Dhaka: “From the barbaric attack on Gulshan restaurant in Dhaka and other murder incidents in recent times, it is clear that some local and international quarters are out to destabilize the country and foil its advancement through such incidents. They are radicalizing the tender-hearted youths and juveniles to wrong directions by misguiding them in the name of religion and making them killing people. This group wants to tarnish the image of Bangladesh using religion and discredit the Government both at home and abroad as well as create a sense of fear and insecurity among our people. They do not like the secular values that the government is promoting and want to prove Bangladesh as a failed state.”
This was observed by the Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Shahriar Alam, at the Roundtable on Terrorism, Religion-based Politics and Secularism this past Sunday (28 August 2016) at Dhaka University’s Senate Bhaban.
Alam said that the Banglqadesh Government strongly condemns both the politicizing of religion and use of religion to justify terrorist or violent extremist acts. “We firmly reject any narrow, misinterpretation of Islam, our religion of peace”, he asserted.
The Bangladesh Foreign Minister said that the law enforcing agencies are verifying if the terrorists had received any guidance from the international terrorist groups. Whoever is involved, the Government is determined to arrest the criminals and put them behind the bar. At any cost, the Government will break the nexus between terrorism, extremism, and radicalization and eliminate them all from Bangladesh.
Alamstated in categorical terms that freedom of religion is a corner stone of Bangladesh Constitution. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution has restored “Secularism” as one of the fundamental pillars of state policy. While Islam is recognized as a State Religion, the Constitution also recognizes the equal rights for the practice and promotion of other religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. It also states that every religious community or denomination has the right to establish, maintain, and manage its own religious institutions. Bangladesh Government pursues an equitable approach in promoting different religious institutions and practices with a view to upholding its multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural identity and in line with that actively advocates the motto: “Each unto his or her religion, Festivals are for All”.
Quoting Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, Alam recalled the National Assembly speech on 12 October 1972 by the Father of the Nation, who had unequivocally said: “Muslims shall observe their religious ritual, no one in this state can oppose them. Hindus shall observe their religious rituals and none will oppose them. Similarly Buddhists and Christians shall observe their religious ritual without any impediment. The only thing that we won’t allow is the use of religion as a political weapon.”
Alam stated that the Bangladesh Government maintains a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to any form of violence, terrorism and discrimination against the minorities, both based on religion and sects of any particular religion, under any excuse.
In line with the provisions of the Constitution and the directives of the Father of the Nation, the present Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina continues to nurture unequivocal efforts to actively promote non-communal ethos and peaceful coexistence, emphasised Alam.
Concluding his remarks, Alam said: “To reverse the radicalization trend among certain segments of our youth and foil the religion-based politics, we need sustained support from all corners of our society, from our civil society to religious leaders, from our media to private sectors- for advocacy against terrorists and violent extremists. Our media, mosques and other religious institutions can play a pivotal role in awareness building campaigns and projecting comprehensive counter-narrative in the backdrop of the recent terrorist attacks.”