aspects of it. Two questions of special concern are (1) how the various stakeholders explain and justify their stand, explicitly or implicitly, with the help of moral arguments, and (2) how the dynamic of different moral perspectives influence diplomatic efforts towards resolving the conflict in the strongly internationalised aid- and peace-focused environment of present-day Sri Lanka. The political rationale and the moral basis sustaining Norway's peace facilitation attempt were challenged not only by the rhetoric of Sinhalese and Buddhist nationalists but increasingly also by anti-terror policies adopted by Western and regional powers. This was most flagrantly revealed by the European Union's proscription of the LTTE, which drastically reduced the cease-fire monitoring capacity of the Nordic mission and left it, in effect, without any possibility of holding the signatory parties responsible for the growing disrespect and numerous violations of the 2002 truce. Salient questions of inclusion and reliance, and the moral weight ascribed to concepts like nation and peace, were either deliberately ignored or too shallowly dealt with. Ambiguity in terminology and the absence of a mutually agreed moral foundation seem to place high demands on any third-party facilitator aimed at bridging what seems to be an ever-widening gap between the antagonists. The paper critically examines the challenges that arise from this moral complexity and offers suggestions as to how they could best be handled in a new or revitalised peace process.

Mohammad Musfequs Salehin

Paper Title            : Politicization of religion and security and peace in South Asia: Evidences from

  Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

Abstract                :

South Asia is a unique region with considerable cross-national diversities, similarities, and contradictions. This region with a broad variety of western political systems, also represents indigenous religious traditions. Almost all political parties in South Asia, regardless of their orientation, use or misuse religion for advancing political objectives. Politics gain at the cost of religion, has made possible for the religious extremist violence, destabilizing domestic security and explicit threat to peace in many South Asian countries. Present paper is an attempt to explore the interplay between religion, violence, security and peace in South Asia. In doing so Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been used as case studies. This paper argued that excessive political use of religion has become common in both of the countries. Over the last few years Bangladesh has witnessed a serious deterioration in its human rights' conditions, an explicit threat to democracy and domestic stability closely related to the rise of Islamic militancy. The process of politicization of religion and de-secularization of state in Bangladesh done under the different political and military leadership in Bangladesh. The country saw a proliferation of political parties with Islamic affiliations and the religious forces have become the direct partner of state power of Bangladesh after the parliament election of 2001. The Islamic militants came to the limelight after the countrywide simultaneous bombings on August 17, 2005, in which the militants exploded about 459 bombs in capital Dhaka as well as 63 out of total 64 districts. This study argued that policies of successive governments in Bangladesh since independence to the present have promoted religion in politics. Politicization of religion and religiosity of politics accelerated with poor governance  has posed a great threat to democracy and domestic stability and peace.  On the other hand, Buddhism in Sri Lanka proclaimed by young and generally poor Singhalese insurgents revolting against the state as a religion of resistance which, at several occasions, has grown aggressive and dressed up in a revolutionary outfit. Supported ideologically and joined in the streets by radical and militant Buddhist monks, the violent insurrections have no only attacked the minimalist orientation of the state, but also representatives of the state elite itself, its government's servants, and its material control of society. This paper also argued that in the process of revitalizing religion, majority Singhalese identity and interest have been cultivated and increasingly linked to the state. Today it is fair to say that rituals and symbols of Buddhism play a foremost role in state affairs in Sri Lanka.