The dorm room was quite silent today. The Gifted Four were engrossed in their tasks. Scorch had stepped out for a game of fireball. As always, Orak’s nose was buried in the pages of a book. Felix was making streamers out of newspaper. Verum was solving a crossword puzzle.
“Get a bee,” muttered Verum, “What could it be? Why do I need to get a bee?”
Orak looked up and said, “How many letters is this word?”
“Five letters!” replied Verum, “Do you know what it could be?”
“Try ‘bigot’,” suggested Orak.
“Yes, that’s it!” replied Verum, “I get it now… bee-got… bee and the past tense of ‘get’ – got!”
“What does it mean?” said Felix.
“A bigot is someone who strongly and unfairly dislikes people or ideas of another group,” replied Orak, “If we look at past examples of bigotry, then we will see that bigots often hold opinions against racial, ethnic, or religious groups.”
“Bigots can cause a lot of harm,” added Verum, “Take what’s happening in Bangladesh as an example. Bangladesh is located to the East of India. It has a population of 169 million. Most of its residents follow Islam as a religion. That makes it a Muslim majority country. But 10% of Bangladeshi people are Hindus.”
“What happened?” said Felix.
“Last week, the Hindus were celebrating a festival called Durga Puja. During this festival, they erect a pandal or a temporary tent. In this pandal, statues of the Hindu goddess Durga are kept and worshipped,” replied Verum, “But an incident led to an outbreak of violence against these pandals and Hindus as a whole in Bangladesh.”
“What incident?” said a worried Orak.
“A man took the Quran, the holy book of Muslims, from a local mosque and placed it in a Durga Puja pandal,” said Verum, “It hurt people’s religious sentiments and marked the beginning of violence against Bangladesh’s Hindu minority. A mob torched the homes of Hindus. Hindu businesses were damaged too. Temples were also vandalized.”
“The man was later identified as Iqbal Hossain. He was arrested along with 450 suspected temple attackers,” added Verum, “A week later, the violence has continued. The government is trying to curb it using Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).”
“It’s never right to target people of another religion, regardless of whichever religion they belong to. Our world is becoming more and more global. Twenty years ago it was difficult to experience other cultures or even know about different religious practices. As kids and mysticals of the new world, it is far easier for us to not just know but also appreciate and respect other cultures. Wouldn’t it be so much better and peaceful if we allowed everybody to practice their own beliefs?” said Orak.