By Sanjib KR BaruahIn a tactic that many multi-cultural countries can draw a lesson from, ulemas (Islamic theologists) and imams (those who lead Friday prayers) are emerging as key people in countering the forces of terror in Bangladesh. The move was decided in a special meeting of the country’s Cabinet Committee on Law and Order on July 10, just nine days after the Gulshan attack in which 29 people were killed.
Several prominent ulemas wanted action against the Mumbai-based Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik much before the July 1 Gulshan attack, said Bangladesh’s information minister Hasanul Haq Inu, who is here on a six-day visit.
“In the last year, ulemas came up with written complaints against Naik. We are examining it. We think his teachings, in certain cases are not in compliance with the Quran or Hadith. So, that is creating confusion,” Mr Inu said.
Acting over reports of large-scale radicalisation, the Gulshan attack and over 43 attacks on thinkers, gay activists, bloggers and practicing Sufis, Bangladesh has embarked on a major plan to de-radicalise and swoop down on the forces of terror.
Besides setting up and operationalising anti-terror public resistance committees comprising community policemen, civilians, political representatives etc, at the police Thana levels all across Bangladesh at a blitzkrieg pace, Friday sermons across the 2,50,000 mosques across the country are being monitored by the imams themselves.
They have also been asked to impart the positive preachings in line with real Islamic ideology, which denounces terrorism and extremism. More than one lakh imams have also signed on a pledge document denouncing terrorism and have volunteered to keep an eye on suspicious activities.
The visiting minister reiterated that Bangladesh’s brand of Islam was unique and different from what is being preached in other Muslim countries. “There are two bombs in our region. The poverty bomb and the communal bomb. They have to be defused fast.”
Inu, who fought in the 1971 Liberation War as a Mukti Bahini guerrilla, blamed the growth of terror forces in his country on Pakistan and its legacy.
“Terrorism in Bangladesh has a legacy and that legacy is the 1971 liberation war. Here Jamat-e-Islami, a party using Islam, was a corroborator with Pakistani aggressive force,” he said adding terrorism in Bangladeshi has its roots in Jamat-i-Islami and Pakistan’s ISI.
Extracted from asianage