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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  January, 2004  Ahmadiyya books banned
Ahmadiyya books banned

The Daily Star
Vol. 4 Num 222Fri. January 09, 2004

Front Page

Ahmadiyya books banned
Staff Correspondent

The government has banned all publications of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh a day before the end of an ultimatum by religious bigots to declare the sect non-Muslims.

The move is believed to be the first step towards declaring about one lakh Ahmadiyyas in the country non-Muslims, said a source present at a high-level meeting at the religious affairs ministry yesterday.
“The ban was imposed in view of objectionable materials in such (Ahmadiyya) publications which hurt or might hurt the sentiments of the majority Muslim population of Bangladesh,” said a press release of the home ministry yesterday.

The bigots represented mainly by Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ), a partner of the ruling coalition, have long been campaigning for the move. The Hifazate Khatme Nabuwat Andolon (HKNA), represented by IOJ leaders, spearheads the anti-Ahmadiyya agitation.

The move is believed to be the first step towards declaring about one lakh Ahmadiyyas in the country non-Muslims, said a source present at a high-level meeting at the religious affairs ministry yesterday.

The government has not yet taken any decision on the issue of declaring the Ahmadiyyas non-Muslims, he added.

“We discussed the demand but need to explore all aspects to reach a decision in this regard,” a top government official who was present at the meeting said on condition of anonymity.

In an immediate reaction, Abdul Awal, Missionary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh, said: “We are shocked. The government has bowed down to religious terrorists.”

“The people’s right to the freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution has been violated by taking such a decision,” he said.

State Minister for Religious Affairs Mosharef Hossain Shajahan chaired the meeting held at the ministry. State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar, former chief election commissioner Justice Abdur Rouf and Khatib of Baitul Mokarram National Mosque Obaidul Haque also participated.

The HKNA Amir, Mahmudul Hasan Mamtazi, Secretary General Tafazzul Haq Aziz, Joint Secretary General Nazmul Haq and some other leaders were present, but the Ahmadiyya Jamaat was not represented at the meeting.

Talking to The Daily Star, meeting sources said the government is convinced that the Ahmadiyya literatures hurt majority of the Muslims.

Asked about specific allegations of objectionable materials in any of Ahmadiyya publications, the meeting source did not give further details and said all Ahmadiyya publications carry such materials.

Asked if there were any objectionable materials in any fresh Ahmadiyya publications, the source answered in the negative.

“We have intelligence reports that their literatures carry such materials and there were street agitation demanding ban on the publications and to declare the Ahmadiyyas non-Muslims,” the source said.

Denying that the government took the decision due to pressure from one of its constituents Islamic Oikya Jote (IOJ) which fuelled anti-Ahmadiyya agitation, the source said the government ponder over the matter for a long time and intelligence reports and present and past street agitation prompted the decision.

Although senior ministers earlier said the government was not at all worried about the anti-Ahmadiyya movement, but now they are saying it had always been under consideration, the source said after the meeting yesterday,

When contacted for his comment, one answering the phone at Shajahan’s residence said the minister was unable to attend to phone calls due to indisposition.

“We did not expect it from the government of a democratic country,” he said.

“The government decision proves it has surrendered to religious terrorists, such bigots can realise any demand by creating religious terrorism and any such group can realise any irrational demand through such agitation programme.”

Asked whether they would challenge the government decision, Awal said they are yet to reach any decision in this regard.

Yesterday’s meeting also assured the HKNA of withdrawing two cases filed against some 12,000 anti-Ahmadiyyas activists charged with assaulting policemen guarding Nakhalpara Ahmadiyya mosque on December 5, said HKNA Amir Mamtazi.

“The minister assured us of expediting a previous three-point recommendation by a 18-member Ulema committee formed during the previous BNP government,” he said.

The committee recommended for the declaration of the Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims, banning all their publications and removing all Ahmadiyya people from the administration, Mamtazi claimed.

Following the government decision, the HKNA has cancelled its today’s demonstration at Nakhalpara Ahmadiyya mosque.

“Since the government has initiated the move of declaring the Ahmadiyyas non-Muslims, we have changed our programme,” Mamtazi said, adding they will bring out a procession from Rahim Metal Mosque after Juma prayers today and hold a rally at the Nabisco intersection at Tejgaon Industrial Area later.

The HKNA has been agitating in the city to oust the Ahmadiyyas from their Nakhalpara mosque since November 20 last year.

Anti-Ahmadiyya move across the country assumed new dimension in October 1992 when some people vandalised Bakshibazar Ahmadiyya mosque in the city.

The major attack was a time bomb explosion in a mosque at Nirala Residential Area in Khulna on October 8, 1999 during Juma prayers, which left seven Ahmadiyyas killed and 27 others injured. Another Ahmadiyya, Shah Alam, was killed at Roghunathpur in Jhikargachha, Jessore on October 31. Apart from stray attacks at different places across the country, the anti-Ahmadiyya activists confined many Ahmadiyya families in Bhabanipur in Kushtia, Ambarnagar in Lakkhipur and Fazilpur of Feni.

Yesterday’s government press release reads: The government has banned the sale, publication, distribution and retention of all books and booklets on Islam published by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh, which includes the Bengali or any other translation (with explanation) of the ‘Quran Majid.’

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