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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  March, 2005  Men who peddle bigotry
Men who peddle bigotry

New Age, Bangladesh
Dhaka, Sunday, March 13, 2005
Men who peddle bigotry

The outrageous manner in which some policemen appeased a band of fanatics in Bogra on Friday by agreeing to put up a sign designed by the bigots on an Ahmadiyya mosque speaks of something sinister that may be at work.
There is a clear and present danger to the state, posed by men who have patently taken it upon themselves to define religion for the country. The more worrying part of the story is that some elements of the administration, especially sections of the police, appear to be involved in the process. The outrageous manner in which some policemen appeased a band of fanatics in Bogra on Friday by agreeing to put up a sign designed by the bigots on an Ahmadiyya mosque speaks of something sinister that may be at work. It should have been the job of the law enforcers to do what they were supposed to do, which is to enforce the law. Instead, what they were doing in Bogra was to add fuel to the fire by clearly violating the rights of the Ahmadiyya community. The question here is not one of who is or is not a Muslim. It is one of a silent, peaceful body of worshippers being made the target of unprovoked attacks by religious fanatics whose motives are obviously the creation of a law and order situation in the country. It is such motives which have been condoned by the Bogra police. It should now be for the government, here in Dhaka, to come forth with an explanation of why the police in Bogra chose to act in a way that was a clear demonstration of partisanship in favour of a frenzied band of men.

   And that surely is not the end of the story. Here in the capital itself, a concerted campaign appears to be going on under the aegis of the self-styled Khatme Nabuwat Movement. It has all along been known that the outfit has been whipping up communal sentiment against the Ahmadiyyas all over the country in the last few months. But what occurred in Dhaka on Friday is clearly a portent of danger. The khatib of Baitul Mukarram, the national mosque, has now made his position clear. He has opined that the Ahmadiyyas be declared non-Muslims. Under what law and by what right he has chosen to act the way he did remains unclear. But for the country as a whole, it is a clear provocation on his and his followers’ part. It is morally indefensible that men who seek, publicly, to plunge the country into religious or communal disorder should be at the helm of such significant organisations or places of worship as Baitul Mukarram. In effect, what the khatib has done is to send out the very bad message that a mosque, a place where the glory of the Almighty is praised and His blessings sought, can at the whims of individuals be turned into a platform for religious and political chaos. The khatib and his friends went even further by making it clear that they will not abide by any ruling by the highest judiciary of the land on the issue of the Ahmadiyyas. That is not only outrageous but a plain and clear threat to the authority of the state and the supremacy of the law. No government with even a minimum of self-esteem can afford to look away from such manifestly bad behaviour on the part of individuals, no matter how well-placed or influential these individuals might be. We therefore ask that the authorities, particularly at the ministry of home, deal swiftly with the matter.

   In a country already gasping for breath because of the endless convulsions caused by its disorderly politics, it should not be expected that we can shield ourselves from new trouble. But to prevent such a situation, it is important that those who are fishing in troubled waters — and right now these are all people clamouring for action against the Ahmadiyyas — are dealt with sternly, in that exemplary sort of way. Anyone in the administration seen to be condoning the actions of these bigots ought to be penalised in the larger interest of the country’s future.


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