Khatib stays put
The government has decided not to tolerate further untoward incidents at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque centring newly appointed Khatib Maulana Muhammad Salahuddin.
A high-level meeting of the home ministry after thorough discussion on the matter decided on Monday to go tough on troublemakers.
Unpleasant incidents including chase and counter-chase and hurling of shoes took place in and around the country's main mosque during the last three Juma prayers.
Sources say the government perks and other benefits for the khatib, who enjoys the status of a joint secretary, seem to be the main reason behind the troubles brewed often centring the post.
The home ministry meeting also observed that if necessary they would create a panel of khatibs, who in turn will conduct the Friday prayers. Besides, reducing the perks of the khatib was also discussed at the meeting.
Apart from getting a government vehicle for use and home allowance, the khatib receives a handsome monthly salary and enjoys the chairmanship of Islami Bank's Shariah Council.
He also holds the posts of adviser or member of other Islami banks and insurance companies. But the most alluring side of becoming the khatib is the hadia (gifts) given by people at home and abroad.
Chaired by Home Minister Sahara Khatun, the meeting also unanimously reached a consensus that the immediate past caretaker government chose the right person as the khatib, who delivers sermon during Friday or Eid prayers.
"Mosque is the holy place and no disorder there will be tolerated. Tough actions will be taken against troublemakers if they try again to create unrest," said State Minister for Home Affairs Tanjim Ahmed Sohel Taj.
Talking to The Daily Star, the minister said the government would not allow anyone to do politics with mosques and religion. People won't tolerate it either, he added.
He said they would ensure safety and security of the people and deal with terrorism and crime in an iron hand.
The national mosque witnessed chaotic situation on last two Fridays as devotees supporting and opposing the appointment of khatib engaged in commotion.
Chairman of a faction of Islami Oikya Jote Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini called the new Khatib a "controversial figure" following the skirmishes.
Maulana Salahuddin, former principal of Madrasah-i-A'liah, Dhaka, was the khatib of Gausul Azam Mosque in Mohakhali and was appointed at Baitul Mokarram on January 1.
Bangladesh Awami Olama League yesterday urged all devotees to show deep reverence during prayers at the national mosque.