Friday, April 27, 2018

Perspective: Protection of Human Rights & Ahmadiyya in Bangladesh | Mansoor Ahmad


The right to follow any religious faith equally and freely is ensured to every citizen both by our constitution and religion which is a point that have been raised several times in the past while commenting on such issues.

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By Mansoor Ahmad | April 26, 2018

The Expression “Human Rights” was indicated seven times in the United Nation’s founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding code of the Organization. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the jurisdiction of international law in 1948. It has been since 1948 that the Organization has carefully protected human rights through legal implements and on-the-ground activities.
The Constitution of Bangladesh proclaims secularism as a fundamental principle of the Constitution and Islam as an official state religion. The Constitution protects religious freedom and guarantees equal status and equal rights in the practice of the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and other religions.

Bangladesh, which is the third largest Muslim-majority nation in the world currency been experiencing challenges from violent Islamist groups.

In current months members of the “Ahmadiyya’’, a religious community which deliberates itself a sect of Islam, have been the target of a hate campaign speech organized by Khatme Nabuwat members in the country. This Islamist group is believed to be targeting the Ahmadiyya community in an attempt to force the government to declare them “non-Muslims”. On Friday, the 20th April 2018 members of this Khatme Nabuwat group at an Anti-Ahmadiyya held in Brahmanbaria, a district under Bangladesh made hate speech terming the Ahmadiyya community members as ‘disbelievers and demanded to declare Ahmadiyya members as “non-Muslims”. At this Anti-Ahmadiyya the Khatme Nabuwat members also asked the Government to stop all of activities of Ahmadiyya members. This Anti-Ahmadiyya members demands are quite baseless and clearly the violation of human rights. With regard to religious freedom the constitution of Bangladesh is much better than other countries. It does not permit any one to make this type of hate speech.

Now the questions are – Aren’t the Ahmadiyya members citizens of Bangladesh? Don’t the Ahmadiyya followers have the rights to protect their properties? Isn’t the Ahmadiyya members constitutional and basic rights to build their mosque and practice their belief? Can the Administration do injustice to any of the Ahmadiyya citizens?

The Government of Bangladesh is obliged under international human rights law to protect the rights of members of the Ahmadiyya community and other religious minorities. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -ICCPR, to which Bangladesh is a party, guarantees the rights to freedom of religion and expression. Bangladesh is obligated to afford all persons the equal protection of the law and to provide to effective protection against discrimination based on religion. The religious minority members must not be denied the right to practice their own religion.

The right to follow any religious faith equally and freely is ensured to every citizen both by our constitution and religion which is a point that have been raised several times in the past while commenting on such issues. There is absolutely no room for such hate speech of a small group of people in the name of serving Islam. Islam does not need the service of the people who don't know that it is a religion which treats oppression of any type as an unpardonable offence.

Islam recognises the rights of freedom of conscience and freedom of belief and as far as one's religious belief is concerned, one is answerable to God alone. No man has the right to punish another for his choice of belief. There is absolutely no compulsion whatsoever in Islam and no punishment of any kind permitted in the Holy Quran for apostasy.

There is no mention in the Holy Quran or anywhere else of any punishment for an apostate. Allah says in the Holy Quran : 'There is no compulsion in religion’. (2:257).

The Holy Prophet SAW of Islam was the 'Champion of Human Rights'. Muhammad SAW not only emphasised the desirability of tolerance in religious matters but set a very high standard in this respect. A deputation from the Christian tribe of Najran visited him in Medina to exchange views on religious matters which included several Church dignitaries. The conversation took place in the mosque and it extended over several hours. At one stage the leaders of the deputation asked permission to depart from the mosque and to hold their religious service at some convenient spot. The Holy Prophet SAW  said: 'There is no need for you to go out of the mosque, because the mosque is the place to worship one God, if you want to do so, you have every freedom of worship, and holding the services in it. (Zurqani)'.

According to Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19): ' Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance'.

We hope that the government of Bangladesh will never show any type of gentleness to any disorder in the name of religion or religious feelings rather it would handle any such attempt by the radicals in iron hand. Because most of the people living in Bangladesh, irrespective of their religious faith, believe in communal harmony as we know that the extremists are essentially a minority. In-order to ensure of human rights of all minorities, including Ahmadiyya, the incumbents definitely need to do something significant as well to stop the overall activities of the fundamentalists and bigots.


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Mansoor Ahmad resides in London






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