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Bangladesh: Sectarian intolerance


Before the day of Eid-ul-Azha on October 27, ANC again threatened to attack the Ahmadis. Fearing the attacks, Akkasur went to the Taraganj police station on October 26 to record a general diary. Although the police received his letter, they refused to register the general diary. 

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: New Age | BD Online
By New Age | December 21, 2012

Ananta Yusuf reveals how authorities of the local administration including the police turned a blind eye to the alerts and concerns, the Ahmadiyyas expressed about possible attacks on them until they materialised last month

In 2000 Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at started its missionary endorsement in Kisamat Menanagar, Taraganj of Rangpur. Two years later, with few disciples Akkasur Rahman erected a makeshift mosque and prayer hall.
‘Less than a week after we started offering our prayers at the new mosque local villagers became furious at us and asked us to stop praying,’ says Akkasur, adding that they did not stop.

Within weeks, angry anti-Ahmadiyyas near the ancient Menanagar Bara Masjid waged aggressive campaigns against the minority group, burning their makeshift mosque to ashes.

Ahmadiyyas are a minority Muslim sect practicing their religion under the realm of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, as the promised messiah and Mahdi, whose appearance is promised in the Holy Quran.

‘Absolutely we believe in the almighty Allah and his last prophet Muhammad (SM), says Meer Mobashsher Ali, one of the leaders of Bangladesh Ahmadiyya Muslim Ja’maat. ‘We only convey the realm of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the promised messiah and Mahdi, as his appearance is promised in the Holy Quran,’ iterates Mobashsher.

However, the Sunni Muslim population, being the majority religious sect of Bangladesh differs on the belief system of the Ahmadiyyas. Mobashsher tells Xtra that the intolerance against their religion is because of a distortion about the belief of all Ahmadiyyas.

The saga of vengeance continued since early 2000, the latest of which tore down the Ahmadiyya Muslim’s Mosque at Taraganj in Rangpur on November 7 and set ablaze houses of the Ahamdiyya families.

Following disputes over the makeshift mosque leading up to 2002, Ahmadiyyas and the agitators came to a negotiation that the mosque and their houses be moved about 1.25 kilometres away, in a Hindu dominated village under the same union. They erected the mosque again in 2004. Since then the Ahmadiyyas have been offering their prayers there for the last eight years.

A new tension emerged when, on August 24 this year, foundation for a mosque with concretes was laid in place of the makeshift mosque. The construction work continued uninterrupted till October 5, when a group of extreme anti-Ahmadiyyas came at the site and obstructed the work. They threatened the Ahmadiyyas to stop the construction.

On hearing this, the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) suggested postponing the construction work and stopping all the religious activities for one month.

In the interest of peace, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Ja’maat complied with the request until within a week anti-Ahmadiyyas provoked local population to raze the mosque under construction.

On October 25, at around 11:30am, following the instigation, locals led an aggressive procession pelting stones at Ahmadi households. The police arrived within an hour and brought the situation under control.

The same day the procession led by former chairman of Harierkuthi union Nur Hussain, Menanagar Bara Mosque secretary Abdul Haq, Abdul Kadir, Rafiqul Islam Kaji, Anisul Haq and Sogir Uddin went on to the nearby Dangirhat marketplace and formed the Ahmadiyya Nirmul Committee (ANC) to contain the minority religious community.

Akkasur Rahman recalls, ‘Agitators threatened us and framed a time limit to relinquish our faith by November 5. They repeatedly warned that unless we give up our faith, our households will be demolished and set on fire.’

Before the day of Eid-ul-Azha on October 27, ANC again threatened to attack the Ahmadis. Fearing the attacks, Akkasur went to the Taraganj police station on October 26 to record a general diary. Although the police received his letter, they refused to register the general diary.

The officer in charge of Taraganj police station, MD Moftafizer Rahman could not recall the police denying his general diary, he adds, the police must have done whatever they could do for the Ahmadis.

On the sacred day of Eid-ul-Azha, locals alleged that law enforcers looking the other way gave the agitators opportunity to attack the house of Rafikul Islam, an Ahmadiyya devout. He along with his family members had to flee from their house, fearing attack on them. They left leaving behind their valuables and savings. In tears, Rafikul states that the agitators killed his cow. ‘I do not understand what the cow did that they slaughtered it.’

