Bangladesh: Continued attacks on the Ahmadiyya community

During 2003-2005 we circulated calls for action regarding attacks on the community, and subsequent updates urging action. WLUML again urges you to write to the Bangladesh Government regarding their duty to protect minority communities.
June 22, 2006
The Daily Star, Editorial


It is a matter of great worry that the Khatme Nabuwat Andolon (KNA), a fiercely anti-Ahmadiyya outfit, is again planning to attack a mosque of the beleaguered community in Uttara next Friday.

Twenty-two Ahmadiyya families are now apparently at the mercy of the organisation which wants them to be declared non-Muslims. It is an exact repetition of incidents in which the Ahmaddiyyas were targeted in the past. The KNA activists usually select an Ahmadiyya mosque, launch a massive hate campaign, and then try to evict the Ahmadiyyas from their own mosque.

Now, this is a kind of outburst of religious fanaticism which could only create a sense of great insecurity not only among the Ahmadiyyas, but also among all small sects or religious communities.

The right to pursue any religious faith equally and freely is guaranteed to every citizen both by our constitution and religion -- a point that we have raised several times in the past while commenting on such issues. There is absolutely no room for such persecution of a small group of people in the name of serving Islam. Islam does not need the service of the people who don't know that it is a religion which treats oppression of any type as an unpardonable offence.

The KNA modus operandi deserves a closer look. They try to revive the issue of Ahmadiyya bashing whenever it looks like losing its tempo. And they have been putting pressure on the government to declare the Ahamadiyyas non-Muslims. They seem to be quite well organised.

The government should not evade the issue as the KNA activists are adopting a more and more threatening posture. The violation of law is so blatant in this case that one doesn't need to be a legal expert to understand that the rights of a small group of people are being encroached upon by zealots having no authority to decide who is a Muslim and who is not. These self-styled custodians of Islam must be reined in before they start intimidating the followers of other faiths as well.
Wrath against a defenceless community

The Ahmadiyyas have come under attack again. This time in a more virulent form. It began with dousing petrol on an Ahmadiyya mosque and torching it in the small hours of Thursday night at Kandipara in Brahmanbaria town. The community people themselves put out the blaze before the police and the firefighters arrived on the scene.

Almost simultaneously, at least two dozen homemade bombs were burst at Bhadughar within Brahmanbaria municipal limits and Shuhilpur under Sadar upazila. Khatm-e-Nabuat may have denied having had anything to do with it, but there is no question about the orchestrated attack in Brahmanbaria being the outcome of sustained, open incitement to religious frenzy against a particular community.

If the series of assaults on them, especially on their mosques, had not taken place in various parts of the country earlier on, there is no gainsaying the fact that the Brahmanbaria cocktail blasts and arson would most possibly have been averted.

There was the usual run of post-incident medical treatment for the victims, police placement and law and order alert of all kinds, but the question that exercises the mind a lot is this: why was there a local intelligence failure to foresee what was coming and to preempt it? Generally the administration must be seized of the need to provide security cover to Ahmadiyya-inhabited areas in order that no untoward incident can take place in them. The police couldn't arrest anyone in that small area, which is bound to surprise people.

Let us not forget that lately Bangladesh has come under international spotlight not for all the right reasons. One of the points of criticism related to religious intolerance of a handful against the Ahmadiyyas which is out of steps with our age-old traditions of religious harmony and peaceful co-existence of different faiths. We must not allow anybody to spoil our natural image.

o o o

The Daily Star, June 26, 2005
Shamim Ashraf

Zealots carrying out countrywide violent campaigns against Ahmadiyyas once again disregarded the concern of world rights community by attacking the sect members with bombs and setting fire to their mosque in Brahmanbaria on Friday.

The attack created panic among the 20,000 Ahmadiyyas in the district where the minority sect preached their beliefs first in Bangladesh.

One suspect was arrested yesterday at the district town after a Special Branch (SB) team visited the spot where two dozen bombs were exploded by the zealots. A team of army explosives experts is likely to visit the spot today.

District Amir of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Monzur Hossain filed two separate cases with Sadar Police Station in connection with Friday's attack.

The attack came six days after a European Human Rights Conference on extremism, intolerance and violence asked Bangladesh government to ensure safety to Ahmadiyyas and restore their mosques now in capture of anti-Ahmadiyya operatives.

The conference also asked for lifting the government ban on Ahmadiyya publications but it could not stop the zealots from boosting the anti-Ahmadiyya campaign.

The Amnesty International, UN Human Rights Commission, US State Department, European Union, US-based Human Rights Watch and rights activists at home and abroad earlier repeatedly asked the zealots to stop persecution on the Ahmadiyyas.

