Friday 30 October 2020.Time-
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Hasina bats for secular Bangladesh

Dhaka, 13 April, Abnews:Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reiterated her government’s determination to make Bangladesh a secular country, free of war criminals, Razakars and all those opposed to the values of the Liberation War.

‘Bangladesh will be a non-communal democratic country free of Razakars, Al Badr and war criminals,’ she said interacting with Awami League activists from Pabna at her official residence Ganabhaban on Saturday. She vowed to build a Bangladesh where people of all faiths could practise their religions peacefully and without fear. ‘Our country will be run in keeping with the spirit of the Madinah Charter of our beloved Prophet Muhammad and the speech of his last Hajj,’ Hasina said suggesting there is no contradiction between Islam and tolerance towards other faiths. Prophet Muhammad drafted the Madinah Charter shortly after his Hijra in 622 AD. It constituted a formal agreement between the Prophet and all significant tribes and families of Madinah to ensure that people of all faiths had equal religious rights and no one interfered with others’ practices. The Prime Minister’s statement comes at a time when demonstrators at Shahbagh are demanding maximum penalty for convicted war criminals and a ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami, while the radical Hifazat-e Islam is demanding punishment to the Shahbagh demonstrators, describing them as ‘atheist bloggers’.

Little-known Hifazat has alleged the government was ‘aiding atheist bloggers’, while the demonstrators at Shahbagh alleged the government had reached an understanding with the Chittagong-based group, widely believed to be backed by the Jamaat. Earlier in this month, the Hifazat took out a long march from the port city and held a rally in Dhaka to press for a number of its demands. A minister had held talks with the group over their programme. Organisers of the Shahbagh movement see the government’s discussion as ‘attempts to compromise with fundamentalists’. The government has detained several blog activists for allegedly hurting religious sentiments after the Hifazat demanded punishment to the bloggers. The Ganajagaran Mancha has criticised the move. Acting Editor of BNP-leaning Bengali-language daily ‘Amar Desh’ Mahmudur Rahman has been detained for whipping up communal passion. The Shahbagh demonstrators had demanded his arrest, but the Hifazat protested it. ‘We (the government) will not tolerate any defamatory remarks against any religion,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘If anyone makes a derogatory remark on Prophet Muhammad, we’ll certainly take steps.’ Hasina greeted everyone on Pahela Boishakh, the first day of Bengali New Year commencing Sunday. The government had accused the opposition of hatching an oust-government conspiracy in the guise of Hifazat’s Apr 6 rally. The Awami League chief said opposition leader Khaleda Zia was ‘unhappy’ as it did not happen. She said the Hifazat had observed its programme and placed its various demands, but the government would meet only those which were logical.

One of the demands of the radical organisation is banning mixing of sexes in public, a demand which drew flak from all quarters.


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