Morshed tells US team: Govt firm to protect interest of all faiths
By UNB, Dhaka
Wed, 1 Mar 2006, 11:28:00
Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan Wednesday said the Government is committed to protecting the rights, life and property of the people of all faiths including the Ahmadiya community in Bangladesh.
Khan made the remarks when a five-member delegation of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) called on him at his office.
The delegation led by its Chair Michael Cromartie enquired about religious tolerance, recent bombings, Ahmadiya issue and election reforms in the country.
On terrorist incidents using the name of Islam, the Minister said a “few ignorant and half-educated people were responsible behind the series of bombings, but the law enforcing agencies and motivational campaign by Islamic leaders along with people of all walks of life have proven effective in combating such incidents.
Khan said Bangladesh is a multi-religious, multi-cultural and multiethnic society. He said harmonious co-existence of the people of different faiths is a very old traditional heritage of Bangladesh.
He mentioned that last Ramadan and Durga Puja, the main religious festivals of the Muslims and the Hindus were celebrated at the same time without any untoward incident.
On election issue, Khan apprised the delegation of the electoral procedure of Bangladesh which was designed by all major political parties. He said last three general elections were held in a free and fair manner under non-party caretaker government.
Delegation members Felice D Gaer, Vice Chair of the Commission and Preeta D Bansal, Commissioner also took part in the discussion. US Charge d’ Affaires Judith Chammas was present at the meeting.
Jamaat-e-Islami Amir and Industries Minister Matiur Rahman Nizami Wednesday told a US commission that those trying to prove Bangladesh as an unstable, dysfunctional and failed state are patronizing the bombers and terrors.
Those who are involved in bombings and terrorism have no relations with Islam, he said in a meeting between Jamaat and the visiting delegation of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIR) at Jamaat central office.
“In Bangladesh, there is no conflict and clash of religions…Everyone is respectful and sympathetic to everyone’s religious faith,” he told the delegation.
Refuting allegations, Nizami said that after the last election, there was no incident of any kind of clash-conflict on the basis of religion in the country.
“Although there was no incident of any minority oppression in the country, a vested quarter has run a propaganda campaign both at home and abroad with fictions of minority oppression,” he told the Americans.
Terming Islam a religion that teaches tolerance for other religions, Nizami said the followers of Islam are respectful towards the great men of other religions. Therefore Muslim scholars never show any disrespect to any great men of other religion or disparage them.
“But, often in the western world there is a bid to assassinate the character of Prophet Mohammad (SM) character by disparaging him,” he said, citing recent slanderous cartoons about Prophet Mohammad (SM) published in newspapers in many European countries, including Denmark.
Stressing the need for dialogues and exchange of views between people from different religious faiths, the Jamaat chief said inter-religion dialogues could contribute significantly to establishing world peace and removing misunderstanding.
Assistant secretaries-general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Kader Molla attended the meeting for Jamaat. The USCIR delegation headed by Commissioner Michael Cromartie comprised vice-chair Felice D Gaer, past chair Preeta D Bansal and senior policy analyst Stephen R Snow. US Embassy political officer Denise Jobin Welch was also present on the occasion.
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