Bangladesh: Anti-Ahmadiyya agitation

The Daily Star - Dhaka
Religious fanaticism must be countered effectively.
Religious fanatics, who have long been fomenting anti-Ahmadiyya sentiments, have again threatened the government with 'dire consequences', should it fail to evict the Ahmadiyyas from their mosque at Nakhalpara by January 3.
The threats are the words coming from a group of fanatics who do not represent the majority Muslims. But the very fact that the ultimatum has been issued, and the fanatics are making a determined bid to execute their plan of occupying the mosque, speak volumes for the inadequate government response to the movement being launched against the members of a small sect. The minister for religious affairs had assured us that the government would protect the religious rights of all citizens.

The latest ultimatum, however, gives us a different picture the fanatics are ready to swoop on a small, vulnerable community, which has been identified as non-Muslims by the aggressors. Now the question is, who has given them the authority to decide who is a Muslim and who is not? The government, we believe, has a lot to do to make sure that the religious rights of citizens are not encroached upon by any individual or group. The pure law and order approach is the solution here since the fanatics are threatening to resort to violence. However, a peaceful settlement of the issue is what people would like to see. The government should talk to the agitators and convince them that their demand goes against the spirit of Islam, democracy and the basic principles that the country is committed to.

It is often said that our image abroad will be lowered if we allow activities that smack of religious extremism. Why can't the government realise that the international community will be greatly perturbed by what the fanatics are doing in the name of serving religion? If our international image has any place on its agenda, the government can ill afford to allow anybody to disrupt religious harmony.