Muslim leaders celebrate Eid and invite people to listen to the Pope
by Kalpit Parajuli
For the Nepalese Islamic leaders the Pope’s call to solidarity and nonviolence pronounced in Assisi is the way forward. In Nepal there is an urgent need for dialogue between different faiths in order to prevent the spread of extremism.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - On the occasion of the feast of Bakr-Eid, the Muslim community in Nepal emphasizes the need to listen to the message of solidarity and dialogue announced by Pope Benedict XVI in Assisi. Unlike other countries, Muslims in Nepal are struggling for years alongside Christians and other minorities to create harmony between different religions against violence and extremism.
For about three years, the celebrations for the Eid-Bakr, the Muslim festival dedicated to sacrifice and prayers for the poor, has been considered a national holiday, as is the Christian Christmas, thanks to the proclamation of a secular state in 2006, after centuries of Hindu monarchy. However, in recent years, the Christian and Muslim communities in Nepal have often been the target of Hindu sectarian extremism, linked to the ancient absolute monarchy. In April 2009 a bomb exploded in the Catholic cathedral of Kathmandu, killing three people. On 26 September, two men shot Faizan Ahmad, general secretary of the Islamic Party of Nepal, as he left the mosque. To date the authorities have not yet identified the killers, but the Muslim community says that Hindu extremists are behind the killing.
Nazrul Hussein, head of the Islamic Sangjh of Nepal, said that all religions must fight against the spread of fundamentalism. For the leader, the Pope’s indications expressed on the day of prayer in Assisi is the correct way to go. "We are celebrating Eid - he said - despite our mourning for our slain leader."
Hussein appealed to religious minorities and to the government shed light on the case. "We have taken the Pope's appeal seriously - he says - and we want to spread it throughout the world. In recent months we have received much support from other communities. This has prompted the government to start a committee of investigation. Without this solidarity would have been impossible. "