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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  June, 2006  Ahamadiyyas: …
Ahamadiyyas: A beleaguered minority

New Age, Bangladesh
Dhaka, Thursday, June 22, 2006
Ahamadiyyas: A beleaguered minority

IN THE normal mode of administering a state it is the government which warns law breakers to desist from a transgression or else stern action shall be taken. In this case it is the other way round: law breakers are repeatedly warning the government to either enforce sectarian apartheid against a group of their fellow citizens or face dire consequences. That the drive against Islamist extremists has acted as no more than a temporary restraint is evident from the new militancy being demonstrated by some groups.

   The anti-Ahamadiya elements under the banner of the International Khatme Nabuwat Movement whose activities had two years ago gravely imperilled social cohesion are again at their old job. Last Friday they held a rally at Nabisco crossing at Tejgaon in the city urging the government to declare the Ahamadiyyas/Kadiyanis non-Muslim in the current session of parliament, or else face ‘dire consequences’. They also threatened to drive out the Ahamadiyyas from the country through a series of programmes if the government failed to do their bidding.

   Sweeping under the carpet a bomb that can destroy a modern democratic polity is no solution; the government should have gone all out to defuse the bomb. Instead it vacillated, mollified the extremists, ignoring the danger of exposing a group of citizens to the wrath of extremists due to differences relating to the spiritual realm. The IKNM also demanded that the government discuss the issue with Islamic leaders and ‘solve the problem’ by declaring the Ahamadiys as religious minorities in the country to avoid ‘any untoward situation and bloodshed’. The question is, what good will discussion with religious leaders bring when the IKNM has already ‘solved’ the issue their own way? For their rally they chose the site which is close to an Ahamadiya mosque — another proof of their warring attitude. Two years ago they were leading a highly charged sectarian hate campaign in different parts of the country to the point where members of Ahamadiya sect found it difficult to move out of doors. The government failed to grant them protection, or even verbal reassurance; just as it has failed to protect from the clutches of law breakers the religious minorities and ethnic minorities. Last Friday, happily, local residents tried to resist the law breakers and this popular awareness is a commendable safeguard against saboteurs.

   Whether the IKNM people or other zealots regard the Ahamadiyyas as Muslims or not is their own affair, but they cannot expect the state to back them in their war against fellow citizens. What is particularly unfortunate is that the police in past instances directly or indirectly aided the militants. It never pays to encourage intolerance. Any concession here may turn out to be the thin end of the wage. Why only the Ahamadiyyas, the militants are also attacking the mazars because the mazar goers are not true Muslims according to them. The government already showed the militants undue indulgence by proscribing all Ahamadiya publications, although we are told religious freedom exists in this country. It is now clear that religious freedom exists for some but not for all. The country, it seems, has deviated far from the values of the liberation war. Enough has happened recently to give the government the message that no quarter should be given to religious extremism.

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