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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  June, 2006  Ahamadiyya issue: …
Ahamadiyya issue: an acid test for the government

New Age, Bangladesh
Dhaka, Sunday, June 25, 2006
Ahamadiyya issue: an acid test for the government

It is not usual for us to repeat in this column a topic within a space of three days. After writing on the Islamist zealots’ battle cries targeting the minority helpless members of the minority Ahamadiyya sect on Thursday, we have to revert to the same subject considering the grave urgency it represents. The fanatic elements wanting to divide the nation by imposing some kind of religion-based apartheid are unrepentant and growing in virulence. Their call to drag the state in their hate campaign against a group of citizens who are doing no harm to others or to the country, is a threat to the unity of the people, to the norms and values of our democratic polity. Therefore the doings of anti-Ahamadiyya groups of militants cannot be dismissed lightly. It is immaterial how big is the crowd bent on headhunting of the Ahamadiyyas. It is not difficult to rally people by raising ethnic, communal and sectarian hysteria. It is not difficult to torpedo the norms and values that have been laboriously built up over decades. Those in charge must meet the challenge. The difference between people and mob is not just numerical but mainly behavioural; it is hoped that the government will treat a lawless crowd as a lawless crowd, regardless of its size and strength.

   In fact the government’s pusillanimity in dealing with the fanatics in the past has not helped matters at all. Those Islamist militants who do not hurl bomb but are engaged in activities which will destroy the foundation of our society based on equality and harmony, deserve no leniency. We believe in full religious freedom of all citizens. To perceive a religious school as Muslim or non-Muslim also comes under this freedom and we have no intention to influence the perceivers either way. But we resolutely oppose involvement of the state in issues concerning religious divergence. Such divergence in belief and practice exists and may exist in future among the mainstream Muslims also; this cannot be allowed to lead to persecution of the weaker groups.

   After making a big show on Friday at Tejgaon close to an Ahamadiyya mosque they again held a massive rally at Uttara last Friday threatening to capture the Zia International Airport unless the Ahamadiyyas are declared non-Muslim in the current session of Parliament. Three thousand policemen had to be deployed at different points in the area as a preventive measure. Agitators blocked Naroda-Ashkona link road for hours and their leaders with his followers headed for the Ahamadiyya complex and might have created a major law and order situation but for strict police cordon. They have threatened to drive the beleaguered Ahamadiyyas out of the country. The strength and virulence of the anti-Ahamadiyyas represent an acid test for the government.

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