Institute Condemns Ongoing Discrimination of Ahmadiyya Muslims in Bangladesh. PCP. Report

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Washington, D.C. - In a letter to Bangladesh Ambassador Syed Hasan Ahmad dated January 9, 2004, Institute on Religion and Public Policy President Joseph K. Grieboski called on the government of Bangladesh to "end the ongoing discrimination and violence against Ahmadi Muslims in Bangladesh."

In a major violation of Bangladesh's secular traditions, the government Thursday banned all publications of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh, which represents the country's 150,000 strong Muslim minority, bowing to pressure from Islamic extremists.

In addition, the government decided to withdraw cases against 12,000 anti-Ahmadiyya activists charged with assaulting policemen while attacking an Ahmadiyya mosque in Dhaka on December 5.

Significantly, the ban by Bangladesh's Home Ministry was imposed a day before the end of an ultimatum to ex-communicate the denomination by religious bigots. It appears to be the first step in this direction, although the government has not yet taken any decision on the issue.

Just last month, the State Minister for Religious Affairs said only God had the right to declare anyone a non-Muslim. On December 8, he had remarked, "Now they (anti-Ahmadiyya group) are demanding it once the demand is met, they will want to capture a mosque, then a church."

Mr. Grieboski wrote, "The government cannot sit idle as rabble-rousers threaten violence and destruction if they are not appeased. No group can be permitted to terrorize a community and intimidate the government with impunity. The Ahmaddiyya community cannot be further marginalized and denied their constitutional and human rights to practice their religion freely without interference... The government must respond in the strongest possible ways to this kind of religious extremism... There can be no question of declaring any group non-Muslim. This is not a question for the government in the first place."

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