Home EVENTS Brussels Conference calls for greater unity of Secular forces to fight terrorism

Brussels Conference calls for greater unity of Secular forces to fight terrorism

Secular forces to fight terrorism
Photo: from right Nora Babalova, Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Shahidul Hoque, Paulo Casaco MEP and Jahangir Chowdhury

Brussels: Association of Bangladesh Community in Belgium (ABCB) and Belgium Awami League on 21 March 2017 organised a conference titled, ‘Dhaka and Brussels Solidarity for Peace’ at the European Press club in Brussels. The conference was organised in commemoration with the terrorists’ attack on 22 March last year at Brussels airport and metro station in Belgium and also at the Holy Artisen restaurant attack in Dhaka last year. The conference participated by leaders of Awami league, social and secular activists and community leaders from different European countries, European political leaders and the Bangladeshi community people called for an urgent need for forging greater unity among the secular forces across Europe to fight the terrorism in the name of religion, which they said, was a global phenomenon. They expressed concern at the rise of Jamaat-e-Islam (Jel) activities in and outside the country, especially in some European countries to thwart the efforts being made by the present AL government led by Sheikh Hasina to make Bangladesh a secular, democratic and prosperous country.

The speakers also appreciated the Sheikh Hasina government’s firm determination of ‘zero tolerance’ on terrorism. They said, terrorists do not have any faith or religion and needs to be uprooted from all over the world including Bangladesh. They underscored the need to raise citizen’s voice to fight terrorism in the name of religion

Member of European Parliament and head of South Asia Democratic Forum addressing the conference
Mr. Paulo Casaca, former Member of European Parliament and head of South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) addressing the conference

Addressing the conference as chief guest, Mr. Paulo Casaca, former Member of European Parliament and head of South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) who was in Dhaka when blogger Avijit Roy was killed gave a picture of the emergence of Jel and Islamic forces in Bangladesh. Mr. Paulo went to the site of the killing and placed flower in respect to blogger Avijit Roy. Describing the situation, he said, “That is the blood of assault, it is the blood that unites us. It is the blood that tells us that we cannot allow this to go on and on. We have to stop this!” He added. “We are facing what psych sociologists call fundamentalist Paranoid Gestalt which is a collective phenomenon of paranoia. This paranoia uses some symbols, in this case religion. This is a sort of paranoia that can attain people in a tremendously devastating sequence. “This is fundamentally a manual to a revolution, a global totalitarian revolution where a group of people want to grab power. This is the essence of this and this is what we have to take into consideration.” He further continued, “When we see the decisions of the judicial authorities and the international court tribunal on the crimes of the genocide I have to tell you very clearly that these are measures that we have to full-heartedly support.’’

the coordinators speaking at the conference
M.M. Murshed, one of the coordinators speaking at the conference.

“Please, do your at most to a fruitful dialogue with every political force in Bangladesh that is not staying by crimes. I think you need it; we do need it as well in Europe. We have to ensure that democracy in Bangladesh will move forward, that it will move forward on the basis of the unreserved condemnation of the criminals, unreserved condemnation of all the organisations that have been involved in the genocide.” On democracy Mr Paulo said, “Democracy is not such a solid concept as most of us think here in Europe. Democracy is a very recent phenomenon. This is something that is very modern, very fragile and we are still discovering a lot of things. We are far from knowing things in a clear, established way. We are discovering it together.” “India was a democracy much before most of the western countries were democracies. So to speak about democracy as a western concept doesn’t make much sense.” “In Iraq I have seen the worst I have seen in my life. I think it gave me a lot of validity to say ‘We have to be united against this sort of killings!’.”

