Ali Riaz delivered a lecture at the Savannah Council of World Affairs on October 19 in Savannah, Georgia.
In the lecture, “Extremism, Political Islam and Governance in Bangladesh,” Professor Riaz explained the rise of extremism in Bangladesh and argued that extremism is not exclusively associated with any religion. While violent Islamist extremism receives international media attention, other kinds of extremist ideologies are also thriving around the world. Nationalism too, he noted, is serving as a source of extremism. He also argued that political Islam has various strands, some of which are associated with violence but not all Islamists should be painted with a broad brush. He argued that some militant groups operating in Bangladesh are ideologically motivated by transnational terrorist groups, and there have been organizational connections between them.
Referring to the current state of governance in Bangladesh, Professor Riaz expressed concerns that the non-inclusive nature of governance is serving as an “enabling environment” for extremist thoughts. The authoritarian tendencies of the government is deeply concerning. Highlighting the recent influx of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh from Myanmar, Riaz said that it is a grave humanitarian crisis and the international community must find a durable solution soon; Bangladesh shouldn’t be left alone to deal with such a monumental crisis.