Washington: In view of the recent hacking to death of two bloggers, renowned American experts and lawmakers have expressed concern over rise of radical Islam in Bangladesh.
"These assassinations have opened a new front between the values of a syncretic, secular, humanistic Bangladeshi culture against a rigid worldview incapable of allowing difference to coexist," said Alyssa Ayres senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, a major US think-tank.
Testifying on recent developments in Bangladesh before the Committee on House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Ayres said these murders have been all the more troubling given Bangladesh's comparative moderation and its well-known economic and development successes.
"The rise of this extreme form of violent Islam is occurring at a moment when Bangladeshi politics have become extremely polarized, and in a sense creating a governance vacuum," she said.
Testifying before the lawmakers in the hearing, entitled "Bangladesh's Fracture: Political and Religious Extremism" Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow, Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation said the recent political turmoil in Bangladesh threatens to derail economic and social progress and set back democratic development in this pivotal nation with the fourth-largest Muslim population in the world.
Islamist extremists recently murdered two Bangladeshi journalists, raising concern that religious militants will take advantage of any prolonged political unrest, she said.
"The US must adopt a more assertive role in encouraging Sheikh Hasina's Awami League government and the leading Opposition party, the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, to pursue dialogue to break the political deadlock and restore stability," Curtis said.