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Praying for peace in Dhaka

· ​Text developed and released to imams by the Bangladesh Islamic Foundation ·

Sermons against terrorism are spreading in Dhaka in order to stop the climate of tension that for weeks has swept across the country. In fact, as of 15 July the Government has distributed a text, prepared by the Bangladesh Islamic Foundation, to imams to be preached during Friday prayer. Following the massacre that took place in Dhaka on 1 July and the following attack during the Eid al-Fitr Prayer in Sholakia, the Government has implemented a series of steps to curb the violent and fundamentalist drift. These steps included shutting down “Peace TV”, the TV channel run by an Indian preacher whose speeches, which praised jihad, could have directly influenced the bombers.

For the first time in the history of Bangladesh, the government has distributed sermons. “In our mosque”, said Safiqual Haq, a Muslim resident in the Uttara area, to AsiaNews, “the imam asked us to pray for peace in the country and he condemned attacks carried out in the name of Islam. He clearly said that we must keep away from every type of terrorist activity”. The Friday sermons were written in Arabic and then delivered in the Bengali language. Almost half of the 600,000 mosques in the country have received the text from the Bangladesh Islamic Foundation, a foundation that has also relocated staff in order to monitor compliance with the guidelines. Shamim Mohammad Afzal, the head of the foundation, explained that “it is not mandatory to follow the sermon, but we hope that the imams do follow it, or take a cue from it”. Faruk Hossion, another Muslim resident, stated: “If all of us clearly unite against terrorism and spread the appropriate lessons to our children, no one would be misled by these ideas”.

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