|For Immediate Release
Dr. Ijaz Qamar 905-949-1835
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada
Persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Bangladesh - Community in Canada Concerned about plight of persecuted members in Bangladesh - Pleas for Urgent Intervention
Maple, Ontario, Canada, January 12, 2004 6:00am -The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Canada is very concerned about the plight of Ahmadi Muslims in Bangladesh. In a letter to the Foreign Minister of Canada, Honourable Bill Graham, MP, the President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada, Mr. Naseem Mahdi has requested the intervention of Government of Canada for the safety of Ahmadi Muslims in Bangladesh, and the protection of their rights.
The Government of Bangladesh has issued a press release on Thursday, Jan 8, 2004, banning all publications of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Bangladesh. The official text states:
"The government has banned the sale, publication, distribution and retention of all books and booklets on Islam published by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Bangladesh, which includes the Bengali or any other translation (with explanation) of the Quran Majid. The ban has been imposed in view of objectionable materials in such (Ahmadiyya) publications which hurt or may hurt the sentiments of the majority Muslim population of Bangladesh."
Numerous organizations inside Bangladesh have protested the ban, including the Supreme Court Bar Association of Bangladesh, whose President, Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, has described the government order as being in clear violation of the constitution which guarantees freedom of religion (Article 41), non-discrimination on ground of religion (Sub-article 3 of Article 28) and freedom of speech, thought and conscience (Article 39).
The ban follows a violent campaign against Ahmadi Muslims by religious bigots, represented mainly by Islami Oikya Jote (a partner of the ruling coalition), with Hifazate Khatme Nabuwat Andolon (a fundamentalist group), to force the government to declare the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as non-Muslim. The authorities had up to now reaffirmed the equality of all citizens before the law, and vowed to resist the pressure tactics of the fundamentalist.
It is to be noted that last Thursdays order was accompanied by an announcement that the government had decided to withdraw cases against 12,000 anti-Ahmadiyya activists charged with assaulting policemen while attacking an Ahmadiyya mosque in Dhaka on Dec 5, 2003.
This about-face signals that the government has decided to move towards accepting the demand of the bigots, namely that Ahmadi Muslims be declared non-Muslims. This is a baffling decision, since a neighbouring country - namely Pakistan - went down the same path in 1974. While Ahmadi Muslims remained attached to peaceful ways, the very decision of the Pakistani government somehow unleashed the demons of sectarian violence and fundamentalist terrorism that have been witnessed ever since
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Canada protests the outrageous action of the Bangladesh government and requests that all parties, organizations and individuals who support justice and the freedom of conscience intervene with the Bangladesh government and persuade it to revoke the banning order and to take all measures to guarantee and protect the rights of all its citizens equally.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a global religious organization established in over 100 countries with millions of followers. The Community was founded in 1889 in India by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be the promised reformer as foretold by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, 1,400 years ago.
For more information contact
Dr. Aslam Daud
National General Secretary
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada (Head Office)
10610 Jane Street, Maple, Ontario, L6A 3A2
Tel: (416) 416-560-7933 Fax: (905) 832-3220
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.Ahmadiyya.ca