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Bangladesh denunciates religious extremism and attacks on minorities

"Let us join our hands to resist such anti-Islamic activities. They must be punished so that others would not dare to do the same"

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A Muslim imam and a Hindu priest shake hands during the first-ever religious harmony conference in Dhaka, April 28, 2016. Source: Benarnews
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The heads of major religions in Bangladesh on Thursday told the country’s first conference on inter-faith harmony that they would carry on a dialogue to stop religious extremism and attacks on minorities by zealots.

Describing a spate of machete-killings “unacceptable,” speakers representing the majority Sunni Muslim and minority Shiite Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist communities said militants had to be eliminated from Bangladesh where a “marriage of all faiths” was a thousand-year tradition.

Convened by police and government officials, the conference in Dhaka sought to mobilize inter-faith support for secular writers, teachers, Christians, Hindus, Shiites and LGBT activists whose communities have been targeted in deadly attacks by suspected Islamic extremists over the past year.

In April, five people were killed in machete attacks carried out by suspected militants. The latest killings involved a double-homicide on Monday that claimed the lives of Xulhas Mannan, editor of the country’s first magazine devoted to coverage of LGBT issues, and dramatist K. Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy.

“This first-ever religious harmony conference passes a strong message to the extremists that the militants have no place in Bangladesh. We will hold such conferences at the division, district and the upazila levels to counter the threat of the militants,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told the conference at the Krishibid Institution auditorium.

Related: India, Bangladesh have set example of building relationship: PM Modi

He said Islam prohibited killings, lootings, destruction and torture.

“We will protect all citizens, irrespective of faiths,” said Khan, a top official in the government that has faced widespread criticism for failing to do enough to shield religious minorities, intellectuals, and secular activists from extremist attacks.

Radicalization blamed

Police Inspector-General A.K.M. Shahidul Haque, who presided over conference, told attendees that the perpetrators of 80 percent of the militant attacks had been arrested.

“And in most of the cases, the attackers confessed that they were brainwashed by the leaders. They are repentant now. We need your support to spread the peaceful message of Islam,” he said.

Speaker Maulana Farid Uddin Masud, an Islamic scholar, said those who radicalize followers should be blamed for the spate of machete attacks.

“An ordinary person is sure to kill anyone if I, as a religious leader, tell him that ‘you will go to heaven if you kill him.’ So, they are not the problem. The problem is those who radicalize them through misinterpretation of Islam,” Masud said.

He said that a campaign was under way to collect signatures of 100,000 Muslim scholars who denounce extremism, violence and attack on minorities.

“They are the greatest enemy of Islam. They have portrayed Islam as a religion of terror and barbarism. We have been nourishing religious harmony for thousands of years. It must be protected at any cost,” Masud said.

Different faiths, same beliefs

Satya Ranjan Baroi, president of International Society for Krishna Consciousness, told the audience that the Bangladeshi people should come forward to challenge violence against minorities.

For his part, Catholic Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario said the majority of Bangladeshis were peaceful and the recent attacks on minorities were like a “tiny black spot on a white sheet.”

“Everybody talks about the black spot without considering that the rest of sheet is white. And this is our problem. We have [had] strong religious harmony for thousands of years. We have to protect it,” D’Rozario said.

The archbishop recalled how he visited his home village 25 years ago and saw gates that had been erected within a two-mile stretch of the road leading to it.

“No Christian lived within those two miles,” D’Rozario said. “Who erected the gates for me? My Muslim brothers did it, my Hindu brothers did it.”

He added that more inter-faith dialogue at the grassroots would help maintain religious harmony.

Another speaker, Sanghanayaka Suddhananda Mahathero, echoed the archbishop’s call.

“We have to save the religious harmony we have been nurturing for thousands of years,” said Shudhananda, president of the Bangladesh Buddhist Kristi Prachar Federation.

“Let us talk among ourselves and then the distance will go,” he said, adding that all religions preached love, not hatred or violence.

Shiite leader Syed Ibrahim Khalil Razavi said the militants who carried out bomb attacks on a Shiite procession and Shiite mosque last year had tarnished the country’s image.

“Let us join our hands to resist such anti-Islamic activities. They must be punished so that others would not dare to do the same,” Razavi said. (Benarnews)

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First satellite launched by Bangladesh

It was successfully deployed at Bangladesh's specified orbit slot "within 36 minutes" of the launch and two ground stations in Bangladesh received test signals from it, said State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak at the Kennedy Space Centre in the US.

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In September 2016, Bangladesh signed a 14 billion taka ($180 million) loan agreement with Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) to finance the country's first-ever satellite.
Satellite, pixabay

Bangladesh launched its first satellite, “Bangabandhu-1”, on Saturday, becoming the 57th nation in the world and fourth in South Asia after India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to own a satellite.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted the communication satellite, named after the Bangladesh founder, early in the morning from Cape Canaveral in Florida, bdnews24 reported.

It was successfully deployed at Bangladesh’s specified orbit slot “within 36 minutes” of the launch and two ground stations in Bangladesh received test signals from it, said State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak at the Kennedy Space Centre in the US.

The launch was telecast live in Bangladesh, with experts saying it will serve as a milestone in the telecommunication sector.

“The satellite will be a great addition to our Information Technology heralding our entry into the Satellite Club of the world,” said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a message.

"The satellite will be a great addition to our Information Technology heralding our entry into the Satellite Club of the world," said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a message.
Bangladesh, pixabay

“The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 will certainly bring revolutionary changes in our broadcast and telecommunications sector. With this launching, we’ve hoisted the Bangladesh flag in the space… entered a new era.”

She thanked the satellite building and launching company, the US and the French governments for their support. Hasina also praised Russia for renting its orbital slot to Bangladesh.

Experts said that the country’s first geostationary communication satellite will give extra space to the digitization process. It will help expand Internet and telecommunication services in remote and rugged areas which still remained beyond the coverage.

Once the satellite becomes active at its orbital slot, it will be reportedly controlled from three stations in the US, Italy and South Korea for about a month. Finally, the satellite will be controlled and maintained from ground stations in Bangladesh.

In September 2016, Bangladesh signed a 14 billion taka ($180 million) loan agreement with Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) to finance the country’s first-ever satellite.

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In November 2015, Bangladesh signed a 19.51 billion taka ($248 million) deal with French firm Thales Alenia Space for the satellite project.

The Bangladeshi government also purchased a 119.1 east longitude orbital slot from Russia-based Intersputnik for 15 years for $28 million. (IANS)