The contemporary fear of parents

Story and Photos by Emran Hossain

 

Parents are now more worried than ever before; in addition to fighting the menace of drugs, they now face a new challenge: keeping children from being brainwashed into terrorism in the form of Islamic fundamentalism.

Parents line up inside the entrance to a Dhaka school as a woman in green watches out for any suspicious presence

Parents line up inside the entrance to a Dhaka school as a woman in green watches out for any suspicious presence

Guardians are now facing this horrifying threat in the aftermath of the two suicide-styled terrorist attacks in Bangladesh, in which almost all the attackers were youths aged around 25 years or younger.

At least two of the attackers studied at a top private university as the others include madrassa students.

Surprisingly, the attackers seemed adept at simultaneous use of machete and firearm as they shot, slaughtered and hacked 24 people, including 17 foreigners, to death before losing their own lives in gunfights with law enforcement.

“Most parents are shaken to the core by this new menace,” said Nilufar (not her real name), a 50-year-old mother of a minor daughter and a son, an A level student.

“Deep inside, I keep worrying about my kid running into the militants’ trap and getting brainwashed for a cause unknown to Bangladeshi families,” she added.

Media reports of the life lived by some of the attackers a year or two ago led many to believe that militants must have brainwashed the youths into becoming merciless killers.

The killers did not even have a single demand, even when law enforcement forces tried to communicate with them, as they killed two dozen people whom they had never met before.

The ease with which the youths engaged in such brutality, forced the high court into instructing the investigators to examine whether the boys were under the influence of drugs.

But, just like Nilufar, Nandita (not her real name), 40, is haunted by the idea that militants are out to brainwash kids.

Nandita, the mother of a son in the sixth grade and a daughter of three and a half years old, wondered whether her children could grow up to be adults who could figure out what is best for them.

Two parents wait for their vehicle to arrive in front of a school in Dhaka

Two parents wait for their vehicle to arrive in front of a school in Dhaka

“I feel alarmed and pity for the poor kids as their heads are filled up with the wrong perceptions of religion, even before they get a chance to think about it for once,” said Nandita.

“It is already proven that university is the perfect place for brainwashing youths,” explained Nandita. “You cannot send your children abroad for studies either, as we are now facing a global phenomenon,” she added.

For the time being, Nandita and Nilufar have asked their sons and younger brothers not to be engaged in activities on the social networking platforms, especially on Facebook.

They have increased their surveillance of their children and dear ones, but also know that they don’t have solutions to tackle the problem.

Mitu (not her real name), a teacher at the school where Nandita’s daughter studies says, “Although our students are aged between 3 and 5 years, militants have probably made their way into the kids’ mind by carrying out the attacks.”

She is a bit surprised by the fact that not a single kid wanted to know anything about the attacks from her, since the school reopened after about a month-long Eid vacation on Wednesday.

Parents line up outside a school in the Dhanmondi area of the capital

Parents line up outside a school in the Dhanmondi area of the capital

“We are trying to talk our students into speaking out about their thoughts on the matter. We are discussing reasons as to why physical harm should not be caused to anyone,” added Mitu.

Mitu said the silence of the kids could be understood if put into our own perspective. She instructed her children not to engage in any discussion regarding the matter.

As soon as Mitu ended her interview standing on the schoolyard, the final bell of the day at the school rang. A five-year-old girl was seen jumping to her father’s lap just outside the school compound.

The father, Nurul Alam (not his real name), 45, is worried because his daughter kept asking him about what is meant by the word “jongi” (militants/terorists).

None of the half a dozen parents interviewed by reportsbd.com, could see this horrific event coming. Until this moment in life, as parents explained, all they had to worry about was protecting children against kidnappers known as “chheledhora” and drug addiction.

Nurul failed to explain the word to his daughter.

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Posted by on Jul 23 2016. Filed under Special Features, Home Slide. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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