Wednesday, 06 July 2022 08:29

Learning About Preventing Religious Extremism in Bangladesh

Ten representatives from Sri Lanka visited Bangladesh under the project Prevention of Violent Extremism Capacity Building in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, co-funded by the European Union and implemented in Sri Lanka by Helvetas Sri Lanka and NPC and in Bangladesh by Helvetas Bangladesh and Rupantar, to learn about Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) strategies, approaches and best practices of PVE intervention.

During the six day visit, participants observed activities on inter faith dialogue and had meetings with youth, civil society organizations, state officers, media personnel, religious leaders and academics. The team also visited religious and historical places and had discussions with local communities. The team found that, by and large, Bangladeshis trust and respect each other without fear, resulting in an inclusive society that prevents radicalisation. The present government in Bangladesh does not accept extremist concepts. After a café in the capital was attacked by an extremist group, the government put forward a zero tolerance policy toward terrorism, arrested terrorist suspects and continued its counter terrorism cooperation with the international community. Civil society organizations supported the government in promoting PVE activities and included PVE concepts in
their government funded projects.

Bangladeshs electronic and printed media followed media ethics and were concerned that their news did not promote extremist violence, according to media representatives.

“I am proud to have participated in the visit to Bangladesh. I saw that people celebrate their religious events together in unity. Community mobilisation activities carried out by NGOs are a good lesson and the participation of youth and senior citizens in the project is a new experience. Language plays an important role in their unity as well as creating and embracing the idea of being a patriot. Through this visit I learnt that violent extremism can be prevented by instilling in people the idea that all religions should be practiced without any restrictions and without destroying the identity of others,” said Mrs. Sutharshani from Vavuniya.

“The lessons learnt on preventing violence extremism from the Bangladesh tour are invaluable. I saw the importance of giving opportunities to young people to think, listen and engage in activities. Enabling women to facilitate family-based solutions had brought about a visible social change through attitude changes. As the country’s economy continues to grow, unemployment will fall and the youth will be less likely to resort to extremism,” said Mrs. Renuka Maliyagoda from Kandy.