In spite of the right bodies' concern, as many as 20 incidents of attack on the Ahmadiyyas took place across the country in the last 18 months.

The persecution on the Ahmadiyyas never stopped since the anti-Ahmadiyya campaign got a boost in 1987 when Khatme Nabuwat Movement was founded in Brahmanbaria to lead the anti-Ahmadiyya campaign.

The district has become the most dangerous place for the Ahmadiyyas where the zealots captured six mosques including the main Ahmadiyya mosque, Masjidul Mobarak, in April 1987 to oust them from the area.

Syed Abdul Wahed, a pir (religious leader) who was the head moulana of Annada High School in Brahmanbaria, preached Ahmediat (belief of Ahmadiyyas) in 1912.

Opposition was there against the Ahmadiyyas although they follow the same rituals as Sunnis who constitute 90 percent of Bangladeshi Muslims, apart from their belief about the emergence of Imam Mehdi, the last messenger of Prophet Muhammad.

The anti-Ahmadiyya people in a total distortion of fact propagate that the Ahmadiyyas do not believe Mohammad as the last prophet.

Organising anti-Ahmadiyya forces under the banner of Khatme Nabuwat Movement in Brahmanbaria in 1987, local religious leader Moulana Sirajul Islam demanded that the Ahmadiyyas should be declared as non-Muslim.

They captured six Ahmadiyya mosques including their main mosque, Masjidul Mobarak. Although the Ahmadiyyas got back two mosques, four including Masjidul Mobarak are still under siege by the anti-Ahmadiyya elements.

The zealots renamed the main mosque as 'Masjidul Fathah' and established 'Khatme Nabuwat Tajul Ulum Madrasa' in the mosque. Moulana Idris, personal assistant to Islamic Oikya Jote Chairman Fazlul Haq Amini, is the principal of the madrasa.

In the continuing persecution on the Ahmadiyyas, the zealots boycotted and outcast the sect members in different parts of the country. Some people bombed the Ahmadiyya headquarters at Bakshibazar in Dhaka on October 29, 1992.

The cruellest attack was the explosion of a time bomb in a mosque at Nirala residential area in Khulna on October 8, 1999 during Juma prayers, which left seven Ahmadiyyas killed and 27 others injured.

The fanatics confined 17 Ahmadiyya families of Uttar Bhabanipur village in Kushtia for over a month in October, 2003.

The zealots killed Ahmadiyya imam Shah Alam in Roghunathpurbak village in Jhikargachha upazila of Jessore on October 29, 2003. Ahmadiyyas alleged that local Jamaat leader Aminul Islam had led the gang.

Trampling down Ahmadiyyas' fundamental rights, the government on January 8, 2004, banned their publications for what it said was "objectionable materials which hurt or might hurt the sentiments of the majority Muslim population of Bangladesh".

Khatme Nabuwat groups pulled down the signboards of Ahmadiyyas mosques at Puranbazar in Patuakhali on May 12 last year, at Chawkbazar in Chittagong 16 days later and at Nirala in Khulna on August 11 last year.

They hung new signboards there that branded the mosques as merely "place of worship" and asked people not to mistake those for mosques.

The agitators also changed the signboard of Ahmadiyya mosque in Bogra on March 11 and of another mosque in Shyamnagar, Satkhira on April 17 this year.

The zealots attacked the Ahmadiyyas of Dharmapur, Dalpara and Kazipara villages in Badarganj upazila in Rangpur and looted their houses on April 29 this year.

A series of attacks on the Ahmadiyyas and looting of their houses left 17 Ahmadiyyas injured, including four women, in Shyamnagar.

Unknown people set fire to an Ahmadiyya mosque in Maharajpur village in Gurudaspur upazila of Natore on June 21.

And the latest attack came on Friday when the zealots set fire to an Ahmadiyya mosque of Kandipara in Brahmanbaria and blasted over two dozen bombs including some time bombs leaving two Ahmadiyyas injured. They also hurled bombs in Bhadughar in the municipal area and Suhilpur in Sadar upazila simultaneously.

The bombs went off one after another, sending a chill of panic among the Ahmadiyyas who accused local Khatme Nabuwat operatives for the attacks.

Leaders of left-leaning 11-party alliance visited the trouble-torn area yesterday and submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police demanding arrest and trial of the attackers.

The 11-party leaders will observe a token sit-in in front of the DC office today.

Police yesterday nabbed Sumon alias Chanchal, 22, from Mowrail area of the town suspecting him as a bomb-maker. They started interrogating him.