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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  May, 2004  Minister admits govt’s failure…
Minister admits govt’s failure, victims sniff Jamaat link

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

Front Page

Anti-Ahmadiyya Agitation
Minister admits govt’s failure, victims sniff Jamaat link
Staff Correspondent

Ahmadiyya leaders yesterday said their suspicion were building that Jamaat-e-Islami was behind an international conspiracy to foment anti-Ahmadiyya militancy in Bangladesh and a minister admitted that the government failed to tackle the agitation.

Alarmed by what they termed the government’s assistance to fundamentalist forces to seize books and remove signboards from Ahmadiyya mosques across Bangladesh, the leaders observed that the fanatics were threatening to emerge as a strong force to seize state power.

Talking to BBC yesterday, State Minister for Religious Affairs Mosharef Hossain Shajahan denied the allegation that the government was backing anti-Ahmadiyya demonstrators, but admitted it had failed to tackle them.

“The government is not looking after Ahmadiyyas is untrue. It is doing its best……but failing,” he said, adding the government’s main challenge was to maintain law and order ‘at any cost’.

The minister denied accepting the suggestion that the ban on Ahmadiyya publications was an infringement on the rights of the sect.

On fundamentalists’ demand of the government to declare Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslim, the sect leaders at a press conference said the state was in no position to rule on the issue.

“A quarter is crying for introduction of a blasphemy law and another for declaring us non-Muslim. Fulfilment of the demands would give them heart and push them ahead on their agenda of grabbing state power,” Abdul Awal, missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh (AMJB), told the press conference at AMJB complex in Dhaka.

“Jamaat leader Motiur Rahman Nizami said on May 19 that all ulema were of the opinion that Ahmadiyyas were non-Muslim,” he claimed. “Do the ulema have the authority to give the ruling, violating Almighty Allah’s verses?”

“We have been hammering since 1993 to make the government understand that the roots of anti-Ahmadiyya militancy are in Pakistan and the instigators in that country want to destabilise Bangladesh as they have done on their land.”

The ‘chaos-makers’ are trained and based in Pakistan, he alleged, adding their movement to and from the South Asian country before any anti-Ahmadiyya agitation in Bangladesh prove the ‘sinister links’.

The conference, convened hurriedly in the wake of Friday’s siege to the sect’s mosque in Chawkbazar in Chittagong, brought to light the Ahmadiyyas’ concerns at the rising spate of attacks on them despite demands by national and international organisations to protect the group.

“We’re living under the shadows of extreme insecurity; fundamentalists are scaling up tortures on us, killing us and ousting us from our lands,” said Meer Mobashwer Ali, AMJB Nayeb-e-Amir.

“The government has banned our books violating the constitution and now the police are seizing the publications from our mosques and hanging signboards reading the mosques are merely Qadiani places of worship.

“When they (anti-Ahmadiyyas) tortured our people, vandalised and looted our houses in four villages at Badarganj in Rangpur, police refused to record any case,” he alleged.

Mobashwer pointed out the recent killing of an Ahmadiyya leader in Jessore, confinement of the people of the sect in Kushtia, terrorising of Ahmadiyyas in Panchagarh and Barguna.

“The state minister for religion assured us that they banned our books on January 8 temporarily to calm the agitating anti-Ahmadiyyas and will lift the embargo soon, but he is yet to deliver the promise.”

He said the Ahmadiyya community could not take any legal steps against the ban as the government did not serve them any notice or make any gazette notification.

“Encouraged by the government roles, the fundamentalists seized translated copies of the Quran from our Nakhalpara mosque on April 16,” Mobashwer said.

Police seized the Quran and books of Hadith from Patuakhali mosque on May 12 and a local commissioner posted a signboard asking people not to mistake the structure as a mosque.

Chittagong police on Friday hung similar signboard at their mosque at Chawkbazar in Pakistan-style when a few hundred fundamentalists went there in procession, he alleged.

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