Historically, the people of Bangladesh have always been secular. In fact, the majority of the people are non communal by nature despite being deeply religious. The followers of all religion, caste and culture have been living side by side peacefully in Bangladesh for thousands of years.
The common people, though devout by nature, are peace loving without being fanatics on the question of religion. Bangladesh is an excellent example of communal harmony where the people respect all religions, which is manifested by the participation of people of one religion in the festivals of other religions.Even during the years of being part of a religion-based country like Pakistan, the people of the eastern wing had always managed to remain above the religious divide. Since the inception of Bangladesh under the leadership of Bangabandhu, which literally came into existence based on secularism, the people have been enjoying freedom to practise their own religion without fear or favour.
Respect for and equality of all citizens irrespective of their caste, creed or religion has been the basis of cultural harmony among the people of Bangladesh. In recent times, some groups have tried to create rift among the people by dividing them on different political, social or religious issues. But so far, they have not been successful due to the firm handling of the disturbing elements by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Amsterdam-based policy research institution, the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), an EU-accredited non-profit think tank, has praised Bangladesh under the able leadership of Sheikh Hasina for properly dealing with terrorism and religious extremism in the country. We happily acknowledge the appreciation of EFSAS of Bangladesh’ stand and position on the question of religious fanaticism.
The comparative analysis of EFSAS between Bangladesh and Pakistan is somewhat unfathomable as Pakistan has been historically created on the question of religious divide of the subcontinent, whereas, the people of Bangladesh have always given import to secularism and humanity. There can be no comparison between these two countries on these lines as not only are they thousand of miles apart geographically, but also culturally and ideologically.
As for the matter of the cartoons on the Prophet, as the secular people of Bangladesh respect all religions, so we hope that all countries of the world would emulate our broad-minded and big-hearted approach towards religious sentiments of all religions and people.