Bangladeshi Ahmadiyyas say they face threats
24 June 2006
DHAKA - Bangladesh’s small Ahmadiyya Muslim community said on Saturday it feared attacks on their mosques, homes and people in the country by groups demanding they be declared non-Muslims.
“We are very worried about our safety in the face of continuing threats and intimidation,” said Ahmed Tabshir Chowdhury, a senior Ahmadiyya leader.
“Generally we are happy over the measures the government has so far taken to protect us against vandalism … but we fear the bigots may launch sudden attacks on us, beyond their announced programmes,” he said.
The Ahmadiyyas number only about 100,000 among Bangladesh’s 140 million people, 87 percent of whom are Sunni Muslims.
But Sunnis refuse to accept the Ahmadiyyas as Muslim because they do not believe Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was Islam’s last prophet, and have urged the government to formally declare them non-Muslims.
Last year the government banned Ahmadiyya publications, saying it was necessary to cool down protests and reinforce peace and safety.
On Friday, police prevented activists of Khatme Nabuwat, an umbrella organisation of radical Muslims, from attacking an Ahmadiyya mosque near Dhaka’s international airport.
The group threatened to regroup and storm the mosque again later.
“We have conveyed our concern to the authorities and urged them to reinforce security,” said Tabshir. Police said security around all Ahmadiyya installations had been tightened.
A few months ago, an entire village in eastern Bangladesh rose in protest after a Ahmadiyya woman was buried at a Muslim graveyard. Police eventually convinced the villagers not to dig up her body, but told the Ahmadiyyas not to try it again.