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Since the birth of Bangladesh, aspirations of secularism that were expected to leave their marks on self, politics and society, have been a source of constant debates and disappointments. As Bangladesh embraced military rule and amended the “secular” clause in the constitution, the (re)entry of Islamists into the political arena with new geo political ties has seen a renewed political salience of Islam, alongwith an Islamization at the cultural level. As the “democratic” years set in, a constant competition between Bengali and Bangladeshi nationalisms continuously sought to shape secularism and processes of secularization. Critics argue that neither Bengali nor Bangladeshi nationalisms have been able to give minorities their proper “secular” space. This chapter highlights the role of these nationalistic views, engineered and moderated by the state, in managing tolerance. The chapter provides a historical, comparative view, allowing us to think towards more capacious possibilities for a Muslim majority, yet tolerant Bangladesh.
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