Relentless persecution of Ahmadiyyas and the onus of the coalition government
The manner in which the attacks and brutalities meted out to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat by extreme fundamentalists is on the rise since the assumption of power by the BNP-Jamaat led four-party alliance is exemplified in the recent incidents of Satkhira. During a series of home to home attacks from April 17 to 20 in Shyamnagar, Satkhira on the innocent Ahamdiyya Muslims, particular targets were women and Ahmadiyya mosques. The incidents of Ahmadiyya persecution and desecration of mosques in Satkhira are not isolated ones at all. Just as the Khatme Nabuwwat Movement, an associate organisation of Jamaat-e Islami, in pre-declared programmes had forcibly put up signboards on Ahmadiyya mosques in Bogra, Chittagong, Patuakhali and Khulna, in exactly the same manner a signboard of the Khatme Nabuwwat has been put up in a pre-announced programme. Alike other places, in Satkhira as well, police have undertaken this shameful act, taking orders from Khatme Nabuwwat, which is a grave violation of the Bangladesh constitution and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
While putting up signboards on their mosques in Chittagong, Bogra or elsewhere with insulting language hurting their religious sentiments, there have not been any accompanying incidents of house to house attacks, physical torture or looting, as has happened this time in Satkhira. Two women, seriously injured in these attacks by Khatme Nabuwwat militants were transferred to hospitals in Dhaka for treatment. On April 19, leaders of the 11-party alliance and the civil society went to see them in hospital. The injured Ferdousi Begum and Rahima Akhter struggled to describe in sobbing voices the barbaric attacks of the militant fundamentalists. On the same day in Dhaka, Naib-e Ameer of the Ahmadiyya community Professor Meer Mobashsher Ali called a press conference to describe with video footage the militant attacks on them carried out by Khatme Nabuwwat, in which 50 Ahmadiyya members were injured. Leaders of human rights organisations and the civil society were present in this meeting.
The concern and resistance of human rights violations from the civil society is not a new phenomenon in Bangladesh. Since the Khaleda-Nizami alliance government took over power, the first people to come forward to protest aginst the unprecedented atrocities all over the country against minority religious and ethnic groups have been the mass media, the human rights organisations and the intellectual society. Civil society leaders and media representatives have rushed to the spots, collected information on the persecution, consoled the oppressed and boosted their morale, asked the administration to take necessary action to stop the persecution and asked lawyers to assist provide legal assistance to the oppressed. Local administration has very rarely taken legal measures against the oppressors, because every Tom, Dick and Harry of the administration know that the people behind these misdeeds are not only supporters of the coalition government, but their obedient cadres. In case of the Ahmadiyyas the local administration know further how MPs and other leaders of the two major parties in the coalition government, and leaders of associated organisations have been breathing fire every now and then against this benign religious community. The district of Satkhira, where Khatme Nabuwwat militants created a reign of terror, has three members of parliament belonging to Jamaate Islami.
Though the active role of the civil society of Bangladesh in safeguarding human rights has been lauded at the international level, the pro-Taleban Khaleda-Nizami coalition government, their two partner militant fundamentalist parties and and their mouthpieces have always smelled “conspiracy”, “treason” etc. in these efforts. On April 19 last, we went to the press conference arranged by the Ahmadiyya leaders to express our sympathy and commisseration for the oppressed and imperiled members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat. What we wanted to say was that — the people of Bangladesh are not inhuman, barbaric and cruel like the Jamaatis and the people of Khatme Nabuwwat. The number of militant fundamentalists may be a few thousand to a few hundred thousand, the overwhelming majority of the population of this country have never condoned, still does not condone, nor will ever condone any extremism, militancy and attack and persecution of innocent people in the name of religion. Abusing the state power, the more the Jamaatis and their associates indulge in oppression of the people, the more they are being criticized and censured, and the more they become a targets of hatred among the common people.
I have seen on video how filthy language could be used by a Khatme Nabuwwat leader to vilify human rights personality of his father-like age Justice K M Sobhan. Previously, in Nakhalpara, Dhaka, they made extremely uncouth and infuriating remarks regarding Dr Kamal Hossain, Justice KM Sobhan and some of us. Due to this their militant members may be inspired to attack, as they had attacked Professor Humayon Azad with swords and choppers, but the ordinary reader of newspapers and the population at large will never digest with ease these types of loathsome, uncivilised militant acts.
