UPDATE: Bangladesh: The situation of the Ahmadiyya (Qadiani) community is deteriorating rapidly

WLUML again urges you to respond with increased pressure on the Bangladesh Government regarding their duty to protect minority communities.
In December 2003 we circulated an alert for action regarding attacks on the community but unfortunately the level of persecution - both by the government and by non-state groups - is on the rise.
For more information, please read the original alert issued in December 2003.

The Daily Star
April 19, 2005

Last month, the administration sat idle while anti-Ahmadiyya bigots wielding weapons and threatening violence besieged the Ahmadiyya community in Bogra and intimidated the local police into hanging a sign on the wall of the community mosque, "warning" Muslims not to mistake it for a "real" Muslim mosque.

Emboldened by the fact that the government did not lift a finger to either protect the religious rights of the Ahmadiyyas or to punish those guilty of violence and intimidation, the bigots stepped up their campaign of hatred at Satkhira on Sunday.

As estimated 15,000 activists, armed with sticks and machetes, besieged the Ahmadiyya mosque in Satkhira, and threatened violence if the badly outnumbered and ill-prepared police did not acquiesce to the hanging of the offensive sign on the wall of the mosque. When the Ahmadiyyas attempted to resist, the mob hurled stones at them, injuring fifty people, including women and children.

Once the sign had been hung, the mob then proceeded to ransack the surrounding area, looting the houses of some local Ahmadiyyas. To add insult to injury, the injured also allegedly did not receive timely medical help from physicians at a local hospital.

The administration knew full well that this attack against the Ahmadiyyas was coming, as the bigots had announced their intentions well in advance, yet, once again, it did nothing to prevent this outrage.

This has gone far enough. It is not merely a question of the Ahmadiyyas' constitutional rights, which the government manifestly has little concern for. It is also a question of simple law and order. The government cannot permit baying mobs to threaten, intimidate, assault, and ransack with impunity. These are criminal offences, perpetrated in broad daylight in front of thousands of witnesses.

The International Khatme Nabuwat Movement Bangladesh, which organised the attack and has been at the forefront of the movement against the Ahmadiyyas, has been permitted to continue its unlawful operations without hindrance. The close ties between the movement and elements within the four-party ruling alliance are no secret.

So long as the government chooses to abdicate its responsibility in stemming this despicable and criminal conduct by religious extremists, it is no wonder that the image of the country around the world would be seen sliding. The administration's inaction demonstrates quite clearly that it has neither the will nor the inclination to keep the extremists in check.

New Age
April 19 2005

The attack on the Ahmadiyya community by a band of religious fanatics in Satkhira on Sunday demonstrates anew the national concern over the activities of the so-called Khatme Nabuwat movement. In the name of a defence of the Islamic faith, these bigots have for a long time been engaging themselves in activities that are a clear attempt to create chaos in the country. The irony in the whole situation is that when the country is trying to emerge from its existing social and political crises, the fanatics have somehow found the wherewithal to create a new problem that need not have been there.

With the new attack, this time in a violent manner, on the members of the Ahmadiyya community, it becomes obvious that some very powerful forces are behind the bigots as they go from one atrocious act to another. It is in the fitness of things therefore that the authorities now go seriously and purposefully into the business of identifying the elements who may be patronising, morally, financially and in other ways, the Khatme Nabuwat in its campaign of creating disorder in the name of ensuring religious purity.

It goes without saying that Bangladesh has by and large been a land of communal harmony. We will not pretend, however, that everything has been perfect in this country either before or after liberation in terms of a practice of the various faiths. But it is true that all governments and the entire Bengali nation have resolutely come down on any attempt by fringe elements to create the conditions which could upset the fabric of peaceful religious activity in the country. Of late, though, such bodies as the Khatme Nabuwat have demonstrated a hitherto unimaginable degree of audacity in their determination to have the Ahmadiyyas declared non-Muslim. For their part, the Ahmadiyyas do not appear to have said, done or propagated anything that could even remotely be construed as an incitement to trouble.

The bigger problem in all this Ahmadiyya-related trouble is that some important people, including the khatib of Baitul Mukarram, have contributed their bit. Worse is the fact that the authorities have done precious little to take all these troublemakers to task even when it has been made clear that there is a patent threat to law and order here. All that the authorities have done every time Ahmadiyyas have come under siege anywhere in Bangladesh is to deploy police around their homes and places of worship for such time as their enemies bayed for their blood before going home. In Bogra, the police went quite a bit of the way to placate the bigots when they had the Ahmadiyya sign on a mosque replaced by one prepared by the bigots themselves. That was as outrageous as it was humiliating for the already beleaguered Ahmadiyyas.

And now in Satkhira, matters have moved one more dark step forward. News reports speak of the homes of Ahmadiyyas coming under attack by the fanatics. As many as fifty women and children have been injured in the attack and their valuables have been looted by the marauders. The police were either powerless to prevent the violence or were clearly unwilling to come to the aid of those attacked.

The authorities should be reading the writing on the wall. And for the country's civil society, the imperative is to build up a movement that will not only thwart the nefarious activities of any organised band of chaos makers but also ensure that this is a land where the freedom of faith applies equally to each and every citizen. Anyone who is uncomfortable with that inviolable truth must be dealt with by the law of the land.