Arts, Culture for Countering Extremism
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            Bangladesh, like many countries of the world, is experiencing violent extremist activities by some derailed and brainwashed people in the last few years. The government has been showing zero-tolerance and adopting stern measures against such cowardly activities. As a consequence of operational measures we see a significant drop in attempts of the massacre by extremist groups in the very recent time. Prompt actions by law enforcement agencies to foil the efforts by extremist associations have been proven effective and fruitful. Now it is high time to patronize such an environment which will demotivate and discourage the new generations towards following violent and extremist means. Studies suggest that arts and culture can be very instrumental in this regard.

            The derailed people are wasting the most vital time of their lives. The violence of extremism has spread out everywhere in the world and turned out as one of the most challenging issues in the concurrent world. Particularly, a very dominant presence of the young blood engaged in such heinous activities has become a big concern for the global community. This vicious social disease is exhausting the energy and enthusiasm of the young generation, the key driving force of development. It is too unfortunate for us as they are involved in destruction at that juncture of the life when it is high time to explore their creativity, innovation and self-development. We should shoulder the responsibility of bringing around these derailed young people towards the track of self-realization. 

            Young generations, because of their immaturity, sometimes show a lack of vision. An Absence of motivation is pushing them aside from self-development and leading them astray. In most cases families, due to some other engagement of parents, do not address the problem duly. At the same time, the social bonds are also loosing leaving the young people exposed to wrong headed ideas. As a result, their intellect, thoughts, attitudes and behavior are being impaired. With this mental construct, the younger generations are instigated to go for destruction to realize some tenets. A very easy access to the virtual world has significant contribution in this regard. A lack of guidance and directions, particularly from family and society have left them unprotected from being prey by some evil and criminal minded people having vested interest. These enemies of the society and state are capitalizing on the weakness of the youths and exploiting them for serving their interest. They indoctrinate the young ones, train them with assassinating techniques and produce new challenges, charms and excitements in the forms of violent activities before them. Frustration, drug addiction, the search for fun, bad surroundings and ambience, emotional seclusion from parents and sometimes even affluence are pushing the young people towards violence and extremism.

            While combating extremism the government of Bangladesh follows a zero-tolerance policy against all sorts of terrorist activities and very successfully tackled all such incidents so far. Law enforcement agencies are continuously searching the hidden dormitories of extremists and take prompt actions to dismantle those. Through affirmative and proactive actions the government has been successful to send a strong message to the extremist groups and we see a significant decrease in extremist incidents in the recent time.

            However, in the context of global current scenario the young people should be provided with opportunities which can play a vital role in reconstructing their mindset and protecting themselves from misadventure. They should be given opportunities for building themselves with the light of creativity and innovation.  Art and cultural activities are widely practiced for bringing out the latent creative attributes of human beings. Creative practices sharpen the intellectual feature that urges for upholding the positive values of life. Other than these individual developments, some social blessings can be achieved from arts and culture. Arts and cultural activities vocalize the tacit words of those who are at the risk of exclusion. It is always the creative literature, arts and cultural practices that pick up the agony and the anguish of secluded people of the society and promote the society towards its inclusion. 

            History reflects the legacy of the enriched arts and cultural traits of Bangladesh. Arts and culture played a key role in struggling for autonomy starting from the language movement in 1952 to the great liberation war in 1971.We are resourceful enough to apply arts and culture as a soft tool for keeping away the new generation from catastrophic moto of life like killing and suiciding. Arts and culture strengthen the development of attributes fostering tolerance to dissent, friendliness, and intellectual capabilities and broadening mind through progressive thinking, For instance. Youngsters, in the current globalized world, need to confer on these values and qualities to save themselves from extremism. They should be motivated towards doing some creative activities, like arts and cultural activities which will bring out their hidden and untapped talents. We should shoulder the responsibility of arranging adequate opportunities for them irrespective of their socio-economic background. This problem should be handled with care and love as they are our son, our brother our children.

            The government is working relentlessly to enable and empower the government officials to address issues pertinent to administration and development. In the present situation, addressing extremism and terrorism is one of the key priority areas of the government. To scale up the quality of the official in the field of extremism Ministry of Public Administration, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia jointly adopted a training project under Australia Awards Fellowship program. After completing the first part of the program, the participants, from both public and private sectors, took initiatives to promote arts and cultural activities in their community. One of such initiatives is being formed by Vatoibazar Cultural Association of Shailkupa Upazila of Jhenaidah district. This association has recently arranged stick game shows (lathikhela), once famous game in rural areas but on the verge of extinction at present and other local games. A huge number of local people watch these fascinating shows. Such arrangements for entertainment keep the local youth away from being misguided. More cultural and sports organizations should be created and supported to keep the people, especially the youths on the right track of life.

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