The police remained bystander during the attack, victims allege. However, police claim that their appearance stopped the vandalism.

On November 4, Akkasur Rahman wrote a letter to the District Commissioner (DC) informing him about the chances of further attack on Ahmadiyya followers. ‘I wrote a letter addressing both the DC and Superintendent of Police (SP) to take immediate steps to save us. But they did nothing.’

Continuous looking away by the local representatives encouraged vandalism and looting on November 7. Chairman of Harierkuthi Union claims that on November 6, a meeting was held at local lawmaker Anisul Islam Mondol’s residence. He fears that the meeting, ‘brought miseries to the Ahmadiyya follower.’

A common rumour about Ahmadiyya is that the Ahmadiyya do not believe Mohammad as the last prophet and take their weekly prayer, Jummah on Sunday. Anti-Ahmadiyya extremists propagandise the distortion of faith and use them to create rage among general people. The attack, arson and looting on November 7, were carried out as part of this series of propagandas.

On November 7 at 11:00am, Akkasur Rahman got to know that the ANC was preparing to attack the mosque after Jummah. Although he alerted the police, they came after the vandalism started at around 1:30pm. Police with a small force containing five personnel did nothing and took position on the roadside. As the small troops failed to stop the agitators, vandalism went on till 7:00pm that evening.
 
Abul Kashem from Menanagar, who took part in the agitation, says police was just an observer while they vandalised the area. ‘We took whatever we wanted from the prayer hall, even the bricks. I don’t think we did anything wrong because they insulted our beloved prophet. It is our responsibility to rise against our prophet’s abusers.’

Photos and video clips show that the ANC used children between 10 and 16 to wage attack against the Ahmadiyyas. According to the draft Children Act 2012, ‘child’ and ‘youthful offender’ are defined as anyone under 16.

A day after the vandalism, on November 8, local administrative office arranged a negotiation meeting at the office of UNO. They invited the central leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Ja’maat.

Abdul Awwal Khan Chowdhury, naib national ameer and missionary in charge of Ahmadiyya Muslim Ja’maat Bangladesh, who was also invited, alleges to Xtra that the meeting was, although scheduled to be held at 10:00am, was finally held at 4:30pm and lasted only 15 minutes without a fair verdict.

‘The meeting was concluded in a one-sided manner as Ahmadis could not represent their sides despite being invited. The upazila chairman Nurunnabi Dulal took the anti-Ahmadiyya side and concluded the meeting with a declaration that they will not allow Ahmadis to build a mosque within 1.5 kilometres of the Kismat Menanagar Bara Mosque owned by the non-Ahmadis,’ says Awwal.

Awwal considers this absolutely illegal and in clear violation of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Bangladesh.

Article 41 of the Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees that every citizen of Bangladesh 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.

Faustina Pereira, director of BRAC human rights, shares that Article 41 also guarantees the non-believers (of God) to enjoy freedom and refrain from all the institutional religion based obligation. ‘So, this is absurd and I am horrified to observe such bigotry in the name of real Muslim or otherwise to the Ahmadis who believe in a single-God and are bowing to the same God of the majority Muslims.’

Professor Kazi Nurul Islam, noted academician and founder chairman of the department of World Religions and Cultures of the University of Dhaka, shares ‘Whatever it is, the persecutors should discuss the matters with the Ahmadiyyas rather than harassing the innocents, as the latter seems to have been maintaining peaceful propagation within the society.’

Referring to certain verses of the holy Quran, Nurul says that Muslims have a responsibility to protect all the believers of God. He continues, ‘Harassment or persecution on innocent, beyond their race, religion or beliefs is strictly forbidden in Islam.’

Terming the zealots as ‘fanatic’, Nurul tells Xtra that Muslims have been ordered to never attack places of worship. ‘No one has given the right to the fanatic Muslims in Bangladesh to declare the Ahmadis non-Muslims. If anyone has dissatisfaction with the belief of Ahmadiya, they should go to court and file a writ petition against the believers rather than attacking them.’

Read original post here: Sectarian intolerance

This content-post is archived for backup and to keep archived records of any news Islam Ahmadiyya. The views expressed by the author and source of this news archive do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Ahmadiyya Times.

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