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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  April, 2005  Ahmadiyas and ominous silence
Outrage in Satkhira

New Age, Bangladesh
Dhaka, Thursday, March 21, 2005
Ahmadiyas and ominous silence

There can only be disbelief and a huge sense of disappointment knowing that the government has said not a word about the besieged state of the Ahmadiya community in the country. It appears that the authorities have adopted a clear attitude of looking away from the issue in the expectation that such a position will lead to the problem fizzling out on its own. If indeed that is the policy the authorities have adopted, they can rest assured that it can only lead to greater danger. After what happened to the members of the Ahmadiya community in Satkhira the other day, it becomes absolutely clear that the danger to their lives and property has only taken a new dimension in that they are now almost strangers in their own country. That is a most shameful thing to happen to a community. More tellingly, it is a sad commentary on the powers that be that they are either unable or unwilling to provide security to a section of citizens only because a mob out there is baying for the blood of the community in question.

   The trouble in Satkhira is far from over. The bigots belonging to the Khatme Nabuwat movement, as it calls itself, have through a clear violation of the law set up vigilante squads in and around Ahmadiya-dominated areas with a view to humiliating the besieged community further. Already quite a good number of homes have been ransacked by these ‘votaries’ of Islam and a few Ahmadiyas, injured in the physical assault on them, lie in hospital. It should have been the moral responsibility of the district administration to come to the aid of these helpless people. But because they have not so far, the fanatics clearly feel they have the upper hand and can do anything with impunity. Ahmadiya men have been publicly shamed when they have gone to the market. The situation has now come to a pass where the Ahmadiyas cannot go out of their homes. Their children have stopped going to school and, overall, the men, women and children of the community have been passing their days in absolute agony and fear. And yet the authorities have said nothing. It does not appear either that the nation’s political parties are overly concerned about what happens eventually to the Ahmadiyas, a discernible reason being the matter of votes at the next spate of general elections. The fanatics have already served notice that if the government declares Ahmadiyas non-Muslim, it can expect their votes at the elections. It is from this perspective that other political parties have remained conspicuously silent, in the belief that whatever they do should not result in votes going away from them. It is a mean attitude, positively parochial in outlook, and one that should be roundly condemned by all. What it all amounts to is pandering to the whims and unreasonable demands of a group of people, in this instance the Khatme Nabuwat, that has gone berserk or is intent upon creating religious and communal disorder in the country.

   Meanwhile, as we have all been observing, the freedom with which the bigots have been conducting their nefarious activities in Satkhira has clearly served as a huge encouragement for fanatics in places like Khulna. One does not need much wisdom to know that what is being done to the Ahmadiyas now threatens to turn into a gathering ball of chaos unless the authorities decide resolutely to clamp down on the troublemakers. But while the authorities take their time to decide what course of action, if any, they will follow, it should be for civil society, for human rights bodies, et al, to forge a common stand against the atrocities being perpetrated against the Ahmadiyas in Satkhira, Khulna, indeed all over the country.

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