11/09/2020, 13.05
BANGLADESH
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Religious minorities protest against the constant attacks against them

by Sumon Corraya

At least 17 people from ethnic and religions minority communities were killed between March and September, whilst attacks continued even during the pandemic, said BHBCOP secretary general Rana Dasgupto.

 

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – A rally was held in front of the Shahbagh National Museum in Dhaka on Saturday to protest against anti-minority attacks.

About 500 people from about ten minority groups and organisations, including Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, took part in the demonstration.

The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad or BHBCOP), a minority advocacy group, organised the event.

Protesters said Islamists who are attacking Hindus and other minorities are “hurting religious sentiments”. The latest incidents involving minority communities include an arson attack on Hindu homes in Muradnagar, Comilla (Cumilla).

Minority leaders said they live in uncertainty as "the government has failed to protect them".

At least 17 people from religious and ethnic minority communities were killed between March and September, whilst the attacks continued even during the pandemic, said BHBCOP secretary general Rana Dasgupto.

The prime minister may want the Hindu community to live in peace and prosperity, but Dasgupto doubts that many in the ruling Awami League leaders want the same.

“It is harder to trust a minister or lawmaker from the ruling party,” the Hindu leader said. “They say one thing and do another. As minorities we have taken to the streets to continue to exist.

“Today we have spoken out against certain situations in which minorities are persecuted; please ensure justice for these groups,” he pleaded.

For the BHBCOP, it is noteworthy that since the incident in France of attacks and incitement against Muslim sentiments and the insults against the Prophet Muhammad, attacks have increased in Bangladesh.

Some Hindu students were arrested over a Facebook comment regarding the hurting of Muslim sentiments and the insults against the Prophet Muhammad.

In Saturday’s rally, protesters carried signs and banners saying "Stop Communalism: Wake Up Brave Bangalee," "Stop using Facebook for community attack", “Release all victims arrested on so-called charges of wounding religious sentiment,” “Identify, punish attackers,” etc.

The persecution of minority groups has continued, said acting BHBCOP president Nirmol Rozario, a Christian.

“Even if the government tries to give us hope for justice, minorities live in anxiety. To stop the persecution of minorities, we are calling for the establishment of a commission for minority groups and reserve seats in Parliament,” Nirmol said.

If something happens abroad, temples are burnt and destroyed in Bangladesh and minorities become victims, he explained.

Minority leaders have warned that they will lead a long march from Chittagong to Dhaka if attacks are not stopped immediately.

On 1 November, the homes of five families were vandalised and set on fire in Korbanpur, Muradnagar upazila (Comilla) after a man allegedly showed support for France by defending on Facebook the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

What is more, not only were some Hindu students arrested over a comment on Facebook allegedly offending religious sentiments, but other Hindu students also lost their university scholarships after they were accused of hurting religious sentiments. Protesters condemned these incidents as well.

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