Daily Inquilab, the daily belonging to war-criminal Maulana Mannan, did not like our attending the press conference called by Ahmadiyya leaders on January [April] 19. In our concern and compassion for the persecuted Ahmadiyyas the Inquilabis have discovered anti-Bangladesh and anti-Islamic conspiracies. Regarding this they have issued an editorial and in that they have written, “Though these took place in an isolated manner in a few villages, the incidents of Shyamnagar are doubtlessly serious and a cause for great concern. The main reason for this is that, the situation has been flared up overnight to such proportions at a time when premeditated anti-Bangladesh propaganda, both within and beyond the country has reached an alarming level. The aim of this propaganda is to identify Bangladesh as a terrorist state and as a haven for so-called Muslim militants and fundamentalists, and to incite anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim international forces around the world against Bangladesh. Despite repeated repudiations from the coalition government and all patriotic quarters, there has been no end to this propaganda of these anti-Bangladesh groups. Rather their multifarious machinations continue to be on the rise. Behind all this there is a hidden, far-reaching conspiracy and that is why different countries and organisations are coming forward to act openly in favour of these groups. Since there is nothing to substantiate their complaints, sometimes these groups themselves attempt to destabilise the situation. There have been many instances where such calamitious activities have come to light. Through these it has been established that, to fulfil their own malevolent and destructive objectives the opponents of Bangladesh and Islam have been employing particularly the Qadianis for a long time. Therefore, the question naturally arises as to whether there has been a similar conspiracy in the case of Shyamnagar. Because, at a time when peace and harmony prevails all over the country and when the government and patriotic quarters are trying their level best to prove as false all the anti-Bangladesh propaganda, at exactly such a juncture suddenly Shyamnagar has been ignited. And that is not all. Leaders of these identified groups have reached the Qadiani headquarters posthaste and have created a commotion by claiming that the Qadianis are being persecuted. Coming forward with them have been their supporting dailies. They have not hesitated at all to blow up the incidents manifold. This gives strength to the hypothesis that behind the incidents of Shyamnagar, there may be the conspiratorial hands of the anti-Bangladesh and anti-Islamic elements” (Inquilab, April 21 2005).
If the statement of Inquilab is true then we have to say that the fatwa, “Ahmadiyyas are non-Muslims” was given by us! To tarnish the image of the government and that of the country, it is us who have set the Khatme Nabuwwat against the Ahmadiyyas!! In 1953 in Pakistan, Jamaate Islami was following our instructions in killing 30 thousand Ahmadiyyas!!! There seems to be just no limit to the monkey business of Inquilab.
On April 22 US Ambassador Harry K Thomas went to the Bakshibazar Ahmadiyya Complex to express his sympathy for the persecuted. He has said that he will raise the issue of the attacks of extremist religious fundamentalists on the Ahmadiyyas at a meeting of the US State Department (Bhorer Kagoj, April 24, 2005). What will the image-conscious government do now? The local police however have, since this, registered complaints against 13 persons including two Khatme Nabuwwat leaders and has prohibited Khatme Nabuwwat rallies and processions in Satkhira for one month. But our question is - what will happen after one month? Does the government have the guts to arrest the Khatme Nabuwwat Ameer or Naibe Ameer?
By utter falsehood it may be possible to deny incidents of persecution of other religious and ethnic communities, but the same is not possible in the case of the Ahmadiyyas. Because partners in the coalition government Jamaate Islami and Islami Oikyo Jote, as part of their declared party ideals and objectives, have clamoured to declare the Ahamdiyyas non-Muslims; and under pressure from these two partners, the government, in January 2004, banned all publications of the Ahmadiyyas. Though this ban is stayed at the moment under a High Court order, the fact that the government police is acting like obedient cadres of Khatme Nabuwwat is evident in graphic reports published regularly in all the important Dhaka dailies.
All significant dailies of Dhaka have published reports describing how Khatme Nabuwwat militants in Satkhira have gone attacking from home to home, injuring innocent members of the Ahmadiyya community irrespective of their being women and children, and looting and vandalising their households. All this happened in presence of police and BDR. Police did not resist the attackers on the spot, did not arrest anyone during the attacks and the local police station did not register any complaints from the Ahmadiyyas up to April 22. On top of that, on April 21 the district and police administration summoned Ahmadiyya leaders to their headquarters and confining them for some hours and under threat forced them to sign a memorandum claiming that there has been no attack on them, and admirable peace and harmony prevails in the area!
