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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  August, 2004  Bigots to capture Ahmadiyya mosque today
Bigots to capture Ahmadiyya mosque today

The Daily Star
Vol. 5 Num 94Fri. August 27, 2004

Front Page

Bigots to capture Ahmadiyya mosque today
Civil society vows to resist; police detain 2 top zealots

Staff Correspondent

The Ahmadiyya headquarters in Bakshibazar remains unguarded yesterday, although a group of religious fanatics vowed to capture the mosque there today. PHOTO: STARDhaka is bracing for a probable confrontation, as religious fanatics march today to capture the Ahmadiyya headquarters in Bakshibazar and the civil society gathers there to resist them.

The city is literally sitting on a heap of gunpowder with the zealots of Aamra Dhakabashi, a city-based cultural organisation-turned-Islamist outfit, refusing to withdraw their programme to demolish and occupy the Ahmadiyya complex.

Police at 11:30 last night picked up president of the organisation Shamsul Huq and secretary general Jamal Nasser Chowdhury. Confirming their detention Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (South Zone) Khan Sayeed Hasan told The Daily Star, “As they refused to withdraw the capture programme, we picked them up to ‘persuade’ to do that.”

The two were kept at Lalbagh Police Station until filing this report at 1:00am today.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International in a press release posted on its website on August 24 expressed concern about the safety of people, noting the Ahmadiyya religious community has been the target of a hate campaign by Islamist groups.

Different groups of anti-Ahmadiyya fanatics led by Dhakabashi vowed to say Friday prayers in the Ahmadiyya mosque there and replace its signboard.

“We will say our prayers there and we are ready to sacrifice our lives for this,” Shamsul Huq said at a rally at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque earlier yesterday.

“We will force the government to comply with our demand for declaring Ahmadiyyas non-Muslim.”

On the other front, the South Asian People’s Union against Fundamentalism and Communalism (SAPUFC) called for a civil society resistance to fanatics and the main opposition Awami League threw its weight behind it. The left 11-party will join the resistance programme.

“We will take necessary steps,” State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar told The Daily Star last night. The police said they would not allow any group to attack the Ahmadiyya Complex.

Leaders of the European Union Heads of Mission met Foreign Minister Morshed Khan and expressed concern at the probable clashes.

“The EU Heads of Mission are concerned about the expected siege of the central mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Dhaka as announced by some religio-political groups. The EU Heads of Missions express the need for protection of minorities,” a press release says.

Dhakabashi announced the capture programme in March and held regular meetings with leaders of other Islamist outfits in different parts of the city.

The fanatics attacked the Ahmadiyya base from a shroud procession on August 20, but the police chased them away before they could capture it.

Dhakabashi leaders asked all ‘real Muslims’ to gather at Azad Field in Lalbagh before Juma prayers to head for Bakshibazar in procession.

“We must invade the Ahmadiyya Complex ignoring resistance by the Ahmadiyyas or government,” Huq said.

The SAPUFC and eight legal aid and rights organisaitons sent letters to the home ministry and police to take immediate steps to stop fundamentalist aggression on the Ahmadiyyas.

Talking to The Daily Star on their preparation, Mustafizur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Lalbagh Police Station, said, “We have made sufficient arrangement to stop any attack on the Ahmadiyyas. Police will be there since morning.”

That time DC Hasan said: “We are holding talks with Aamra Dhakabashi leaders to cancel the gathering at Azad field and the capture programme. If talks fail, we have to take action.”

Twenty-two eminent citizens in a statement yesterday urged all to join the civil society resistance to the fanatics.

Professor Kabir Chowdhury, Poet Shamsur Rahman, Sarder Fazlul Karim, Qaiyum Chowdhury, Hena Das, Barrister Shawkat Ali Khan, Prof Mustafa Nurul Islam, Kalim Sharafi, Justice KM Sobhan, Prof Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir and Major General CR Dutt are among the signatories to the statement.

Bangladesh Lekhak Shibir, Bangladesh Chhatra League and Jatiya Mukti Council expressed concern at the planned capture of Ahmadiyya Complex.

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