Bangladesh: 22 Ahmadi Families in Danger

By Dr. Richard L. Benkin

New York, 24 June, (Asiantribune.com): According to Amnesty International (AI) in a press release issued Thursday, “the lives of 22 Ahmadi families living in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, are in grave danger” after members of International Khatme Nabuwat Movement Bangladesh (KNMB), an Islamist group, threatened them with death. In a message published in a prominent Dhaka daily, the group said, “once loss of lives occur in this sensitive issue there is a possibility for the ongoing Anti-Qadianee [Ahmadi] movement to turn into a Qadianee-eliminating movement.”

Significantly, the daily that agreed to publicize the KNMB threat is Daily Inquilab—the same paper that had been in the forefront of attacks on pro-peace journalist, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. It also provided an outlet for deliberate—and subsequently proven false—leaks about Choudhury’s case.

KNMB also announced that it would march on the Ahmadiyya mosque in an effort to disrupt this week’s Friday prayers there. It is not the first attack on the Ahmadis nor is it the first by KNMB. The Ahmadis are an Islamic sect claiming 200 million adherents. Many Muslims consider Ahmadis are heretics because they believe that Mohammed was not the final prophet and was succeeded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the 19th century. They also differ from mainstream Muslims by denying Haditha (or non-Quranic Muslim traditional texts), advocating a very limited use of jihad, and affirming that Jesus was crucified on the cross. The governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh—where the greatest numbers of Ahmadis live—have issued declarations questioning the group’s status as Muslims. Subsequently, Ahmadis have been subjected to regular attacks and persecution, including murders, without government action to stop them.

In 2004, KNMB—already identified in the press as “the anti-Ahmadiyya outfit”—declared war on the Ahmadis, saying, “Come, if you have the courage, defeat us in war…[5,000,000] jihadi Muslims will fight you until rooting you out of this land of [140,000,000] Muslims.” The group’s amir also threatened not to “spare anyone who supports the non-Muslim [Ahmadis].”

The pressures to ostracize Ahmadiyya further in Bangladesh have been linked with broader efforts to transform Bangladesh into a Taliban-like state that would enforce a narrow and fundamentalist version of Islam on all its people. In addition to Ahmadiyyas, Bangladesh has a large non-Muslim population, mostly Hindu, who would suffer legal privations under such an arrangement.

AI has raised concerns about ongoing persecution against Ahmadis and the government’s refusal to protect them. This included killing an Ahmadi preacher, the illegal house arrest of Ahmadi villagers, street agitations and unchecked anti-Ahmadi hate speech, and public rallies demanding Ahmadis to be declared as non-Muslims. A 2004 Bangladeshi government ban on Ahmadiyya publications is currently suspended by the High Court.

”How many more have to suffer before the government takes action?” An AI spokesman asked.

- Asian Tribune -