Bangladesh ruling party mobilizes for Hindus after deadly violence | Religious News


The Awami League is planning a series of rallies over the next two weeks after one of the country’s worst episodes of religious violence.

Thousands of members of Bangladesh’s ruling party have come together to support the country’s beleaguered Hindu minority after one of the worst episodes of religious violence in the Muslim-majority country in more than 10 years.

The wave of clashes has left at least six dead, including two Hindus, and dozens of homes destroyed, according to local media. Police said 450 people had been arrested.

The attacks began on Friday when hundreds of Muslims protested in the southeastern district of Noakhali, accusing Hindus of a blasphemous incident involving the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

Several Hindu religious sites have been vandalized and houses have been attacked and set on fire.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party held a rally in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday, with thousands marching along a four-kilometer (2.5-mile) route through the heart of the city, calling for the end of violence.

“Stop this community evil, Bangladesh,” read a banner held by activists.

Elsewhere in Dhaka, several hundred writers gathered, holding up handwritten messages and small posters.

Protester holds placard during protest in Dhaka calling for an end to community violence and demanding justice for violence against Hindus [Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters]

“Teach your kids to love, not kill,” one said.

Calls for peace

Awami League lawmaker and former joint secretary general Mahbubul Alam Hanif said party workers were planning a series of rallies across the country over the next two weeks.

“The panic must go away,” Hanif told Reuters news agency.

Hindus make up about 10 percent of Bangladesh’s approximately 170 million people.

Authorities have filed 71 cases in connection with violence committed during the Hindu festival of Durga Puja, a spokesperson for the Bangladesh police said.

Community tensions have long simmered in Bangladesh, whose constitution designates Islam as the state religion but also upholds the principle of secularism.

“The recent attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh, fueled by hate speech on social media, are contrary to the values ​​of the Constitution and must stop,” tweeted Mia Seppo, the UN Resident Coordinator.

The rights group Amnesty International has called for an investigation and punishment of the perpetrators.

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