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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  January, 2004  ‘Anti-blasphemy act’ to defile Dhaka’s image abroad
‘Anti-blasphemy act’ to defile Dhaka’s image abroad

The Daily Star
Vol. 4 Num 242Thu. January 29, 2004

Front Page

‘Anti-blasphemy act’ to defile Dhaka’s image abroad
Civil society leaders state at a roundtable
Staff Correspondent

Any anti-blasphemy act will portray Bangladesh as an uncivilised country to the world, speakers told a roundtable yesterday.

They alleged the pro-Pakistan factions of the ruling alliance were hyperactive to dent the country’s secular image.

“The coalition government intends to execute a blueprint to turn Bangladesh into a monolithic Muslim country by evicting the marginalised people from home by means of minority repression,” writer Shahriar Kabir told the roundtable, organised by South Asian People’s Union against Fundamentalism and Commu-nalism, in the city.

A fresh law on blasphemy is not necessary, as Section 295/A of the Penal Code can deal with the hurt of religious sentiment, he pointed out.

“Islam does not urge its followers to rectify any body who disregards the messages of Allah with worldly punishment. The holy Quran speaks of punishment only in the after-world,” said Abdul Awal Khan Chowdhury, central missionary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Bangladesh.

The Ahmadiyya leader said neither the Quran nor the Hadith called for enactment of law to protect religion, adding it was not the responsibility of any individual, group or state to penalise anyone for non-compliance with religious tenets.

Citing a verdict of a British magistrate’s court, Professor Muntasir Mamun alleged, “The BNP government works in close ties to pro-Taliban elements.”

Professor AK Azad Chowdhury, former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, accused the government of trying to gain support by creating fanatic sensationalism among the masses.

People should now build up a huge pressure on the judiciary, the administration and parliament to get rid of the situation, he suggested.

“Any anti-blasphemy act will be an excuse for perpetrating repression on the open-minded people,” said Shyamoli Nasrin of Women Voice.

The principal aim of religion is to establish harmony among human beings, not to create divides, said Rosalyn Costa, a human rights activist.

Writer Shamsul Huq, human rights activist Father Tim, advocate Sultana Kamal, Costina Preira of Ain O Shalish Kendra, Professor Ajoy Roy and columnist Mohiuddin Ahmed also spoke at the roundtable, chaired by Justice K M Sobhan.

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