B'desh ban on Ahmadiyya books resented
By Trevor Barnard in London
Tuesday, 13 January , 2004, 22:01
The leader of the world wide Ahmadiyya community, who is based in Britain, has condemned the ban imposed by the government of Bangladesh on all publications produced by the Muslim Community.
Preaching a sermon at the new Baitul Futuh Mosque in South London, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad declared: The government of Bangladesh ought to take a lesson from its neighbours and should do what a government is required to do, that is the running of government, and not interfere in matters of faith and religion. They should be wary of Allahs wrath.
Following a spate of violence against Ahmadiyyas in Bangladesh - which community leaders say was inspired by orthodox Muslim clergy - the Dhaka government last week banned the sale, publication and retention of all works on Islam stemming from Ahmadiyya sources, including a Bengali translation of the Koran.
Community leaders have sensed a growing atmosphere of persecution in Bangladesh over several months, and consider it significant that the ban came within a few days of Prime Minister Khaleda Zias return from the SAARC summit in Islamabad. They fear that the repression of the community in Pakistan is spreading to Bangladesh, and can also see signs of a similar trend in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The National President of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Rafiq Ahmed Hayat, urged the Bangladesh government to repeal the "arbitrary and unconstitutional act" and to protect the fundamental rights of Ahmadiyyas. He welcomed the stand taken by the Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has said that the ban violates freedoms of religion and thought. Hayat also praised the Bangladeshi Press for speaking out against religious extremists.