chapter  9
Bangladesh: Muslim Identity, Secularism, and the Politics of Nationalism
ByMohammad Rashiduzzaman
Pages 15

The reassertion of Muslim identity in Bangladesh has come a long way since the polity broke away from Pakistan in 1971. So far, the fear of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh has been grossly exaggerated. In this chapter, Muslim identity, Muslim nationalism, and Muslim patriotism are used interchangeably as it is often difficult to delineate one from the other. However, the Islamic parties on their own are not yet strong enough to challenge the secularists for political power in elections. The linguistic patriotism is also an undeniable reality in Bangladesh. It is an emotion that inspires major political groups, cultural establishments, intellectuals, leaders, and individuals that Muslim nationalists cannot ignore. Muslim consciousness and lingo-centric patriotism are the two parallel identities in Bangladesh for the foreseeable future, and their coexistence is the only realistic choice for a consensus in the civil society. The strength of Muslim identity and the political ascendancy of Islamic groups are visibly feared by the secularists.