Bangladesh is not and cannot be allowed to be a land of persecution.
To that end, the recent anti-Ahmadiyya rally organized by Islamist group Khatme Nobuat is a dangerously regressive development, that should be cause for serious concern.
This is not the first time, unfortunately, that Bangladesh has seen this sort of attitude leveled towards Ahmadiyyas, though, thankfully, not for several years.
Systematic oppression of the Ahmadiyyas has existed for over half a century -- with over a dozen of their members getting killed and over a hundred attacks being carried out against their community over the years -- with its most prominent manifestation being during the last period of BNP-Jamaat rule.
In fact, during the Four Party Alliance government’s tenure, there was implicit (and oftentimes explicit) support from the government towards anti-Ahmadiyya activities, such as the banning of the Ahmadiyya Publications in 2004, and the community had to live in fear, suffering several attacks.
Fortunately, the AL government has made tolerance and religious freedom two of its hallmarks, and we have come a long way in the last decade.
But as recent events make clear, the ugliness still remains, and groups such as Khatme Nobuat stand ever ready to fan the flames of intolerance.
The continued persecution of a minority cannot be something we can accept as a nation anymore, especially as a nation that thrives on diversity and spirit of community, one that was built on the values and principles of secularism and equality.
We trust that the current government will, therefore, continue to live up to its principles, and ensure that such hatred is not allowed to spread within Bangladesh.
There are laws against incitement to violence, as there are laws against stirring up religious hatred and enmity. Let us see them used.