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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  April, 2005  Outrage in Satkhira
Outrage in Satkhira

New Age, Bangladesh
Dhaka, Tuesday, March 19, 2005
Outrage in Satkhira

The police were either powerless to prevent the violence or were clearly unwilling to come to the aid of those attacked.
The attack on the Ahmadiyya community by a band of religious fanatics in Satkhira on Sunday demonstrates anew the national concern over the activities of the so-called Khatme Nabuwat movement. In the name of a defence of the Islamic faith, these bigots have for a long time been engaging themselves in activities that are a clear attempt to create chaos in the country. The irony in the whole situation is that when the country is trying to emerge from its existing social and political crises, the fanatics have somehow found the wherewithal to create a new problem that need not have been there. With the new attack, this time in a violent manner, on the members of the Ahmadiyya community, it becomes obvious that some very powerful forces are behind the bigots as they go from one atrocious act to another. It is in the fitness of things therefore that the authorities now go seriously and purposefully into the business of identifying the elements who may be patronising, morally, financially and in other ways, the Khatme Nabuwat in its campaign of creating disorder in the name of ensuring religious purity.

   It goes without saying that Bangladesh has by and large been a land of communal harmony. We will not pretend, however, that everything has been perfect in this country either before or after liberation in terms of a practice of the various faiths. But it is true that all governments and the entire Bengali nation have resolutely come down on any attempt by fringe elements to create the conditions which could upset the fabric of peaceful religious activity in the country. Of late, though, such bodies as the Khatme Nabuwat have demonstrated a hitherto unimaginable degree of audacity in their determination to have the Ahmadiyyas declared non-Muslim. For their part, the Ahmadiyyas do not appear to have said, done or propagated anything that could even remotely be construed as an incitement to trouble. The bigger problem in all this Ahmadiyya-related trouble is that some important people, including the khatib of Baitul Mukarram, have contributed their bit. Worse is the fact that the authorities have done precious little to take all these troublemakers to task even when it has been made clear that there is a patent threat to law and order here. All that the authorities have done every time Ahmadiyyas have come under siege anywhere in Bangladesh is to deploy police around their homes and places of worship for such time as their enemies bayed for their blood before going home. In Bogra, the police went quite a bit of the way to placate the bigots when they had the Ahmadiyya sign on a mosque replaced by one prepared by the bigots themselves. That was as outrageous as it was humiliating for the already beleaguered Ahmadiyyas. And now in Satkhira, matters have moved one more dark step forward. News reports speak of the homes of Ahmadiyyas coming under attack by the fanatics. As many as fifty women and children have been injured in the attack and their valuables have been looted by the marauders. The police were either powerless to prevent the violence or were clearly unwilling to come to the aid of those attacked.

   The authorities should be reading the writing on the wall. And for the country’s civil society, the imperative is to build up a movement that will not only thwart the nefarious activities of any organised band of chaos makers but also ensure that this is a land where the freedom of faith applies equally to each and every citizen. Anyone who is uncomfortable with that inviolable truth must be dealt with by the law of the land.

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