Khatib leads prayers amid clashes again
Newly appointed Khatib of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque Mohammad Salauddin led Juma prayers on the second consecutive Friday yesterday amid protests and clashes inside and outside the mosque that left at least 25 people injured.
A group of people with shoes in their hands staged demonstrations near the mosque demanding removal of the khatib.
They also said Juma prayers separately on the road in front of north gate of the mosque.
Earlier, several hundred members of law enforcement and intelligence agencies were deployed in around the mosque to avert trouble on the third Friday centring appointment of the new khatib.
Witnesses said supporters and opponents of the khatib clashed on the road nearby affecting the Juma prayers, and many devotees attributed this to politics over the national mosque.
Apprehending untoward incidents, the law enforcers blocked the road from Paltan intersection to Dainik Bangla crossing, restricting transport movement for over two hours from noon.
Khatib Salauddin entered the mosque through its western gate with police protection, according to witnesses.
Trouble started soon after he came to the 'mehrab' inside the mosque to lead the Juma prayers. A group of people started shouting slogans against him.
"Some 20 people chanted slogans were driven out of the mosque by supporters of the khatib. They (supporters) also beat up the protesters with shoes and plastic boxes for keeping devotees' shoes," a witness said.
Another group of protesters clashed with supporters of the khatib on the eastern side of the mosque.
Witnesses said most of the 25 people injured in the clashes were protesters.
Earlier, security personnel allowed people to enter the mosque for Juma prayers after searching them with metal detectors.
Sources said the anti-khatib group mainly comprises students and teachers of different kawmi madrasas. And they are backed by some organisations like Sammilita Iman-Akida Hefajat Committee, Amra Dhaka Basi, Batel Pratirodh Committee, Baitul Mukarram Musalli Samaj and Imam Samaj.
Abdullah Al-Amin, who claimed himself to be a leader of Musalli Samaj, said they are opposing Khatib Salauddin since he is a follower of a 'controversial peer'.
Many devotees urged the government to take proper steps to stop recurrence of untoward incidents centring the new khatib that occurred at the national mosque on the third consecutive Friday yesterday.
Salauddin was appointed Khatib on January 1, and he took charge from acting khatib Mufti Maulana Nuruddin on January 16.
Meanwhile, a diplomat from a Muslim country in Dhaka said yesterday that following such incidents (as at Baitul Mukarram) in his country, the authorities removed all shoe boxes from mosques and strictly prohibited taking shoes inside those.
He said immoveable boxes could be kept outside mosques for keeping shoes.