ARTICLE 19, an international human rights organization working on freedom of expression and the right to information, has expressed concern over the attack and the disruption of religious gatherings of the Ahmadiyya community in Panchagarh. The rights body working on freedom of expression and right to information believes that the recent incidents of attacks on religious minorities and people of different beliefs in various parts of Bangladesh are manifestations of growing intolerance and hatred.
In a statement sent to the media today, ARTICLE 19 South Asia Regional Director Faruq Faisel said, ” In article 41 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, the state recognizes every citizen has the right to profess, practise or propagate any religion. Besides, the Constitution has given every religious community or denomination has the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that people of all communities in the country can practice their respective religions without hindrance and fear.
“Apart from the state, the people of the religious majority community also have a huge role to play in ensuring a tolerant and inclusive environment. In the year 622 AD, the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) said in the Madinah Charter with the aim of establishing brotherhood and harmony and establishing good governance among the conflicting communities in Madinah that Muslims, Christians, Jews, pagans and other communities will enjoy full freedom in religious matters. No one can interfere in anyone’s religious activities. They will treat each other as friends. The attack on the Ahmadiyya community in Panchagarh is a violation of the Madinah Charter”, he added.
It is noted that on February 3, leaders and activists of the Islamic Movement and like-minded religious organizations took out a protest procession in Ahmednagar of Panchagarh to demand the cancellation of the 3-day annual Salana Jalsa programme of the Ahmadiyya community after Friday prayers (February 03, 2023). 2 people were killed and around 50 people including 7 policemen were injured. At one stage of the conflict, 150 houses of the Ahmadiyya community were vandalized, set on fire and looted.
ARTICLE 19 called on the government to punish the perpetrators of the attacks on the people of the Ahmadiyya community and demanded for a transparent investigation into whether there was any negligence on the part of the law enforcement agencies in the incident and to take necessary action. It also claimed to ensure a tolerant environment for people of all communities to practice their religion without fear and without hindrance by establishing UN principle of Freedom of Rligion or Believe. .