Peaceful coexistence an uplifting sight
The US is heartened to see Bangladeshis from different faiths peacefully coexisting, but there are some elements that try to create divisions and conflicts, said US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain yesterday.
"By and large, from my observation, for example, I see Hindus and Muslims are living together peacefully," he said, after holding a meeting with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam at the foreign ministry.
Hussain, the first Muslim-American to ever hold the post, arrived in Bangladesh on Sunday for a four-day trip, visited the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar, met leaders of Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad and interacted with students in Dhaka.
Asked about his statement on violence against Hindu community during Durga Puja celebrations last year, he said he was very concerned about that, but at the same time was encouraged to see a strong statement from the government. Asked who are trying to create divisions, he said that's a question for law enforcers to investigate.
Hussain said the US believes in the religious freedom of all -- Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus. "We want to see religious freedom for all people everywhere in the world. Whether it is Pakistan, Bangladesh, India or the United States. That's our message here."
Separately talking to reporters, Shahriar Alam said the two spoke of working together to improve religious harmony and make sure politicians do not use religion as a tool.
Noting the communal attacks on a Buddhist temple in Ramu and violence in Cumilla, he said social media can destabilise religious harmony.
Besides, he said when friendly countries come up with statements or actions, they need to understand the reality on the ground first in such cases.
On Rohingyas, Hussain said it is important to understand that they suffered a genocide and that it is difficult for them to return to Myanmar before stability returns.
Therefore, he said it is important to ensure that they have liveable conditions in Bangladesh, so that they have some hope and opportunities through education, training and economic participation.
In response, Alam said the government is already providing education and training to the Rohingyas and will do more in the future.
Besides, he protested the latest Israeli attacks on Palestinians during Ramadan. He said such attacks are unacceptable.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh strongly condemned the actions of a far-right extremist group that burned the Quran in several cities of Sweden, said a foreign ministry statement.