Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid on Thursday sought Pope Francis' help in sending back the displaced Rohingyas to their homeland and keeping up the pressure on Myanmar to resolve the protracted crisis.
The president came up with the call as Pope Francis, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, held a private talk with him after a reception hosted by the president in the evening.
"During the meeting, the president categorically sought Pope's active role so that different countries and the international community put pressure on the Myanmar government to settle the issue," President's Press Secretary Joynal Abedin quoted the president.
Thanking Pope's stance on the Rohingya issue, the president hoped that Pope Francis will play a positive role to ensure their (Rohingyas) safe and dignified return to their ancestral land.
He recalled the heartfelt support of the Vatican government during the Liberation War in 1971 and said the relations between Bangladesh and Vatican City strengthened gradually.
During another meeting with Pope Francis at Bangabhaban in the evening, President Hamid said the very commendable position of Pope Francis has taken in favour of the distressed Rohingyas and his passionate voice against such brutality, raises hope for resolving the crisis.
"Your closeness to them, your call for helping them and ensure their full rights provide moral responsibility to the international community to act with promptness and sincerity," the president said.
"Now, it is our shared responsibility to ensure them (Rohingyas) a safe, sound and dignified return to their own home and integration with the social, economic and political life of Myanmar."
President Hamid also said that Bangladesh has given shelter to one million Rohingyas who were forcefully displaced from their ancestral home in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.
He said thousands of Rohingyas, including women and children, were brutally killed, thousands of women violated as they saw their houses burnt into ashes.
"Our people have welcomed them with an open heart, sharing food, shelter and other basic needs. They've accepted the inconvenience of accommodating them in a densely populated land with limited resources," said the president.
“No religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism,” he added.
The government is pursuing a “zero tolerance” policy in eradicating the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism, he said, adding that it denounces extremism, in all its forms and manifestations.
At the same time, like other Muslim majority countries, Bangladesh remains concerned about the rise of Islamophobia and hate crimes in many western societies, which is adversely affecting the lives of millions of peaceful people of faith, the president said. "We believe that interfaith dialogues, at all levels of the society, are important to combat such extremist trends."
Highlighting the role of Pope Francis, he said that the Pope reminds that all have a sacred obligation to protect planet earth and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.
"We stand with you in your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to adverse effects of a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world," the president added.
Welcoming Pope Francis, Hamid said his visit to Bangladesh is recognition of the history of religious tolerance and harmony and the age-old tradition of peaceful coexistence by the people of different religions in Bangladesh.
Cabinet and parliament members, eminent citizens and diplomats were, among others, present at the meeting.