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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  2003  Intolerance - Editorial - The Independent, Bangladesh

The Independent, Bangladesh


The last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan is supposed to be a solemn and pious occasion. Unfortunately though the capital witnessed some really unsavoury scenes on Jumatul Wida. On that day after congregation prayers some unscrupulous people, masquerading as religious leaders whipped up the passion of religious people and made them indulge in violent agitation. Their demand was that a section of people of the country should be declared as non-Muslims. One thing should be made clear, whatever be the goal of the fanatics, they are not the true followers of Islam. Islam always emphasises tolerance and non- interferance with other people’s beliefs. Moreover according to Islam, only Allah can judge whether one is a true Muslim or not. So these people, preying on the religious sentiments of the people, have little business to dictate to others how to practise their religion. If these fanatic elements are not checked in time the germ of intolerance will spread leading to dangerous situations in the future.

Bangladesh is well-known for its religious harmony. For centuries people belonging to different religious groups have lived here in peace and with fellow feeling. There have always been different interpretations of religion and people, including religious leaders, have taken a liberal view regarding the matter. The bauls, for instance have been practising their own way of life and religion, and there have been little by way of opposition to them.

This rigidity and intolerance involving religion is a relatively new phenomenon in this country. And the alarming thing is that the trend is gaining strength. They messengers of hate have managed to recruit impressionable younger people and they are growing ever bolder. However, we do hope that better sense will prevail and everybody will refrain from actions that harm the country’s image as a land of tolerance. The image of Islam and Muslims have taken a battering in the world and the people mainly responsible are a minuscule minority of religious zealots far removed from the ideals of Islam. We hope they are identified and not allowed to get the upper hand. Religion and bigotry do not go together. Let everyone practise the true essence of their respective religions.

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