Gazipur (AsiaNews) - More than two million Muslims took part in the first phase of the Bishwa Ijtema, the second largest Muslim gathering in the world after the Hajj.
The event is held every year in Bangladesh in Tongi, on the banks of the Turag River. Participants include at least 50,000 people from 130 countries, including China, United States, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Kingdom.
The Bishwa Ijtema (World Meeting) is an annual gathering organised by the Jamaat Tabligi (Society for the propagation of the faith), a transnational non-political religious movement whose goal is Islamic spiritual reformation.
To provide greater safety, the authorities decided to split the event into two phases: the first was held from 24 to 26 January; the second (and final) will be held from 31 January to 2 February.
Several precautionary measures are thus in place. The area for foreign devotees has been equipped with all basic services, including electricity, telephones, gas connectors and 4,000 toilets.
The government also set up 70 medical camps to provide free health care. All local doctors on holiday have been recalled for the occasion.
Finally, the director of Tongi Town Water Project said that 30 million litres of drinking water from 11 wells would be available.
Still, despite all the safety precautions, three people have died of a heart attack.