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Home Amnesty International Bangladesh: ‘Seige’ threat …
Bangladesh: ‘Seige’ threat to religious minority

Amnesty International UK

Bangladesh: ‘Seige’ threat to religious minority

Press release, August 26, 2004

Islamist leaders have threatened to 'lay siege to' the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat religious community’s headquarters in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka tomorrow (27 August) unless the government declares the sect to be ‘non-Muslim’. This is the latest in a series of attempts by Islamist groups to prevent Ahmadis from openly practising their beliefs. Islamist groups have tried to shut down community centres, put up hate signs on Ahmadi places of worship and have confiscated religious materials and prayer books. Amnesty International believes the community is at serious risk of violent attack.

News reports from 21 August state that Islamist groups organised a procession through Dhaka, saying that on 27 August they would surround the Ahmadiyya headquarters, prevent anyone from entering or leaving, stop all worship there and confiscate Ahmadi prayer books. Marchers are said to have clashed with the police as they attempted to attack an Ahmadi complex.

Human rights activists are said to be planning to form a human chain around the Ahmaddiya Muslim Jamaat Headquarters to prevent the Islamist groups from beseiging the building.

The government has not condemned the incitement to violence against Ahmadis, nor said it will protect their rights to freedom of religion. Amnesty International members are calling on the Bangladeshi government to give effective protection to the entire Ahmadiyya community in Bangladesh, particularly their headquarters, and to protect human rights defenders seeking to support their rights.

Islamist groups are believed to be targeting the Ahmadiyya community in an attempt to force the government to declare them “non-Muslims”, part of a drive toward the introduction of sharia (Islamic law) in Bangladesh.

In the past year, Amnesty International has documented abuses by anti-Ahmadi groups including the killing of an Ahmadi preacher, the “excommunication” and illegal house arrest of Ahmadi villagers, a ban on Ahmadiyya publications, street processions against Ahmadis and a rising wave of hate speech in public rallies which incite acts of violence against Ahmadis. While the Bangladeshi government has acted to prevent mobs supporting Islamist groups from entering Ahmadi mosques, it has failed to bring to justice those committing human rights abuses against Ahmadis.

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