04/24/2017, 13.24
BANGLADESH - SAUDI ARABIA
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Riyadh donates 10.8 billion euros to 560 mosques in Bangladesh: Muslims split

by Sumon Corraya

The agreement was signed between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Saudi king last year. The mosques will teach lessons to more than 150,000 children. They will have a daily capacity of more than 450,000 men and 30,000 women. "Imams must be controlled." "These mosques will not teach true Islam. People will learn extremism. "

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Saudi Arabia will donate $ 974.17 billion to Bangladesh [over 10.8 billion euros] to build 560 mosques according to the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry. The agreement between Dhaka and Riyadh was reached last year during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Saudi king Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. Officially, the donation will serve to bridge the shortage of places of Islamic worship in Bengal territory. However speaking to AsiaNews Muslim experts and teachers express mixed feelings: some rejoice at the news, others point out how a huge cash flow could bring with it and spread militant and extremist ideas.

The Saudi Plan foresees the construction of Category A, B and C buildings, based on the extension of the building area. They can accommodate at least 450,000 men and 30,000 women a day for prayers.  Facilities will be able to accommodate 2 thousand foreign tourists. There will also be read-reading libraries that will welcome more than 34,000 people.

The authorities ensure that the distribution of the mosques will be capillary and even the smallest district, municipal or administrative sub-district will have at least one. According to the project, the places of worship will have to provide primary education to more than 150,000 children and it will be possible to carry out the registration operations for Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) directly on site.

Zillur Rahman, president of Baag-a-Jannat Mahila Madrasha, an Islamic school (madrassa) for women alone, believes that it is "a good initiative, especially because the villages lack mosques. But the government must take on imams formed by the Bangladesh Islamic Foundation (organization under the control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, ndr). Only then can the mosques be able to spread the right teaching, otherwise there is a risk that wrong doctrines will come from these places of worship. " Even those who evaluate the imams, he adds, "must recognize those who is qualified and who is not."

In contrast, Harun-ur-Rashid, a university professor, states: "The government must not accept any donation. Saudi Arabian authorities seek to conquer the hearts of the people of Bangladesh because they need the support of Islamic countries. But these mosques will not teach true Islam. People will learn extremism. "

Naeem Mohaiemen adds that Bangladesh "shows little historical memory and shame, because we have accepted a gift from a country that has tried - and has managed - to undermine our birth." He remembers that in 1972-1975, the Saudis "refused to recognize the new state of Bangladesh because we had dared to detach ourselves from Islamic Pakistan". The man also states that when then President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was murdered on August 15, 1975, the father of the current Prime Minister Hasina, who had led the country towards independence - "Pakistan was the first country to recognize the military regime of Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, and Saudi Arabia was the second. "

Regarding the Saudi donation, Mohammod Talha, head of Jamia Islam Madrasha, states that "it is a very positive and timely initiative. We need more mosques, but the government must monitor what happens inside them. Only the Koran should be taught. "

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