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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  May, 2004  Ahmadiyyas under siege in Chittagong
Ahmadiyyas under siege in Chittagong

The Daily Star
Vol. 5 Num 3Sun. May 30, 2004


Ahmadiyyas under siege in Chittagong
Going from bad to worse

In the name of “maintaining the peace” the government has been a party to the continuing stigmatisation and marginalisation of the Ahmadiyyas.

The International Khatme Nabuyat Movement took its anti-Ahmadiyya agitation to Chittagong on Friday, with hundreds of stick-wielding demonstrators besieging the city’s Ahmadiyya mosque, and reiterating their demand for Ahmadiyyas to be declared non-Muslims by the government. Once again, the local authorities caved in to the mob pressure and agreed to hang a sign “warning” Muslims that the mosque was an Ahmadiyya place of worship and should not be mistaken for a Muslim mosque.

Let us repeat this point. The sign was hung up by the police. The police claim to have done so in order to maintain the peace. Thus, in the name of “maintaining the peace” the government has been a party to the continuing stigmatisation and marginalisation of the Ahmadiyyas.

It is interesting that the government is forever bemoaning the image problem that Bangladesh suffers from, and castigates the media, the opposition, and even watchdog international organisations for contributing to this negative image which is so harmful for the country.

It does not seem to occur to the government that nothing anyone else can say or do could possibly harm our image as a country more than this kind of religious intolerance that it not only eschews but also condones. There is simply no place for this kind of obscurantist and reactionary religious repression in the Bangladesh we are professing to want to create. The world, even we have come too far to permit ourselves to revert to this kind of backwardness.

The government owes an explanation to all of us as to where it stands with respect to safeguarding the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

If in a nation of 130 million people we cannot afford to give space to one lakh Ahmadiyyas because of the sectarian orthodoxy of a handful, who do not care for civic peace and law and order, what kind of a signal are we putting across in terms of both governance and our credentials as a moderate Muslim country? Certainly nothing to be proud of.

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