Over 200 poets, writers, artists and journalists on Tuesday staged a protest in the capital against the recent communal violence in Bangladesh.
The protesters gathered outside Bangladesh National Museum in Shahbagh in the afternoon and demanded that the perpetrators of the communal attacks in various parts of the country, including Rangpur and Cumilla, be brought to justice.
Their eight-point demands also included taking prompt steps to prevent communal and sexist remarks on social media.
The protest was anchored by recitation artist Shahadat Hossain Nipu. Also present were writer Anisul Haque, filmmaker Amitabh Reza, poet Chanchal Ashraf, journalist Ahmad Mostafa Kamal, writer Jharna Rahman, filmmaker Masud Pathik, actor Moutushi Biswas, poet Tokon Tagore, and author-journalist Humayun Kabir Dhali.
Speakers at the protest site claimed that the recent communal violence was nothing but a conspiracy, based on the rumours that the Holy Quran had been disrespected at a puja mandap in Cumilla.
"It has become clear to us that similar occurrences are occurring as a result of the government's impunity culture. We've seen in the past how the Hindu and Buddhist communities have been targeted and attacked purposefully based on false rumours spread on social media, none of which has been thoroughly examined and the culprits have not been brought to punishment," the speakers said.
"Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony. In 1971, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians of all faiths fought side by side and made Bangladesh independent; but in the last 50 years after independence, every government has abandoned the spirit of the Liberation War to go to power by colluding with communal forces or to go to shameless competition for power. Article 32 of the constitution has given way to the formation of religion-based political parties," they alleged.
Renowned writer Swakrito Noman raised eight-point demands at the event, on behalf of the organisers.
The demands include identifying the communal attackers in different parts of the country centring on this year's Durga Puja and arresting and prosecuting them immediately; identifying the real reasons behind the communal attacks in Ramu, Nasirnagar, Shalla, Cumilla, Hajiganj, Noakhali and Rangpur; taking steps to stop communal and misogynistic statements on social media including Facebook, YouTube and Waz Mahfil; and the abolition of 'state religion' from the Constitution.