Torching of Ahmadiyya mosque in
sets a bad example
The rise of religious extremism and the growth of sectarianism coupled with
incidences of violence in
is a telltale sign of intolerance and bigotry that are on the rise.
The latest episodes of torching and bombing of several Ahmadiyya mosques
in Brahmanbaria – an eastern district in
– speak in volume the pathetic state of sectarian feuds that are brewing in
this placid deltaic land for over a decade or so.
No too long ago, Bangalees in this
tiny land as big as Wisconsin (one of the 50 states in America) used to live
harmoniously not only with different sects of Muslims such as Ahmadiyya, Sufi,
etc., but also with non-Muslims belonging to other religions such as Hinduism,
Buddhism, and Christianity. When we
were growing up in the 1950s and 1960s we never heard the incidences of bombing
or torching of prayer houses belonging to minority sects of Muslims let alone
Christian church or Hindu mandir. What
then has gone wrong o abysmally in the last three decades?
This is not a rhetorical question; nor glib response to this question
could do a justice. In the meantime,
extremism is on the rise in this deltaic land.
Thanks to politicization of the religion Islam by some two despotic
regimes of yesteryears who did it purely for political purpose.
The nation had been treading the slippery slope of extremism since 1975
after the killing of founding father of this nation.
The despot who was behind the killing of Sheikh Mujib is long gone but
the culture of hate against minorities is growing a la cancer.
The civil society of
has never confronted this malady with courage and vigor.
And now, we are reading in various newspapers published from
that in the wee hours of night on June 24, 2005, not one but multiple Ahmadiyya
mosques became the victim of torching and bombing.
Ahmadiyya is a minority sect of
Muslim religion in South Asia, which was started in the middle of nineteenth
century by one Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in a village by the name Qadian located in
. The followers of the spiritual
leader Mirza Ghulam Ahmad are called Ahmadiyya or Qadiani.
Ahmad believed in the supremacy of Koran and considered Muhammad a
prophet. His teachings however
differed from Sunni and Shia sects in that he placed reasoning over blind
belief. Ahmad wrote that Jesus was
not lifted to the heaven but he died naturally as other mortals do on earth.
There are other minor differences too but by and large, the followers of
Ahmad are Muslims as Sufis are considered Muslims.
The fundamentalists do not consider
Ahmadiyyas as being Muslims and they waged a jihad against them in
. This infighting between
fundamentalists and Ahmadiyyas goes back to 1950s when Qadiani mosques were
. An extremist faction of Sunni sect
by the name Khatme Nabuwat (The End of Prophecy) that believes in the finality
of Muhammad (being the last prophet) abhors Qadianis because they (Qadianis)
consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad a prophet. The
members of Khatme Nabuwat had waged a unilateral jihad against Ahmadiyya sect in
. It took about a quarter century
for this jihad to come to the
Bay of Bengal
. We have noticed that members of
Khatme Nabuwat had been waging “war” against Ahmadiyyas in various parts of
Not too long ago an Ahmadiyya mosque
located in Nakhalpara (in
) became the epicenter of controversy as members of Khatme Nabuwat tried to
occupy the building by force. When
this was going on, we read newspaper reports where it was mentioned that Khatme
Nabuwat had the blessings of Jamat-i-Islami, the political party that is a
member of four-party alliance, which is in power since October 2001.
We also viewed digital images of
confrontations between Khatme Nabuwat goons and Ahmadiyyas as the latter tried
to protect their mosque from forcible occupation.
In one instance, the local police was helping the aggressors.
One has to simply wonder why did police want to help Khatme Nabuwat
activists when clearly the civil rights of minority sect members were violated
in public. The Bangladesh
Constitution allows every religion and sects to worship as they please.
Even then, the extremists who
newspapers call “bigots” are hell-bent on destroying Ahmadiyyas mosque.
They (extremists) want the government to declare Ahmadiyyas as
’s liberal newspapers have been
writing endlessly against the evil design of Khatme Nabuwat to squash the
religious rights of Ahmadiyyas. The
civil society is also sympathetic to the plights of this minority sect.
Not too long ago, I read that members of the civil society formed a human
chain near an Ahmadiyya mosque so that Khatme Nabuwat goons cannot forcibly take
the possession of the mosque.
It was heartening to read the
editorial written by New Age in the aftermath of Friday’s torching of the
Ahmadiyya mosque in Brahmanbaria. The
lead editorial in new Age on June 25 reads as follows: “Bigotry in
Brahmanbaria. The nation’s image,
before us and before the outside world, has taken a fresh new battering.
This time it has been in Brahmanbaria, where religious fanatics have
bombed two and torched one Ahmadiyya mosques in the town. Only last week, a
conference in London, one that was not taken kindly to by the government, made a
pointed reference to the persecution the community in question has been going
through in this country. One would
have thought the authorities, in the face of all the criticism it has been
coming in for over its silent stance on the Ahmadiyya issue, would have moved to
douse the flames. That they have not
is a matter of intense regret. What
has happened in Brahmanbaria is definitive proof of how the fanatics in our
midst, the elements grouped under the so-called Khatme Nabuwat, remain
determined to push the country into a state of sectarian chaos.
It is something that sends endless streams of fear down the nation’s
The spate of recent attacks on
Ahmadiyya mosques also brought condemnation from West.
Another leading newspaper from Dhaka wrote, “US Under Secretary of
State for Political Affairs Nicholas R Burns yesterday (June 25, 2005) expressed
concern over growing incidents of persecution of Ahmadiyyas including Friday's
(June 24, 2005) attacks on an Ahmadiyya neighborhood in Brahmanbaria.”
Another English news daily, The Independent, wrote in their editorial on June
26, 2005 as follows: “The sustained attack on the Ahmadiya community is a
gross violation of democratic principles and values and threatens to knock the
bottom out of our standing as a democratic polity wedded to freedom and
equality. The attack has been continuing with increasing virulence. This has
seriously bruised the country's reputation in the comity of nations and is also
sowing the seeds of internal disunity and unrest.
The donors and friends of the country abroad are watching with
consternation and dismay the way the minority community has virtually been
placed under siege.”
Clearly, the newspaper editorials
are reflecting the concerns of intelligentsias who think the image of the nation
to outside world is marred. The
government of Khaleda Zia is least perturbed however by the ominous development
of rise in sectarian violence in
. The extremists are after Ahmadiyya
sect today. Maybe, tomorrow they
will be torching churches and mandirs. Who
knows? The extremists want to
convert this nation of 145 million impoverished people into a fundamentalist
nation a la Talibanism.
In summary, the specter of
sectarianism is on the rise in
. The torching and bomb blasting of
Ahmadiyya mosques in Brahmanbaria speak in volume what has been happening in
, which used to be a tolerant society not too long ago.
The reticence of Khaleda Zia government in this regard does not bode well
for the nation. The outside world
may erroneously think that
wants to tread the path of Talibanism and become an archconservative Muslim
nation. Therefore, the government
should immediately declare Khatme Nabuwat – the troublemaker - a terrorist
organization. The government has
already declared Jagrata Muslim Janata of Bangladesh (JMJB) a banned
organization because it went after communists and minorities in
. What is so different about Khatme
Nabuwat? As because Khatme Nabuwat
is cozy with Jamaat, that hardly gives any reason to be lenient with this
extremist group. The sooner the
group is declared banned, the better it would be for
. This cancer of hatred should be
surgically removed as soon as possible. The
government is fully capable of doing this and it should consider doing this a
tall order of the day.
A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from