A life of constant fear for the Ahmadiyyas in Bangladesh

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A life of constant fear for the Ahmadiyyas in Bangladesh

A life of constant fear for the Ahmadiyyas in Bangladesh
Photo:Syed Zakir Hossain

This is not education. This is an intentional act to spread lies and misinformation to affect people’s perception of us. These are propaganda to stir up hostile feelings and direct aggression towards us

“There are people who do not consider Muhammad (Pbuh) the last prophet. The Quadiani community is among them. They believe more prophets will appear after Muhammad (Pbuh). Their belief is in firm contradiction of the Qu’ran and Sunnah.”

The passage is an excerpt from a creative questionnaire which was part of an Islamic Studies exam at Brahmanbaria’s Niaz Muhammad High School in 2016.

On May 8, 2017, three madrasa students attempted to murder Mustafizur Rahman, imam of an Ahmadiyya mosque. He was set upon by the three with sharp weapons after the evening prayers. Mustafizur survived with grievous injuries. Local villagers helped law enforcement agencies capture the attackers quickly.  After they were arrested, the attackers claimed they wanted to kill Mustafizur because he was spreading “the wrong kind” of Islam.

The attack on Ahmadiyyas has its root in how institutions mould the minds of young people, affecting their perception. But how much of this education affects the formation of such homicidal indoctrination remains to be assessed.

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The Ahmadiyya mosque in Kandipara, Brahmanbaria, remains occupied by locals since 1987 Tarek Mahmud

Hate-ducation

Durjoy, a sixth grader student, said his Religious Studies teacher insults him during class every day, calling him a Kafir (non-believers in Islam). Joy, a student of Brahmanbaria Polytechnic Institute admitted to having been subject to similar insults.

A qawmi organisation acts as the hub of anti-Ahmadiyya sentiments in Kandipara. Al Jamia Tul Islamia Tajul Ulum Tahfiz Khatme Nabiyeen is located near the Ahmadiyya quarters in Kandipara. Their sermons often put the Ahmadiyyas ill at ease because of the hostile content. The Ahmadi residents are wary of things escalating and taking a lethal turn any day.

In Kishoreganj, imams coming from out of town stir up hostilities against Ahmadiyyas.

Syed Anwar Ali, leader of Terogati Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Kishoreganj, said many imams give false fatwas (decrees based on interpretation of Islamic law) to incite mistrust an hatred. He said friends have turned enemies over religion, because of the fatwas.

Sheikh Sunny from Brahmanbaria Government College said: “Our house is often attacked by bearded men clad in traditional Islamic garb. Our house has lost power connections numerous times because of them..”

Sunny alleged: “There are many who respond aggressively when we perform well in our studies or at our workplace.”

While members of the Ahmadiyya community are attacked countrywide, exams and lectures at schools or madrasas depict the Ahmadiyyas as an anti-Islamic group.

Brahmanbaria’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Ameer Manjur Hossain said: “This is not education. This is an intentional act to spread lies and misinformation to affect people’s perception of us. These are propaganda to stir up hostile feelings and direct aggression towards us.”

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The Ahmadis have had to install CCTV cameras on their mosque to ward off missiles hurled from the adjacent occupied mosque Tarek Mahmud

No prayers of salvation

Ahmadi people live in a constant state of fear in Bangladesh. Having a history of repression has made them skeptical of any change in their fate. The Ahmadiyya mosque in Kandipara, Brahmanbaria has been illegally occupied by locals since 1987. The occupants claim giving false Fotoa (regulation) of Islam against delivering Azan by loudspeaker. The 150 Ahmadi families living in Kandipara are cloistered in a small fenced area. They are forced to prayers at a small mosque attached to their congested living space.

“When we start praying, they hurl bricks at our mosques from the mosque they now occupy,” said Md Abdul Awal, a retired high school headmaster.

Awal had moved from Shalgaon, Brahmanbaria as a child when his house was torched by vandals. Kandipara resident Salauddin Ahmad told the Dhaka Tribune: “We had two more mosques in Khatua and Bhadugar. Both have been captured and occupied.”

“They called us ‘Kafir’ and said our mosques cannot be called such. But they perform their prayers five times a day.”

Nowadays, they have to pray while a number of them stand guard to prevent any attacks or acts of violence.

No home, no security, no rights as human

In Mymensingh, several thousand Ahmadis had been living in relative peace after the BNP and caretaker government regimes ended. But the recent attack on Imam Mustafizur Rahman has reminded them that they are considered as targets, not humans. The Ahmadis face daily obstruction in burying their dead, buying and selling goods at the local market, and any social activity.

Ayub Ali, a farmer living in the remote village of Sohagi – where the imam was attacked – told the Dhaka Tribune: “We lead quite a peaceful life. But the attack on our imam has been hell on our peace of mind.”

The Ahmadis of Kishoreganj, Brahmanbaria and Mymensingh said local MPs acted neutrally during the Awami League government.

“We receive help from the government and the law enforcement agencies. But they only respond after we have been attacked. We are bound to be scared, we have no sense of social security,” said Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh’s Nayeb-E-Ameer Ahmad Tabshir Choudhury.

Published in the Dhaka Tribune
2017-06-13T09:52:11+00:00