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A Sufi Muslim Leader Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

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Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. Wikimedia Commons

A Sufi Muslim leader in Bangladesh has been hacked to death in a case which police believe could have stemmed from a dispute over land or religious beliefs.

The body of Mohammad Shahidullah, 65, was found in a pool of blood in a mango farm near the north Bangladeshi town of Rajshahi on Friday, May 6, according to police.

The killing came amid rising concerns over a wave of machete killings by suspected Islamic extremists against religious minorities, liberal activists and foreigners in Bangladesh. Over the last five weeks, about a dozen such murders had been reported.

But police were quoted saying that it was too soon to declare that Islamic militants were behind the latest killing.

Related story: Islamic State of Bangladesh- an emerging reality

Nisarul Arif, superintendent of police in Rajshahi, told The Daily Star newspaper that police investigations are “focusing on two possible reasons.”

Shahidullah’s involvement in Sufism might have “hurt” somebody, or it was a consequence of land dispute, he said, according to the newspaper.

A rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Wikimedia Commons
A rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Wikimedia Commons

Abul Kalam Azad, another police officer in Rajshahi, was quoted in The New York Times that the attack on Shahidullah differed from the others in that it did not appear to have been carried out in the open, but rather in a secluded field.

When asked if the police suspected Islamist militants, Azad said it was too soon to tell, according to the report.

Shahidullah was a local leader in Sufism, the mystical form of Islam popular in rural Bangladesh, but considered deviant by many of the country’s majority Sunni Muslims, including the Saudi Arabia-inspired Salafis and Wahabis, who are gaining strength in the country, Agence France-Presse reported.

Sufis have been targeted in several of the 37 suspected Islamist attacks recorded by police in the past three years, it said. In September the custodian of a Sufi shrine and his assistant were killed in the port city of Chittagong.

Shahidulah’s son, Russel Ahmed, filed a murder case over his father’s death with a local police station on Friday.

In the case statement, he mentioned his father as a “spiritual Sufi leader” and that those against Sufism had threatened him in the past, according to The Daily Star.

In the past five weeks, two gay activists, a liberal professor, an atheist activist and a Hindu tailor had been hacked to death.

Islamic militants have been blamed for or claimed dozens of murders of atheist bloggers, liberal voices and religious minorities in recent years including Sufi, Shiite and Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, Christians and foreigners. (BenarNews)

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Vietnam Offering Support to Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned

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Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh. VOA

United Nations World Food Programme in Bangladesh said it welcomed a new contribution of $50,000 from Vietnam to support operations in Coxs Bazar – home to nearly one million Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.

“We are very grateful to Vietnam for stepping up to assist people living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director, in a statement.

“This remains a serious humanitarian emergency, and continued support from the international community is vital if we are to keep providing the humanitarian assistance that is so badly needed.”

Vietnam’s new aid was announced by the Special Envoy of Prime Minister, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Quoc Dzung, during a visit to Bangladesh, according to WPF.

“Although this is a modest contribution, we are hopeful that our support will advance the response to this crisis situation,” he said.

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Rohingya women and children are seen at a temporary shelter in the Kalindi Kunj area of New Delhi, India, April 15, 2018. VOA

Vietnam joins dozens of other states who have pledged their support to the Cox’s Bazar response since the August 2017 refugee influx, said WFP, which provides food assistance to more than 870,000 refugees per month at the sprawling refugee settlement.

The UN agency also provides nutritional and livelihood support to the host community at Cox’s Bazaar, with the aim of helping the most vulnerable, WFP said.

Also Read- US Shutdown Averted, Border Deal Reached

Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned.

Over 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Cox’s Bazar since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence by Myanmar’s military in Northern Rakhine State. Thousands of other Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh during previous periods of repression in Myanmar. (IANS)