Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  April, 2005  Where has the coalition government ended up
Where has the coalition government ended up

Dainik Janakantha, Bangladesh
Sunday, April 24, 2005

Where has the coalition government ended up

Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir

When the looter cadres tried to forcibly take out sixteen year-old girl Tahmina, her mother saved her by pleading with them to tears and falling to their feet. 30 thousand taka and 70 thousand taka worth of garments were looted from the shops of Abdul Alim, a businessman of the village.
The Khaleda-Nizami coalition government has taken a political stand on religion-based culture. Attempts are underway, with support and patronization of the state, and in some cases using state-level persecution to combine the minority ideologies or sects that exist in the Islam of Bengal. There are sects or ideologies that are not accepting this state stand on religion-based culture, and for them the adopted strategy is to identify them as non-believers. On behalf of the coalition government the organizations involved in this initiative are Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Oikya Jote and Khatme Nabuwwat. The objective is three-pronged. The first is to strengthen that section of Sunni Islam that supports this coalition. The second is to neutralize the section of Sunni Islam that opposes the coalition government. The third is to declare as non-believers those minorities of Bengali Islam who are not willing to accept the state stand on religion-based culture. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat falls in the third category.

The latest example of state-sponsored, state-perpetrated religious persecution is the mayhem carried out by the cadres of Khatme Nabuwwat in the habitations of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Shyamnagar, Satkhira. There have been incidents of armed looting and [threatened] violation of young woman and housewife. 15 have been seriously injured by merciless beating. 20 families have left the area in face of threats. Death threats are being issued to evict the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat. Vising the Ahmadiyya households in Bhetkhali, Shyamnagar, all houses were found to be locked. None of the members are coming outside. Sekendar Hayat relates of the barbaric mayhem. Abdul Alim, Abu Mahasin, Kalam, Arshad Sheikh, Fariduddin, Abu Wasel Master and widow of Wajed Ali, present in the house of Sekendar Hayat said, they cannot go out since April 18. They cannot go to the market. They are not even allowed to bring water to drink from the Kachhari pond. Antennas of their two mobile phones have been damaged. Even the young children are not allowed to go to school. They cannot go to their private tutors. Their mosque has been vandalized. On Monday night their house was forcibly entered and at arms-point the poultry and coconuts were looted. When the looter cadres tried to forcibly take out sixteen year-old girl Tahmina, her mother saved her by pleading with them to tears and falling to their feet. 30 thousand taka and 70 thousand taka worth of garments were looted from the shops of Abdul Alim, a businessman of the village. On Monday night all belongings were looted from the house of Ahmad Ali Molla of Chhoto Bhetkhali. His wife was also manhandled. All that belonged to Sheikh Alam was also looted and his wife Noorjahan was beaten up and humiliated. Similarly the households of Ayub Ali, Sheikh Abdul Wadud, Abu Bakkar Siddiq and Daud Morol were looted. Faruq, son of Daud Morol, was kidnapped with the aim of forcing him to abandon the Ahmadiyya sect. These families, that have been targets of this attacked, have been threated with eviction from the locality unless they leave the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat. (Source: Janakantha, Jugantor, Bhorer Kagoj: April 18, 19, 20, 2005)

These attacks have nothing to do with religion. The members of the Ahmadiyya community are comparatively well-off. The persecution is aimed at confiscating their land, business and shops. The flag-bearers of this oppression are poor, and these poor people have been incited by the Islam of Jamat [Jamat-e-Islami], the Islam of Islami Oikya Jote and the Islam of Khatme Nabuwwat, something that has nothing to do with the [true] religion of Islam.

This barbarism has its root in the problem of obscurant Islam. But is the foundation of Islam any kind of obscurant Islam? Even regarding this obscurant Islam there is a difference of opinion between the Muslims of Bangladesh (and with Muslims from elsewhere). Nevertheless, based on these very concepts, Muslims are at odds with each other regarding the differences between various sects. This obscurantism is rising in the face of transformation. The obscurants, upset by transformation and fearing it, put forward some authoritative interpretation of religion, in this case Islam, an interpretation that is related to incidents and people of the past. In Islam, just as there is faith, there also are interpretations. The interpretations differ from sect to sect. From the differences there arises authoritarianism. The urge to have an authority over the believers leads to dispute and conflict. This dispute and struggle transcends the boundaries of faith to assume political dimensions. This politicization of religion has an effect on faith itself and to this end the interpretation, explanation and authoritarianism sometimes takes on a ruthless form. The disputes between Shias and Sunnis, between Imam Hasan-Hussain and Yazid (he too was basically a Muslim), between Mazhabis and La-Mazhabis, between Shia-Sunni and Qadiani, is worthy of contemplation. In the world Islam comes in many forms. There are some Muslims in Syria whose practices do not match with those of orthodox Islam. The ways of the practicing Muslims of Indonesia and Malaysia do not necessarily match with those of South Asia. (In Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia Eid may not be the biggest festival of Muslims.) On one hand of these differences is the changing times, and on the other the attempt to reinterpret the norms and concepts of faith in the light of logic guided by heritage.

Ever since the Khaleda-Nizami coalition government came into power, there is an increase in the political, economic and ideological strengths of Jamat, Oikya Jote and Khatme Nabuwwat. And using armed violence attempts are being made to assert this upon that part of the Muslim population which opposes Jamat, Oikya Jote and Khatme Nabuwwat. This collection of people is makes up the majority, but in the term of politics, is not powerful at the moment. Jamat, Oikya Jote, Khatme Nabuwwat has a political dimension of religion, and due to this, political interest mixes with the use of force. This use of force goes against the concept of a modern state, and gives birth to many other moral issues. Khaleda-Nizami’s coalition government does not want a modern state in Bangladesh; neither do they want a rational resolution of prevalent moral issues. Only if a section of the population is declared non-Muslim, will poverty be alleviated, will lack of education be removed, will discrimination go away, or will that lead to an end of extortion, terrorism and killings?

(Translation: ASBT)

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