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BANGLADESH: Hindus, Buddhists and Christians ‘No to Islam as state religion’

Every year the anniversary of the constitutional amendment recognising Islam as state religion is marked as a ‘black day’. “If this state of affairs continues, Islamic extremism and communalism will end up creating serious problems”, says the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council.

By Sumon Corraya

 

Asia News (10.06.2021) – https://bit.ly/2TTZB7T – In Bangladesh, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian religious leaders yesterday marked “Black Day” together. On 9 June 1988, Islam became state religion following the adoption of the eighth amendment to the constitution.

 

The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC) has promoted the initiative on June 9 each year. This year, in a virtual meeting due to the pandemic, representatives of the largest organisation defending the rights of religious minorities renewed its call for the amendment to be scrapped.

 

“With the amendment, the seed of sectarian politics were planted,” said BHBCUC president Nirmol Rozario, a Catholic, speaking to AsiaNews. “In a country where Hindus, Buddhists and Christians also live, a single religion cannot be the state religion. We object to it.”

 

Constitutionally, “Bangladesh is a secular country, but its state religion is Islam. This is a clear contradiction,” Rozario explained. “If this state of affairs continues, Islamic extremism and communalism will end up creating serious problems.”

 

At the meeting, Sultana Kamal, a prominent lawyer and human rights advocate, noted that secularism was asserted at the birth of Bangladesh in 1971 in a bloody war. Hence, she wonders why the current prime minister* agrees with such discrimination. “Usually,” she noted, “constitutions are changed to improve them, but in our country in 1988 it was done to favour only one religious group.”

 

In light of the present situation, BHBCUC general secretary Rana Dasgupta called for the establishment of a security commission for minority communities. “Religious minorities are often persecuted by the majority group. For our security, we strongly demand a minority ministry and a commission for religious communities.”

 

* The current Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, is the daughter of the Father of the Nation Mujibur Rahman.

Photo : AsiaNews.it

Further reading about FORB in Bangladesh on HRWF website





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CHINA: Since 2014 Beijing has imprisoned at least 630 imams in Xinjiang

According to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, 18 Muslim clerics have died in prison or immediately after their release. Many have not been heard from for some time. Little official documentation exists about people sent to concentration camps. Uyghurs and members of other Muslim groups have been imprisoned just for praying.

 

AsiaNews (13.05.2021) – https://bit.ly/2QmM5Ze – Since 2014, Chinese authorities have imprisoned or detained at least 630 imams and other Muslim clerics in Xinjiang, this according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) based on research it shared with the BBC. In all, 18 clerics have died in detention or shortly after their release.

The study looked at the fate of 1,046 imams, mostly ethnic Uyghurs, based on official papers, testimonies by relatives, public and private databases, and media reports.

The actual numbers are probably much higher since Chinese authorities do not report most cases involving incarceration in concentration camps, which often takes place without formal charges.

Jailed clerics are usually accused of “propagating extremism,” “inciting separatism” or “gathering crowds to disrupt the social order.” In reality, according to their relatives, they are targeted simply for praying, organising prayer groups, translating religious texts, i.e. performing their normal duties as imams.

Western countries, the United Nations Human Rights Agency, humanitarian organisations and academics have long accused China of repression against Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim minority groups living in the autonomous Xinjiang region.

According to expert data, confirmed by the United Nations, Chinese authorities hold or have held more than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz people in Xinjiang internment and labour camps, often forced to take part in the cotton harvest.

Some independent researchers also claim that the Chinese government is conducting a local campaign of forced sterilisations to control the growth of the Muslim population.

Beijing has rejected the accusation of genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities, calling it the “lie of the century.” Chinese leaders say that the camps in the autonomous region are not concentration camps, but vocational centres implementing projects to reduce poverty, as well as fight terrorism and separatism.

The UHRP study shows that all 1,046 imams they were able to track down were detained at one point or another. In 630 cases, court documents and direct testimonies could be cross-referenced.

Of these, at least 304 clerics were reportedly sent to prison rather than to the network of “re-education” camps. About 96 per cent were sentenced to at least five years whilst 26 per cent got 20 years or more, including 14 life sentences.

The families of prisoners often have no news of where they are being held. This is the case, for example, of Abidin Ayup, a prominent scholar and imam from the city of Atush who was taken into custody in 2017.