We have to find out the problem and that is why SADF is investing time. What we are facing now is collective paranoia. He emphasised the importance of acting together to stop the bloodshed in Bangladesh. For him extremism is a collective paranoia using symbols like religion in this case. He calls Abul A’la Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, the most influential motor of Bangladesh’s islamist movement. His condemnation has been the first fundamental step. Having dialogues with every political force in Bangladesh, which has not been involved in criminal activities and the genocide, should be the next one. This is necessary in order to make democracy move forward and make it less fragile. His full speech can be seen in the video link given below:

শান্তির পক্ষে বাংলাদেশ সরকার তথা বিশ্বশান্তিতে প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনার “জিরো টলারেন্স” কর্মসূচির সাফল্য বিশ্বময় ছড়িয়ে দিতে বেলজিয়াম আওয়ামী লীগ এর উদ্যোগে ব্রাসেলসে প্রেসক্লাবে অনুষ্ঠিত হলো সেমিনার।

Geplaatst door Nobokontho op Dinsdag 21 maart 2017

Mr. Ansar Ahmed Ullah said, none of us is immune of terrorist attack. In fact, in 2015 a number of terrorists from Belgium took part in the attack in France. Mr. Ansar Ahmed Ullah of European Bangladesh Forum (EBF) of London was the main speaker at the conference. Chaired by Mr. Shahidul Hoque, President Belgium AL the conference was addressed by Mr. Bikash Chowdhury Barua of European Bangladesh Forum (EBF), Ms. Nora Babalova, a secular activist from Slovakia, Mr. Hasnat Karim, Euopean Awami Leauge (AL), Germany, Dr. Biddut Barua, Secretary, Sweden AL, Mr. Rizvi Alam, Spain AL, Mr. Murad Khan, Secretary, Holland AL, Mr. Mainul Islam, Finland AL and Mr. M.M. Murshed, one of the coordinators of the conference. Mr. Jahangir Chowdhury Ratan, Secretary Belgium AL conducted the conference. A Japanese musician played violin in memory of the victims died in the terrorist attacks on 22 March 2016 at Brussels airport and metro station. Prior to the conference a delegate from the organisers went to the place of bomb attack and laid floral wreath in memory of the victims. A documentary film was screened on Brussels and Dhaka Holey Artisan attack.


A Japanese violinist performed two tracks dedicated to peace. The event was attended by civil society members, social, cultural, political activists and Bengali delegates from Europe with the aim of promoting peace, harmony, democracy, diversity, international co-operation to make the world a planet of peace.

The latest Policy Paper of the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) mentioned that, ‘the rise of Jel is connected, directly, through individual members, or indirectly through its affiliates- with the rise of violence and terrorism in Bangladesh, including its cross-border components. Jel is is already so deeply entrenched into the institutional system of governance and public sphere in Bangladesh that it can continue to function, even without being in power, build up its fanatic Islamic network. Jel risks turning Bangladesh into a major hub of terrorist activists, the Policy paper adds. It further said that Jel’s connection to Westerdn based Jihadist organisations, mainly in the U.K. shows that it is not just a regional phenomenon but an important internatonal player.

According to the SADF Policy paper, March 2017 Issue, ‘according to the South Asian Terrorism Portal’, members of the student wing of Jel are coopearing with Pakistan’s ISI in order to support Islamist subversive agenda in many regions in India, particularly in areas bordering Bangladesh, they also claim ISI finances Islamic Chattra Shibir (JL student wing). The SADF policy paper came up

European Bangladesh Forum is addressing the conference
Ansar Ahmed Ullah of European Bangladesh Forum is addressing the conference. Also see in the photo are: former MEP Paulo Casaca, Shahidul Haque, chair and Nora Babalona: below is M M Murshed, one of the Coordinatiors of the conference

with the suggestions that: 1) most western governments assume the so-called Islamist parties are willing and able to take part in democratic processes. This according to SADF needs to be reassessed.; 2) political parties that directly or indirectly associate- either through individual members of third entities (Muslim charity and cultural organisations) –with violent Jihadist organisations must be considered as part of the Jihadist movement and the West must stop acting as their safe heaven, granting them freedom of movement, economic and financial activities that eventually destablise non-Jihadist Muslim countries. It further said that western government must ensure that their territories are not used by parties supporting terrorism, directly or indirectly. The Western authorities should encourage cross-border cooperation to combat terrorism in South Asia and beyond. In particular, the West should help Bangladesh authorities and actively develop its education sector, and particularly encourage secular education in public schools. DADF further suggests that the western governments should support Bangladesh’s authority’s action to promote civil society, to eliminate the spread of ‘ideologies of hate’.