Onlookers gather following a suicide bomb blast at an Ahmadiyya mosque in Rajshahi, Bangladesh, Dec. 25, 2015.
Onlookers gather following a suicide bomb blast at an Ahmadiyya mosque in Rajshahi, Bangladesh, Dec. 25, 2015.

 

The Ahmadiyyas are the most persecuted minority Muslim community in Bangladesh as they have long been facing discrimination, intimidation and torture from the Sunni and other sections of radical Muslims.

The majority Sunni communities refuse to recognise Ahmadiyyas as Muslims and instead term them anti-Islam, even though they are welcomed in many Muslim countries.

Recently, the supporters of Islamic State in Bangladesh launched a suicide bomb attack on an Ahmadiyya mosque at Baghmara of Rajshahi injuring at least 10 devotees. The attacker was identified as Md Tarique Ajij alias Musa alias Tareq.

His accomplice Jamal Uddin of Chapainawabganj’s Shibganj Upazila was killed in a shootout with the police in Godagari of Rajshahi on June 7, 2016. He had helped Tareq carry the bomb inside the mosque.

Radical Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (Ahab) runs a mosque around 15 feet from the Ahmadiyya’s teen-shed one.

The Ahmadiyya community people came under attack several times in the past, due to preaching by radical Islamist leaders, especially Mufti Amini, against them.

WikiLeaks information Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks mentions about one incident from 2006 when extremist group Khatme Nabuwat Andolan Bangladesh (KNAB) movement wanted to take over an Ahmadiyya mosque at Uttara in June. The quick police reaction diffused a potentially violent situation with minimal violence.

The incident was mentioned in a cable sent by then US ambassador Patricia Butenis on June 29, 2006.

The cable has been posted here verbatim:

KNAB leader Noor Hossain Nurani announced plans to take over the Ashkona Ahmadiyya Mosque in the Uttara neighbourhood in Dhaka to draw attention to his group’s demand that the parliament declare the Ahmadiyyas “non-Muslim” by June 29.

According to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat (AMJ), the principle Ahmadiyya organization in Bangladesh, Nurani began assembling supporters at five mosques and madrasas around Uttara on June 21 with the intention of seizing Ashkona on June 23.

Alarmed Ahmadiyya community leaders asked the Prime Minister’s office to provide police protection and prevent the seizure of the mosque complex. Twenty-two Ahmadiyya families living in Uttara also appealed to the BDG for protection, and the AMJ launched a widespread information campaign designed to rally support. Several civil society and non-governmental organizations expressed support for the Ahmadiyyas and announced they would assist in protecting the mosque. According to Ahmadiyya and police sources, on the morning of June 23 approximately 1,500 to 2,000 KNAB marchers, many wielding long bamboo sticks, gathered for a rally in Uttara where Nurani reiterated the group’s main demands. He then led a march towards the Ashkona mosque. The police deployed over 3,000 police in the Uttara area to prevent violence and cordon off the Ahmadiyya complex. After coming up against police barricades, Nurani and his followers marched into the middle of the main access road to Dhaka-Zia International Airport to hold afternoon prayers. When they tried to block traffic, damaging two vehicles, the police dispersed them using batons. Some ten to 20 people were injured in the melee.

Following the KNAB’s failure to take the mosque Nurani announced a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Uttara for June 25 and 26 and added the demand that the Bangladeshi parliament pass a law declaring Mohammad the “last prophet.” Journalists informed us that although traffic to the airport was light on the morning of June 25, the hartal never materialized. Police broke up the main KNAB pro-hartal procession as it tried to march through Uttara, injuring Nurani in the process. There were no signs of hartals or protesters on June 26. From his hospital bed Nurani vowed to continue his movement, declaring a “siege” of Zia International Airport on the morning of June 29. The police told us ahead of time that there was “no way” they would permit the group to shut down the airport or access road. No protesters showed up for the airport siege, and Nurani later cancelled it. He announced a new siege of Ahmadiyya facilities in the Noddapara neighborhood of Dhaka for July 4.

In summing up the events of the week, Ahmad Tabshir, the main AMJ spokesperson, told us that although the Ahmadiyya community was initially alarmed by this latest offensive against them they were “very happy” with the actions of the government. “If the government continues to take such actions, the zealots will be discouraged from further actions against us,” Tabshir told us. Regarding the police, Tabshir commended them for keeping the protesters away from Ahmadiyya installations.

COMMENT: The failure of the KNAB protests demonstrates a lack of popular support for these types of anti-Ahmadiyya actions. The major political parties do not take the demands of the KNAB seriously, and there is no significant support for anti-Ahmadiyya legislation in parliament. Given the poor turnout and strong police deterrent role at this week’s KNAB-organized program, it is highly unlikely that the protest on July 4 will be any more successful. Furthermore, the Home Ministry and police deserve credit for protecting the Ahmadiyya facilities and dispersing the protesters.

Tea with Islamist firebrands:

Another US embassy cable sent by then charge d affairs in Dhaka Judith Chammas describes a meeting over tea of the embassy officials with some top Islamists of the country on August 2, 2005.

Those invited to the embassy were Maulana Ubaidal Haq, Khateeb of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque; Shaikul Hadis Allama Azizul Huq, Chairman of Islami Oikko Jote; Maulana Fazlul Karim, Pir Saheb Charmonai and Amir of Islamic Constitution Movement; Maulana Muhiuddin Khan, Senior Vice-Chairman of Islami Oikko Jote; and AMM Bahauddin, editor of Daily Inquilab and Senior Vice-President of Jamiatul Musarresin madrasa teachers.

Key points of the discussion:

Azizul Haq asked why the USG is so unhappy with them over Ahmadiyyas.

Ubaidal Haq regretted that USG visitors had gone to see the Ahmadiyyas without meeting with the Islamists. “We support religious freedom, but we don’t want them to mislead real Muslims. They are separate, and many countries have declared them non-Muslims to stop this kind of problem.”

Asked if this means Islamists would not protect Ahamdiyyas unless they were declared non-Muslims, Ubaidal Haq told CDA, “To be protected, they must be identifiable as a minority.”

Religious freedom and protection of minorities are important, constitutionally-guaranteed rights in Bangladesh, CDA observed. Ubaidal Haq agreed, saying this is why Ahmadiyyas should be declared non-Muslims – to become a minority that would be protected by both government and civil society, including Islamists.

He downplayed reported attacks on Ahmadiyyas as false or exaggerated; some incidents, he claimed, are staged and videos are faked to advance internal Ahmadiyya rivalries.

Amini, Jamaat have similar view on Ahmadiyyas At another meeting with Judith Chammas on December 15, 2004, Islami Oikko Jote Chairman Mufti Fazlul Huq Amini said Ahmadiyya are “non-Muslims” as they attempt to deceive the “real” Muslims.

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Mufti Fazlul Haq Amini

He mentioned that Jamaat had identical views on Ahmadiyyas

In the cable, Chammas mentioned that Amini launched the anti-Ahmadiyya campaign at the end of 2003, and before that the campaign against noted Bangladeshi feminist author Taslima Nasreen.

It should be mentioned that Mufti Amini, who died in December 2012, was a close associate of Hefazat-e-Islam ameer Ahmad Shah Shafi. The Lalbagh madrasa, founded by Allama Azizul Huq, is used as the Dhaka unit office of Hefazat-e-Islam.

Allama Azizul and several other top leaders of Islami Oikko Jote were behind the formation of militant group Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-B). It was banned in 2005 for carrying out attacks since 1999 killing dozens of people.

 

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