Ayup’s family believes he is in a hospital detention facility. His niece Maryam Muhammad, who now lives in the United States, said that about 60 members of her extended family have been arrested, including her uncle’s eight children.

Photo : AsiaNews.it





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EGYPT: ISIS executes a Coptic Christian in North Sinai

Nabil Habashi Khadim, 62, was an esteemed merchant and philanthropist. He was kidnapped on 8 November last and killed with a Kalashnikov shot to the head. His murder was posted online by the jihadist movement who accused him of having contributed to the construction of the only Christian place of worship in Bir Al-Abd.

 

 

AsiaNews (19.04.2021) – https://bit.ly/3n1IATG – The Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) has executed an Egyptian Orthodox Coptic Christian, killing him with a bullet to the head in an execution filmed and posted online yesterday on the jihadist group social channels and shared by numerous users and platforms.

 

The victim, already considered a “new martyr” by the country’s Orthodox, is an esteemed intellectual and businessman: 62 year-old Nabil Habashi Khadim who was kidnapped on November 8 in the city of Bir Al-Abd, in northern Sinai. In the video he is seen being shot in the head with a Kalashnikov while kneeling on the ground.

 

Local sources report that the man had contributed to the construction of the only Christian place of worship in the city, the church of the Madonna dell’Anba Karras (Our Lady). This is also one of the reasons that led the jihadist commando to kidnap him.

In the video, one of the executioners belonging to the local Daesh cell (Arabic acronym for IS) explicitly accuses the man of having contributed, even financially, to the construction of the church just before pulling the trigger and executing him. The jihadist group also accuses the Church of “collaboration” with the Egyptian army, police and secret services.

 

Still others link the timing of the killing to the upcoming Easter holidays, which fall on May 2 for the Coptic Orthodox.

 

Witnesses say that Nabil Habashi Khadim, the latest in a “long line of North Sinai martyrs” was an esteemed jeweller from the city of Bir Al-Abd. His family is considered to be among the oldest in the Coptic community in the area, very active in the gold trade as well as owning a clothing store and a cell phone resale business.

 

On 8 November a group of men, armed but in civilian clothes, kidnapped him on the street in front of his house and fled undisturbed. In all these months the searches of the police and the appeals of the family for his release have been in vain.

His death caused grief and emotion in the Egyptian Coptic community, whose leader Pope Tawadros II issued a stark condemnation and asked for prayers for the man “kidnapped by Takfiri elements in North Sinai five months ago and subsequently martyred”.

 

The Church, continues the note, “weeps for a son and a faithful servant” who is now in the heavenly glory of Christ for having “testified to his faith even to the sacrifice of blood”. The declaration concludes by confirming the support of the Coptic Orthodox community “for the efforts of the Egyptian state” to counter “these hateful acts of terrorism” and “to preserve our dear national unity” for a “future of peace and prosperity”.

 

Islamic extremist groups have been fighting for years in northern Sinai, which intensified following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and the rise of the Islamic State in the region the following year. Several Christians have also been targeted, killed in attacks against individuals and groups of faithful.

 

In February 2018, the Egyptian security forces, the army and the police launched a massive campaign against armed groups and jihadists, with particular attention to the North Sinai area.

 

In just over two years, more than 840 terror suspects and over 60 soldiers have been killed.

 

Photo : AsiaNews.it





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CHINA: Church: «knowing, thanking, listening, following the Party»

Across China, multiple celebrations mark the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. Catholics and other believers can choose among a panoply of seminars, conferences, trips, visits, and exhibits. For Mgr Ma Yinglin, without the Communist Party there would be no New China, no socialism with Chinese characteristics, and no happy life for people today.

 

AsiaNews (19.04.2021) – https://bit.ly/3szQRPV – The centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China is being celebrated under the banner of “knowing, thanking, listening, following the Party”.

Catholics can choose among a number of seminars, conferences, trips, visits, and exhibits, after the Council of Bishops and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) decided to decree the centennial as the most important event for the Church in China. Indeed, “knowing” means “knowing the history” of the Party, which is why a deep ‘communist’ education must be assimilated.

 

In Fujian, conferences and visits to sites important in the history of communism were held between 12 and 14 April under the banner “Love the Party, love the homeland, love socialism” with the participation of more than 50 representatives from all official religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism).

 

The official report of the events stressed the emergence of a “State Church”, totally obedient to the emperor with “a solemn flag raising ceremony in a Catholic church in Changting (Fujian) in what was the first event of its kind involving the five main religions in a place of religious activity in the province”.

