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Dhaka Tribune

The march of the ‘waz-mongers’

Misinformation and hatred disguised as religions preaching cannot be tolerated

Update : 03 Feb 2020, 11:00 PM

Recently, certain Bangladeshi parliament members came down heavily on Islamic evangelists at waz mahfils found in hundreds of videos hosted in social networks, especially Facebook and YouTube.

Journalist-turned-politician MP Shafiqur Rahman, celebrated folk singer MP Momotaz Begum, and others took the floor at the Jatiya Sangsad to protest the growth of these “waz-mongers.” Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury took cognizance of the lawmakers and asked Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal to take action against them.

The Islamist leaders’ sermons, in the videos, are agog with hate speech against secularism, democracy, our cultural traditions, the Liberation War, the history of Bangladesh’s independence, religious and ethnic minorities, bilateral relationships with India and the US, and a whole host of other “issues.”

In their war cry, these waz-mongers incite their audience to destroy the language martyrs’ memorial, the national martyrs’ memorial, extinguish the eternal flame, and to tear down any sculptures that signify the Liberation War.

These waz mahfils almost always contain some form of epithets being hurled at Ahmadiyya Muslims, usually dubbing them as heretics in conclusion. They explicitly rant against Hindus, branding them as kafirs, while Christians are infidels and bracket them as agents of Jews.

They dare to question the Liberation War, and the martyred intellectuals who fell prey to the clutches of the Pakistan army. They despise the observance of Pohela Boishak, Ekushey February, Krishna Janmashtami, Durga Puja, Buddha Purnima, Christmas, and other religious and cultural events.

They do not hesitate to demand the scrapping of the national constitution and to override it with the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith in order to govern the nation -- a nation born from the blood and tears of the martyrs who fought for its independence.

The hours of sermons available on the internet are viewed by tens of thousands, which makes one question just how far their “teachings” reach the people of this country. These Islamist radicals have also issued hate-speech against the national flag, the national anthem, and demanded the “Islamization” of school textbooks.

In a recent video that became viral on social media, the leader of the Bangladesh chapter of Khatme Nabuwwat acknowledged, and indeed boasted, that it was founded by Maulana Manzoor Ahmad Chinioti in Multan, and that the Bangladesh chapter is a “photocopy” of the Khatme Nabuwwat Movement Pakistan.

A background check of Maulana Manzoor Ahmed Chinioti shows that he was a jihadist and had incited sectarian violence in Pakistan.

According to a Pakistani newspaper, Maulana Chinioti’s preaching were full of lies and hatred, also mentioning how he had amassed wealth from the contributions of disciples who regularly donated to Khatme Nabuwwat.

In an attempt to bring Bangladesh into its network of terror, the notorious Pakistani leader visited Bangladesh in 1994 and became the focus of widespread discussion. News splashed in newspapers across the nation regarding his footprints in the more radical circles in our country.

Soon after, Professor Humayun Azad -- a writer, litterateur, and teacher at Dhaka University -- was attacked by a jihadist at the Ekushey book fair when Chinioti came to Bangladesh. He held a series of meetings with Maulana Obaidul Haq, Mufti Amini, Shaykh Ul Hadith Allamah Azizul Haque, and the central leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami in Dhaka.

The objective of Khatme Nabuwwat is to destabilize a secular, democratic and pluralist society and they attempted to convert Bangladesh into a radicalized Islamic state.

Unfortunately, none of the waz-mongers were accused of inciting people against the state. They were never charged for sedition, challenging the basic tenets of democracy, secularism, and pluralism. Nor were they accused of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Ahmadiyya Muslims, the indigenous population, and our already highly-oppressed LGBT community.

Their vilification of the ideals and values of the Liberation War, the achievement of the secular-democratic nation that we now have has been thwarted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s zero-tolerance policies on terror. Her determination to establish a pluralist nation is, after all, part of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s dream for the nation he helped liberate. 

Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, and is a recipient of the Ashoka Fellow and Hellman-Hammett Award.

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