DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says she is on Saudi Arabia's side as it has taken the initiative to fight terrorism in the name of Islam.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon Muslim countries to join hands to launch a concerted campaign to eliminate terrorism.
“Everybody who believes in peace should be united against terrorism,” she told a mammoth rally of Islamic religious leaders and scholars in the city's Suhrawardy Udyan.
Bangladesh has seen a surge in militant attacks in the recent past. While the government says it is the handiwork of neo-Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, even as the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The programme was organised to mark the 42nd founding anniversary of the Islamic Foundation.
The PM said Bangladesh will be on Saudi Arabia's side as it took the initiative to fight terrorism and violent extremism in the name of Islam. She reiterated her solidarity with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz's initiative.
Hasina said weapons producers' traders were the eventual beneficiaries of militancy at the cost of Muslims' blood.
“It's very unfortunate that Muslims are being killed by Muslims. So I hope that the initiative of the Saudi King would help make all Muslim countries aware of the fact,” she added.
Vice President of two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah Mohammed bin Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Khuzaim and Imam and Preacher of the Prophet's (SM) mosque Abdulmehsin bin Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman Al-Qasim attended the rally as special guests.
Mohammed Al-Khuzaim thanked the PM for inviting him to Bangladesh and extending warm hospitality.
He said the Saudi government was making efforts to uphold the dignity of Muslims across the world. In view of this, an institution was established to expand Islamic cultural education and correction of people worldwide.
Terming the killing of innocent people a sin in Islam, he said the religion never allowed a Muslim to kill another one or innocent non-Muslims. According to Islam, it's the duty of a Muslim to protect the lives and property of non-Muslims in his country, he added.
“The killers of innocent people can never belong to Islam,” the vice president of the holy mosques said. He urged Muslims to stand against terrorism and militancy.
He praised Bangladesh's efforts in containing terrorism saying it was one of the countries successfully spearheading the anti-militancy campaign.
Abdul Rahman Al-Qasim hoped their tour would strengthen the Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia relations under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina.
The PM said her government would not tolerate any ulterior design to undermine Islam and that it was ready to work together with other countries to eliminate the local and international roots of terrorism and militancy.
It's the duty of every Muslim to propagate the message of peace and work for peace and the Bangladesh government was trying to educate people and train up religious leaders towards that end, Hasina told the programme.
Welcoming the vice-president of the holy mosques and the Khatib of the Prophet's (SM) mosque, she said their presence and inspirational speeches at the rally would stimulate the religious spirit of the people of Bangladesh. “It will make our task easy to establish peace in the society.”
She thanked the Saudi king for sending the two top religious leaders to Bangladesh. She also conveyed her best wishes to all Imams and Ulemas of the two holy mosques.
Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the pioneer in promoting Islam in Bangladesh. “Bangabandhu had founded the Islamic Foundation for promotion of Islam and provide real education to people about the religion.”
Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country, but people of other religions live here in peace and harmony which is the true spirit of Islam, the PM said.
She urged the Ulema-Mashayeks to reach the real message of Islam to the people.
She said a vested quarter was out to portray Awami League (AL) as an anti-Islam party, particularly after the killing of Bangabandhu in 1975.
She recalled that Bangabandhu had banned wine, gambling and horse race in the country to uphold the spirit of Islam.
Bangabandhu had procured a dedicated ship, Hizbul Bahar, for carrying hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia which was turned into a recreational vessel by BNP founder Ziaur Rahman, she told her audience.
Bangabandhu also had allocated land for the world's second largest religious congregation Biswa Ijtema, formed the Madrasa Education Board and took steps for renovation of all mosques across the country, the PM added.
She highlighted the steps taken by her government for promotion of Islam and welfare of the religious leaders.
For the first time in the country, the AL government constituted a trust fund to provide financial support to Imams, Muazzins and other religious leaders, she pointed out.
The government decided to construct a central mosque and an Islamic cultural centre in every upazila, Hasina said.
Spiritual leaders, Imams, students and pious people from far-flung areas of the country joined the rally, with Religious Affairs Minister Matior Rahman in the chair.