10/01/2014, 00.00
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Dhaka: Telecommunications minister removed for attacking Muhammad and Hajj

by Sumon Corraya
At a meeting with the press in New York, Abdul Latif Siddique criticised the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, one of the pillars of Islam. Muhammad created it because Arab people were robbers. Then "he introduced a system stating that his followers will assemble once a year. Through this system," some "income would be generated". For the minister, "It is sheer waste of manpower." Now he could be arrested after a complaint was filed against him.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - The Bangladeshi government has decided to remove Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Abdul Latif Siddique from his post after he gave an interview in which he criticised Hajj (the pilgrimage by devout Muslims to Makkah), some Bangladeshi public figures and even some of the Muhammad's decisions.

The now former minister could be arrested after a case was filed against him by the former chairman of the Dhaka Metropolitan Bar Association Abed Raza.

Speaking at a meeting held on 28 September in New York, the minister responded to a question about the Jamaat-e-Islami, a radical Muslim group.

"I am opposed to their work. But what I really hate are Hajj and the Tabligh Jamaat. This group brings together tens of thousands of people each year and do nothing but cause a traffic jam".

Tablighi Jamaat is linked to the Deobandi movement.

The main attack is against the pilgrimage to Makkah, one of the five pillars of Islam.

"I am dead against hajj and Tabligh Jamaat. I am more against the hajj and Tabligh Jamaat than Jamaat-e-Islami. It is sheer waste of manpower."

"Some 20 lakh (two million) people have gone to Saudi Arabia. They have no work to do. It is deduction [of money] rather than production. They are spending and consuming. They are taking the country's money to Saudi Arabia." For the minister, if pilgrims spent their money at home, they would be doing something good.

For Siddique, the "fault" of all this lies with "Abdullah's son Muhammad [who] thought how people of Arabia would survive. They were robbers. Then he introduced a system stating that his followers will assemble once a year. Through this system," some "income would be generated."

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