Amid global protests, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina says quarters with vested interests tarnishing country’s image

Certain quarters with vested interests are out to tarnish the country’s image, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, as rights activists and Hindu organizations staged protests in front of Bangladesh embassies in several western capitals, highlighting the growing atrocities against minorities Hindus in Bangladesh

Oct 24, 2021
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Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

Certain quarters with vested interests are out to tarnish the country’s image, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, as rights activists and Hindu organizations staged protests in front of Bangladesh embassies in several western capitals, highlighting the growing atrocities against minorities Hindus in Bangladesh.

The recent widespread violence targeted at Hindus, which forms almost 10 percent of the country’s 160 million population, drew worldwide attention to the growing threat posed by Islamists in Bangladesh. 

Addressing an event to mark some development projects, Hasina on Sunday said, "Bangladesh will march forward, no one will ever be able to drag it back. Some incidents are happening… quarters with vested interest are deliberately trying to tarnish the country's image, and you all are aware of that."

Almost 100 places of worship, 180 homes, and businesses, belonging to the Hindu community were targeted during the recent violence, according to a report in The Daily Star newspaper. The government did quickly mobilize its machinery to contain the situation. However, the extent of damage was relatively higher in comparison to earlier violence incidents. 

While the government repeatedly assured the Hindu community and tried to take their representatives in confidence, it has also been accused of suppressing those groups that are quite vocal in highlighting the issues. 

For instance, the Twitter accounts of Bangladesh Hindu Unity Council and ISKCON Bangladesh--both of which were vocal in highlighting attacks-- were suspended. Over 700 temples run by ISKCON across the world staged protests on Saturday. 

While the attacks and protests drew worldwide attention, the fact that the Hasina government and its party, the Awami League, have been at the forefront of challenging the growing power of Islamists groups operating in the country and that more than 700 people have been arrested, has not been adequately highlighted, authorities felt.   

The Bangladesh government in recent years has cracked down hard on the Islamists groups like Hejafat and Jamaat-e-Islami, both of which are knowns for fueling anti-minority hatred. 

While condemning this violence, the rights groups, and the world also need to acknowledge the Hasina government is a partner-- not an adversary-- in protecting the interests of minorities in Bangladesh,  secular groups in the country feel.