 

Seminars on “knowing, thanking, listening, following the Party” were also held in Guangdong. Last Saturday, the Standing Committee of the Guangdong Church focused on an “Independent, Self-Managed, and Self-Elective Church (in episcopal appointments and ordinations).”

 

These reflect the long-term goals of the CPCA, and before that, Mao Zedong, i.e. the creation of a Chinese national Catholic Church, subject to the power of the state.

 

Buddhist communities also held “thanksgiving” events, celebrating the Party.

 

Last Thursday, Liu Yuanlong, CPCA vice-president and secretary general, chaired a second seminar in Beijing on the history of the Party, along with the president of the Council of Bishops, Mgr Ma Yinglin, one of the bishops whose excommunication Pope Francis reversed.

 

“In his closing speech, Bishop Ma Yinglin pointed out that history has clearly shown that without the Communist Party there would be no New China, no socialism with Chinese characteristics, and no happy life for people today.

 

“China’s Catholic community should actively respond to the initiative to ‘love the Party, love the homeland, love socialism’, as well as firmly support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, support the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, firmly follow the path of patriotism and love, and actively adapt to socialist society” .

 

On 11 April, a conference on the history of the Party was also held in Shifang (Sichuan), chaired by Fr Liu Conghua, organised by Luo Min, deputy director of the Shifang Municipal Office, centred on “Developing the Study of Party History and Educational Propaganda in Religious Circles”.

 

Tang Jun, a representative of the United Front, urged the Catholic Church to “unite patriotism and love in order to teach the history of the Party.”

 

Last but not least, a real show of “gratitude” towards the Communist Party came on Easter in Zhengzhou (Henan) where many churches are closed due to the pandemic, while cinemas, restaurants, factories, and entertainment centres are open.

 

Here, a priest, Fr Wang Yuesheng, stood in front of a closed church (see picture), holding a special exhibit dedicated to the “glorious history of the founding of the Communist Party”. This shows how people can be grateful to the Party for the closed doors of the church.

Photo : asianews.it





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BANGLADESH: Minorities protest in Dhaka against anti-Hindu violence

Christians, Buddhists and Hindus held a rally to protest against an attack by Muslim radicals against the Hindu community in Sunamganj District. The mob desecrated a temple. One minority leader lamented the fact that “the police and local authorities were silent” on the day the country celebrated 50 years of independence and the creation of a secular state.

 

by Sumon Corraya

 

AsiaNews (22.03.2021) – https://bit.ly/2Qp8Gnn – The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council organised a rally on Saturday in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka to protest against an attack three days earlier against the Hindu community in Noagaon, a village in Shalla (Sunamganj District). About a hundred leaders from religious minorities took part in the initiative.

 

On Wednesday of last week, supporters of the Hefajat-e-Islam Group and other radical Islamists attacked Hindu homes. A mob of several hundred men from Noagaon and nearby villages came with hand-made weapons forced their way into the homes and looted them.

 

Following the incident, the police arrested a local official, Shahidul Islam Swadhin, who also heads the local section of the Jubo League youth organisation.

 

At the rally in Dhaka, participants condemned the attack in Sunamganj. Christian James Subrata Hajra, deputy secretary general of the Bangladesh Christian Associationsaid he was tired of having to protest the persecution of minorities.

 

“We live in an independent country,” he said. “If the persecution does not stop, we minority groups will have to stage even bigger protests.” He urged the government to arrest all those responsible for the attack on Hindus.

 

Buddhist leader Ushaton Talukdar, president of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, is saddened by the indifference towards those who spread hate.

 

“While Hindus were being attacked, the police and local authorities were silent. They could have protected them but didn’t. In an independent country, we religious minorities shouldn’t live in fear. I call on the government to ensure justice.”

 

Hindu leader Neem Chandra Bhowmik stressed the importance of unity among minorities. “Yesterday I visited the village of Noagaon,” he said. “I saw what kind of attack was carried out. Radical fanatics have destroyed not only houses, but also desecrated the Hindu temple. This is a very sad fact that requires exemplary punishment.”

 

What makes the attack on a minority even more serious is that it coincided with the country’s celebration of 50 years of independence. Protesters noted that Bangladesh was born in 1971 after a bloody war to set up a secular state in which people of all creeds could live together as brothers.

 

Photo: AsiaNews.it


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