To unnecessarily persecute any harmless unarmed person is nothing but barbarism. But instead of taking legal action against the offenders, and protecting the oppressed, to forcibly take a disclaimer from the persecuted denying the incidents of persecution is far more barbaric. This has happened before as well in Bhola and other places when Hindus were targets of atrocities, this time it has happened in Satkhira for the case of Ahmadiyyas.
So far, we knew that Khatme Nabuwwat is an associate organisation of Jamaate Islami, with its headquarters in Multan, Pakistan. During their attacks on Ahmadiyyas in Bogra in March and in Satkhira in April, Khatme Nabuwwat leaders have claimed that the entire government administration including the BNP is in their favour. Before the attack in Bogra, speaking on how to teach Justice KM Sobhan a lesson, the Naibe Ameer of Khatme Nabuwwat Nur Hossain Nurani told his party workers, “Tareq Zia [son of PM Khaleda Zia and senior leader of BNP - translator] is our Ameer and comrade. We will call him and then put (Justice KM Sobhan) on trial.” In Satkhira, before attacking the Ahmadiyyas, the same person, while speaking to local journalists, said, “We think that since the President, Prime Minister, Armed Forces Chief, Police Chief, BDR Chief — are all Muslims, we can assume that they are all sympathetic to this organisation.” Talking about his good terms with the Intelligence Branch, he claimed further, “DGDFI Major General Sadeq Hasan Rumi has met us thrice. We have given (him) our draft of the proposed law” (from video recordings).
While talking to journalists in Satkhira, Khatme Nabuwwat’s Maulana Nurani has uttered many more lies. He has claimed that High Courts in 37 countries of the world have declared the Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims. When a journalist wanted to know the names of the 37 countries, he murmured of Pakistan and South Africa but could not say anything further. He said, the names of these countries are in one of their books, but he does not remember. The truth is that, no country other than Pakistan and Malaysia have officially declared the Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims. It is true that in a few Muslim majority countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia associates of Jamaat [Jamaate Islami] have indeed gone to High Court to get Ahmadiyyas declared as non-Muslims — but the courts have rejected their pleas.
We know very well that the Jamaatis outdo even Goebbles when in comes to falsehood. But, in public gatherings or in front of journalist’s cameras, when Khatme Nabuwwat leaders like Nurani claim that “Tareq Zia is our Ameer and comrade“, then it is important for us to know the stand of the BNP’s most powerful leader in this regard. Even more important for us is to know whether or not the President, Prime Minister and Armed Forces Chief are supporters of Khatme Nabuwwat and whether or not the head of DGDFI General Hasan has met Khatme Nabuwwat thrice and expressed any kind of sympathy and support. The Naibe Ameer of Khatme Nabuwwat has claimed these in public. If his claims are incorrect, then the Head of State, Head of Government, the government itself and top leaders of the ruling party should protest this. If anyone attempts to fulfil some ulterior motive banking on the names of such dignified personalities then he can be brought to justice under Section 505 of the Bangladesh Penal Code for fabrication, contempt and spreading of rumours.
Khatme Nabuwwat Naibe Ameer Nur Hossain Nurani has claimed before journalists that he knows the laws very well, and that he is an Islamic Barrister! He said that, he had not become a Barrister by “studying 511 rotten sections of the English Penal Code“. He has studied the 6666 statements of law from God to become an Islamic Barrister! We are not aware of any country awarding the title of Islamic Barrister, but we need to know, where in the laws given by God has falsehood been declared valid. Maulana Nurani has to tell us when and how South Africa and 35 other countries declared Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims. While putting up the signboard on the Satkhira mosque, the Khatme Nabuwwat leaders have told the police that in Bangladesh, publications of the Ahmadiyya community are banned, and that there is a good deal of literature in the Sundarban mosque that need to be seized. Showing photographs from other newspapers of police putting up Khatme Nabuwwat signboards, they argued that all this is being done in accordance with the Constitution; if police can put up signboards elsewhere, why can’t they put it up in Satkhira. There are many examples of such treacherous and false talk from Khatme Nabuwwat leaders. The government has to answer, how long will they bear the burden of this falsehood, violation of the constitution, deprival of human rights and this pandemonium of militant fundamentalists. Forcibly taking a signature on a memorandum from the oppressed does not turn the realities of persecution into a lie. If penal actions are not taken against Khatme Nabuwwat and its patronisers, then the government will have to bear the onus of every single incident of attack and oppression on its innocent population.