Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  December, 2005  Religious bigotry …
Religious bigotry needs firm handling

New Age, Bangladesh
Dhaka, Thursday, December 22, 2005
Religious bigotry needs firm handling

It is the moral responsibility of the government to respond to the challenge through going after the patently unlawful activities of the anti-Ahmadiyya individuals and organisations.
The advocates of sectarian disorder have once again served notice on the government about the need to hound the Ahmadiyya community into a corner. These elements have for months now been engaged in a wilful and well-organised campaign to push the country to a situation where an unnecessary conflict can be the only consequence. One would have thought that by now the authorities would have come down hard on the programme of hatred that such fanatical organisations as the Khatme Nabuwat have been peddling over a long period of time. The unfortunate fact is that the government has chosen to look the other way every time the Ahmadiyyas have come under a fresh new threat. To be sure, the prime minister has expressed her concern about the problem, through appealing to religious figures to use their influence in containing the moves made by the bigots. While one appreciates such concern, one cannot at the same time avoid suggesting that the absence of concrete administrative measures to ensure the security of the Ahmadiyyas and deal firmly with the fanatics has already affected our standing in the outside world.

   The religious bigots, having already appropriated the Islamic faith for themselves, have now warned the government that it must declare the Ahmadiyya community non-Muslim by next Friday. That is a clear challenge to the authority of the government and the constitutional basis of the state. It is the moral responsibility of the government to respond to the challenge through going after the patently unlawful activities of the anti-Ahmadiyya individuals and organisations. And it is the job of the state to ensure that the foundations on which it shaped itself, namely, secularism and democracy, are not in any way allowed to be tampered with. Which means that the longer the fanatics are allowed to get away with their parochialism, indeed their misplaced zeal about maintaining the ‘purity’ of their version of faith, the bigger will be the threat that the country will be expected to cope with. The danger here is that unless the government is willing to move against such designs against religious and sectarian harmony in the country soon, the nation could well be facing a situation similar to what it happens to be experiencing over the issue of the Jama’atul Mujahideen and Bangla Bhai. For far too long, the ruling circles went on denying the existence of any fundamentalist threat to democratic order. Such an attitude only led us to a condition where fundamentalism simply turned into a worse thing: it became religious terrorism. We are all, at this dark point in our national history, engaged in an uphill battle to uproot and then eliminate these dangerous men who have pushed us into circumstances that are as sinister as those we confronted during the War of Liberation. It could be a similar case with the anti-Ahmadiyya situation. It is not enough for the police to help the community put up the signboards on their mosques after they have been torn down by bigots. What is called for is a clear demonstration of firmness on the part of the government. That means a hauling up of anyone involved in inciting people to hatred of the Ahmadiyyas and dealing with them in terms of the established laws relating to a maintenance of civil order.

   There is little place for the timorous in governance. And there can be no happiness in seeing a band of bigots, parading around so outrageously with what may well be encouragement from outside the country, make a whole nation look foolish by its inability to protest their dark campaign of fury and hate. We as a people are absolutely unwilling to exchange our secular decency for communal or sectarian medievalism.

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