Chanchal Chowdhury, a National award-winning actor in Bangladesh, was abused and bullied on social media by Islamists after they learnt that he is a Hindu by faith. He has acted in several films such as ‘Debi’, ‘Aynabaji’, ‘Monpura’, ‘Rupkothar Goplo’ and others.
On Sunday (May 9), the critically acclaimed actor had updated his profile picture on the occasion of International Mother’s Day. He had posted a heartwarming picture with his mother, accompanied by the caption “Maa… (heart symbol)’. Islamists were quick to spot the vermillion mark on his mother’s head, a distinct feature that distinguishes Hindus from Muslims.
It must be mentioned that several Bangladeshi Muslims bear Hindu names. At times, the Hindu names are prefixed with words such as ‘Mohammed’ to signify a Muslim identity. The surname of ‘Chowdhury’ that is suffixed to the actor’s name, for instance, is used by Hindus and Muslims alike. The surname in question was given to the landlords during the British era. As a result, many Muslims believed that Chanchal Chowdhury followed the Islamic faith.
Islamists abuse Hindu actor, ask him to convert to Islam
However, on learning that he is a Hindu, the rabid Islamists did not shy away from spewing vitriol against him. While some Muslims expressed surprise after discovering his religious affiliation, others asked him to convert to Islam. Some Islamists even resorted to the choicest of expletives and attributing vile names to his mother. “If I wouldn’t have seen this picture, then, I would have remained under the impression that you are a Muslim,” wrote one Al-Sady Prial.
“I won’t give a heed to actors such as you after learning that you are a Hindu. I did not know earlier that you are a Hindu,” wrote another Islamist.
Another Islamist named Entazul Haque remarked, “Everyone is born Muslim. But, when their forefathers start worshipping idols, they become Hindus. Islam is the only true religion. Everything else is fake. Carrying the burden of such a religion is nothing but foolishness.”
Chanchal Chowdhury speaks out after being abused for being a Hindu
Following the barrage of hate comments (many of which stand deleted), the Bangladeshi actor pinned his own comment. It read, “Brothers and sisters, what is your loss or gain if I am a Muslim or Hindu? The biggest identity of every individual is that he is a human. Distasteful questions about religion and discussions must be stopped from all quarters. Come, let’s become humans first. “
On Monday, he took to Facebook yet again to recite a poem titled, ‘Dhormo (religion).’ “Who has given you the right to ‘save’ religion? Why do you commercialise religion? All religions speak of serving humanity. Do you feel superior after commercialising yours?” Chanchal Chowdhury read an excerpt from the poem.
After the controversy came to the public limelight, several netizens in Bangladesh came forward to show solidarity with the Hindu actor. With hashtags such as #stopcyberbullying and #hokprotibad, the progressive minds came together to counter-attack the regular harassment by Islamists on social media. Director Chayanika Chowdhury said, “Chanchal Chowdhury is my brother, our brother. I am seriously having doubts about our conscience as a nation. This is enough.”
Actor Fazlur Rahman pointed out, “Ignorant fanatics always go too far in the name of religion.” Another actor Rawnak Hasan remarked, “I condemn those who make these radical and obscene comments. I demand exemplary punishment of these cybercriminals.” A victim of cyber attacks, Ashna Habib Bhabna lamented, “Our silence has been their strength.”
Rising hatred against Hindus in Bangladesh
During the official 2-day visit on PM Modi to Bangladesh, Islamists attacked Hindu Temples to protest against him. Violent protests have been underway in Bangladesh over the visit by the Indian Prime Minister and some protesters have died during attempts by the police to enforce law and order.
At the same time, three rooms of the 400-year-old Paruarkul Ashtagram Maha crematorium and Radhagobind Ashram were burnt down by unidentified miscreants in Mohammadpur Upazila of Bangladesh’s Magura district. Parts of three houses, chariots and idols were also reduced to ashes in the fire which was later brought under control.
Earlier, it was reported that Facebook services were down in Bangladesh in light of the violent protests. Border Guards have been deployed to enforce law and order on the streets. The Hefazat-e-Islami is a hardline Islamist organisation, whose members have been accused of persecuting Hindus in the past.