09/26/2011, 00.00
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Nepal, Muslim leader shot to death while leaving a mosque

by Kalpit Parajuli
Ahijian Ahamed, Secretary General of the Islamic Federation of Nepal, was killed this afternoon in front of the mosque of Ghantaghar. He was shot by two men on a motorcycle. The involvement of Hindu extremists is suspected. Fear increases among religious minorities.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Ahijian Ahamed, Secretary General of the Islamic Federation of Nepal, was killed in front of the Ghantaghar mosque (Kathmandu). Around 13:45 (local time) two men aboard a motorcycle shot the Muslim leader as he was coming out of the mosque after daily prayer, wounding him fatally. Assisted by some passers-by, Ahamed, 36, died a few hours later in hospital.

The reasons for the killing are unknown. However, religious leaders and experts think it is a way to spread terror among the population, and stop work on the new secular constitution, currently under consideration in Parliament.

The killing of Ahamed sparked concern and pain among Muslims, but also among Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Buddhists and Bahá'ís, who expressed their solidarity and condemned the act. Relatives of the victims staged a sit-in protest in front of the mosque and at Sunsari, the birthplace of the Muslim leader, to ask the government for the rapid capture of those responsible for the murder.

Nazrul Hussein, president of the Islamic Sangh Nepal Federation, says that the news was a shock for the Muslim community. "Most of these incidents", he explains, "aim only to create panic and undermine the solidarity among religious groups." For the leader, the attack is the work of Hindu religious extremists, who were responsible for several attacks against Muslims and Christians in the past.

"We condemn these acts in the strongest terms", said Narayan Sharma, a Protestant bishop, "we are deeply concerned with this incident as it does not seem like an isolated case. We will not be made afraid by any such elements that try to create fear in establishing secularism in the country."

In recent years, Nepal has witnessed several murders and attacks against religious minorities, usually at the hands of Hindu extremists. In 2008, gunmen belonging to an extremist fringe shot to death Fr. John Prakah, a Jesuit priest. On April 26, 2008, the Nepal Defence Army, a Hindu extremist group, detonated a bomb inside the Birantnagar mosque, killing two people. On May 23, 2009, the same group placed a bomb in the Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption of Kathmandu. The balance is two dead and thirteen wounded. (K.P)
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