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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hasina extols secularism amid sectarian violence

Source: Daily Times

* Bangladeshi PM says secularism one of four main pillars of constitution

* Six cops suspended for attacking Hindu devotees


DHAKA: Even as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed extols the virtues of secularism and thanks her law enforcement agencies for ensuring a peaceful environment, there are reports of attacks on Puja mandaps across Bangladesh.

Hasina has said that everyone in Bangladesh is at liberty to practice his or her religion. “Secularism is one of the four main pillars of our constitution and it sounds hollow if people cannot practice their religions,” she said during her visit to the Dhakeshwari Temple.

She was greeted with flowers by leaders of the Hindu community. Her comments came amid reports on the same day that six cops were suspended in Sunamganj for attacking Hindu devotees at a Puja celebration. Another police sub-inspector was withdrawn for burning a festoon bearing an image of the goddess Durga.

In Narayanganj, 15 drunkards attacked a Puja pavilion. Police later arrested two of them. Hasina said, “Peace is the central message of all religions. We are working towards achieving that goal.” She went on to say that when her government took over the administration, it was beset with many problems and that they were trying to address them.

The prime minister quoted lines from the Sura-e-Kafirun, which recognises people’s right to religion. She added that Bangladeshis observe a number of festivals throughout the year and that her government is trying to create a peaceful environment to ensure proper atmosphere for their celebrations.

Hasina pointed out that this year, the main Hindu festival, Durga Puja, is being celebrated peacefully like the Eidul-Fitr. She thanked law enforcers for their efforts to maintain a peaceful atmosphere. “A harmonious environment has been created. We’ve people of all religions visiting the Puja pavilions and taking part in the festivities. This is Bangladesh,” Hasina added.

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