The law department of Bangladesh’s prestigious East West University has found in a recent study that 10 per cent of students in the country supported terrorism and that more than half – 51.7 percent – of those students are from well-off families.
The study report was released by the university at a programme on Sunday where Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Information Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, University Board of Trustees President Mohammed Farashuddin, Vice Chancellor MM Shahidul Hasan and the police’s counterterrorism unit chief Monirul Islam were present.
The university conducted the research amidst a nationwide campaign against terrorism and militancy after the July 1 terror attack on a cafe at Gulshan in Dhaka, where 22 people, mostly foreigners, were killed. Three of the five attackers, who were killed in a raid to free hostages next morning, were from well-to-do families and students of renowned institutions.
According to professor Tureen Afroz, Chairperson of the university’s law department, 1000 students answered a set of 20 questions on terrorism and youth during the survey between Oct 27 and Nov 3 this year. Of them, 663 were male and 337 female.
The study found that 54.7 percent of the students who bear radical ideas are aged between 18 and 25 years. About 10.2 percent said youths’ taking to terrorism is ‘unfortunate’ and ‘unexpected’. They called for effective steps to prevent terrorism. Almost 84 percent said the trend of youths embracing terrorism increased to a higher degree than ever before. About 37.6 percent students said the trend was mostly seen among youths from the rich families.
According to the survey, 93.6 per cent students blamed indifference of the families to the youths for their joining terrorism. Ninety percent also blamed political instigation. The other reasons, they felt, were joblessness, lack of religious knowledge, easy access to internet-based communication, frustration with and faults in education system.
Of the surveyed students, 67.5 percent said the youths are falling into the vortex of terrorism because of ideological deviation, not because of financial reasons. Nearly 74 percent said they were unhappy with the anti-terrorism operations of the law-enforcing agencies.
Tureen Afroz said the survey also found a lack of confidence in the judiciary to prevent terrorism. To do that, the students wanted initiatives by educational institutions, reforms in education system, surveillance by families, befitting laws and their proper execution and necessary training and equipment for law-enforcing agencies.