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Rights organisations demand removal of Baitul Mukarram khatib PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 26 April 2008

An alliance of about 50 human-rights and women's organisations Friday demanded the removal of Mufti Muhammad Nuruddin as the khatib of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, reports agency.

The alliance also demanded cancellation of the recommendations by a review committee formed to bring changes to the proposed national women's development policy, now at the heart of debate.

The call for removal of the chief cleric of the mosque came from a press conference, co-organised by Samajik Protirodh Committee and Nagorik Samaj, two NGOs that promote human rights, mainly women's.

A charter of demands includes an end to politics in religious institutions, a public announcement on equal rights as envisaged in the constitution and publication of a clear government stand on the women's policy in a press statement.

At the press conference at Kabi Sufia Kamal auditorium in Segunbagicha, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad chief Ayesha Khanam said armed attacks from a venue for prayers would affect democracy and stability of the country. Ayesha challenged the legality of forming such a review committee by the government.

She also criticised the role of the government in the women's development policy. Shahrier Kabir of Nagorik Samaj said the mosque had been turned into a den of extremists.

"The khatib is responsible for all this." Despite holding a government post, the khatib threatened to launch a civil war in the country, Shahrier alleged. The khatib denied the charges. Islamic hardliners fought with the police on April 10-11 leaving about 200 people injured in the Baitul Mukarram area, a rallying point for protests after Friday prayers.

Hundreds of bigots took to the streets to protest the government's proposed policy that prescribes equal rights to property. Accepting the recommendations of the review committee would be like returning to the medieval age, Ayesha said.

"The review committee is trying to establish fundamentalist politics in the guise of amending the women's development policy," she alleged. The khatib said: "What I had said was not aimed against an individual.

It was inspired by the Quran. I had just referred to Islamic principles laid out in the Quran. All Muslims have to follow those principles. I didn't violate any rule."

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