Stringent actions against bigotry called for
THE Ahmadiyya community, a minority sect in the country, has long been subject to persecution just for their faith by a section of Islamist bigots which has been, needless to say, on the rise, particularly, in recent decades, largely thanks to inaction on the part of successive governments. Apart from vandalising their houses and mosques, the bigots have unleashed brutal physical attacks on the members of this community on several occasions in different parts of the country — including the capital Dhaka — during the period. It appears, however, that the bigots are hell-bent on allowing no respite for the members of the beleaguered community even after they are laid to rest. According to a report published in New Age on Saturday, a number of religious bigots under the banner of Khatme Nabuwat Movement tried to dig out the body of an Ahmadiyya man after he was buried in the graveyard of the Roads and Highways Department at East Nakhalpara in the capital Friday afternoon until the local ward councillor was able to persuade them to refrain from doing such an heinous act. It may be pertinent to note that the bigots who have been out to have the government declare the Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims for some years were earlier successful in their effort to put obstruction to the community members when they sought to bury the dead at his ancestral Rahim Metal’s graveyard.
That Bangladesh is a liberal society where various sorts of communities — ethnic, religious and otherwise — have been living in harmony over centuries is a matter of fact. Also, the constitution of the country ensures religious freedom for all citizens regardless of the communities and sects they belong to. In this context, it is beyond debate that the Ahmadiyya people have every right to practice their faith. On the other hand, as the manager of the state, the government is obligated to protect all these rights. Encouragingly, while visiting the spot, the officer-in-charge of the local police station has reportedly vowed to take legal measures against any further attempt to dig out the body of the Ahmadiyya man.
Hopefully, the force will also remain vigilant in protecting the community’s other rights enshrined in the constitution in the days to come. At the same time, meanwhile, the conscious sections of society also need to realise that only legal steps may not be effective enough to rein in the bigotry as it generally cashes in on the cultural backwardness of the majority people. Thus, alongside putting pressure on the government to take stringent actions against the bigots, they need to build up a cultural resistance against their obscurantist and irrational ideas in a consistent manner.
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