Vandalism of Bangladesh restaurants ‘violating’ Ramadam

Guest post by Bangladesh Humanist Blogger Prithu Sanyal (Twitter: @atheistprithu)

Prithu Sanyal – Secular Blogger in Bangladesh

Across the world the month of Ramadan is observed with respect.

In my home country of Bangladesh, most of the restaurants and tea stalls are closed to respect Ramadan and those fasting. Some maintain their business for those who are non-Muslims and are not fasting. As is normal practice here they are strictly maintaining their shops under curtain so foods and customers are not visible from the street or outside.

On 9th of June at Kalyanpur, a place in the Capital city Dhaka, some people claimed themselves as members of “Pobitrata Rokkha Committee” ( a committee to conserve the value of Ramadan) and vandalised those shops who served foods for the non-Muslims. They not only vandalised the shops, but also threw sand and urinated on the foods so these cannot be used later.

On 15th June three men vandalised the canteen of the court of Sylhet a divisional city of Bangladesh. They claimed the canteen keeper is violating the holy Ramadan, so it’s their duty to vandalise the shop. Seven were injured in the attack.

These are not isolated incidents, and now the administration government of the Chadpur district have set some rules for the restaurants of when they can open and close in the month of Ramadan. In addition there are more groups active across the country to ‘preserve value of Ramadan’ in the same way.

Such practices have developed in recent years after the rise of an Islamic extremist group called “Hefajat-e-Islam” (Conserve of Islam) and negotiations between them and the government. This extremist group have in the past called for hanging of secular and atheist bloggers. The group have also sought to change the text books in schools by removing secular views. Indeed the government relented to hardline demands and 17 poems deemed too “Atheist” were removed from school textbooks.

Recently, “Hefajot-e-Islam” sought to remove the sculpture of Lady Justice from the premises of Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Under these demands the government removed it (before later reinstalling it). The Prime Minister Shekh Hasina has not helped reduce anti-atheist feeling. She has in the past denounced those writing “filthy words” against Islam.

The government is not willing to establish the equal right of its citizen rather is happy to promote the demands of Islamists. They have sought to curb secular voices in the Information Communications Act which has set to protect Islamic fundamentalism. There are currently more than hundred cases before the courts following this law.

Though there is a state religion in the Constitution of Bangladesh which is Islam, it is also a secular state by its constitutional declaration. It is not certain, how the government is selling Bangladesh in the international community but, it seems to us that Bangladesh is starting on a path of observing Islamic extremist views.

Humanist Society Scotland are members and help fund the International Humanist and Ethical Union. IHEU help support non-religious people around the world where they are persecuted such as in Bangladesh. By being a member of Humanist Society Scotland you help fund this important work in Bangladesh and around the world, join us or donate today.

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