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US Commission Warns Against “Islamist Danger” In Bangladesh

ICC Note:

A new report confirms ICC’s fears that Bangladesh is sliding closer into radical Islamism, thus further endangering the country’s small Christian population.

AsiaNews/Agencies (10/18/06) – An independent US panel on religious freedom has expressed concern over growing Islamist militancy and violence against minorities in Bangladesh .

Felice Gaer, chairwoman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal agency, has warned that whilst Bangladesh could be a model for other emerging democracies with majority Muslim populations, “that model is in jeopardy”.

Ms Gaer warns of “growing Islamist militancy and the failure to prosecute those responsible for violent acts carried out against Bangladeshi individuals, organisations and businesses perceived as ‘un-Islamic’.”

In a report released on Tuesday, the commission urged US President George W Bush’s administration to ensure that the caretaker government set to run Bangladesh ahead of January elections was given military and other powers to prevent violence.

The report also called on Dhaka to ensure measures to promote universal human rights, including religious freedom.

The last election in October 2001 was marred by violence and many of the victims were Hindus, Bangladesh ‘s largest religious minority.

For the first time that election was won by an alliance which included religious parties. One of them was the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh , a party that openly advocates the establishment of an Islamic state in Bangladesh with a legal system based on Sharia, or Islamic law.