Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Govt need to act against Ahmadiyya tormentors

New Age, Bangladesh
15/11/2011 00:00:00
Govt need to act against Ahmadiyya tormentors

MEMBERS of the Ahmadiyya community, a minority sect of Islam, are once again exposed to intimidation. This time, they have been barred from building a mosque at a village in Tangail, although, in line with Article 41 of the constitution, ‘every citizen has the right to profess, practice or propagate any religion’ and ‘every religious community or denomination has the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions’. According to a report published in New Age on Tuesday, the victims have pointed fingers to the law enforcers, who are supposed to protect their rights, for that violation. A local leader of the Ahmadiyya community alleged that while members of the Ahmadiyya community at Chantara village under Ghatail upazila started fencing their land in a bid to construct a mosque Monday morning, the police came to the spot and stopped their activities apart from pulling down the fencing.

It is pertinent to recall that Ahmadiyyas are a beleaguered community in Bangladesh. A section of religious bigots have sought to prevent them from practising their faith for years. Besides, they have clamoured during this period that the government declare Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims which is altogether affront not only to democratic values but also to the spirit of religious harmony. Worse, they have unleashed attacks on them and their homes and places of worship on several occasions. Regrettably, however, successive governments have hardly taken any deterrent steps against these crimes. Rather, they appear to have pursued an appeasement policy when it comes to dealing with such bigotry. All this may have, on the one hand, emboldened the bigoted elements in society to continue their misdeeds and, on the other, prompted the law enforcing agencies to give indulgence to the tormentors of the Ahmadiyyas.

Most people in Bangladesh, irrespective of their religious faiths, believe in communal harmony; the bigots are essentially a minority. If the government is serious, it can tackle such bigotry that is posing a danger to our syncretistic social fabric, developed over centuries. Ironically, the denial of rights of a community occurs at a time when a political force, which usually loves to be identified as the defender of that secular entity of the country, is in power. The incumbents indeed need to do something decisive to ensure the rights of all minorities, including the Ahmadiyyas, as well as to thwart the overall activities of the bigots.

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