A VENDOR sells pictures of Hindu goddess during Durga Puja in old Dhaka..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, the Bangladeshi leadership is up in arms. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed proclaimed: “Trump’s decision regarding Jerusalem is not at all acceptable to anyone in the Muslim world. This will create instability in the world. Because there is an UN resolution on the issue; so steps should be taken as per the UN resolution. No one will accept such violation of the UN resolution. East Jerusalem was supposed to be the capital of Palestine considering the border after the 1967 war and that should prevail. We want that all Muslim countries could be united on this issue.”
Following Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem and move the US embassy to the city, Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, an umbrella group of Islamic movements in Bangladesh, has also announced its opposition. “Jerusalem and al-Aksa Mosque belong to the Muslims,” Mufti Foijullah, joint secretary-general of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, told Arab News. “Trump’s announcement is an insult to the beliefs and spirit of all Muslims.”
Interestingly, neither the Bangladeshi prime minister nor Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh in all their rage took into account the fact that according to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, 52% of Palestinians living in east Jerusalem would prefer to be Israeli citizens with equal rights than to become Palestinian citizens. According to the 2015 poll, only 42% of east Jerusalem Palestinians seek to be citizens in a future Palestinian state.
In other words, by protesting against Trump’s declaration, both Sheikh Hasina and Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh are not taking into account the democratic will of the residents of east Jerusalem.
Not surprisingly, a government that cannot respect the democratic rights of the majority of the people of east Jerusalem also does not recognize the democratic will of the majority of the citizens of their own country.
As the 2014 sham elections in Bangladesh and the subsequent removal of a Hindu supreme court justice for offering a dissenting opinion highlight, the present Bangladeshi government supports imposing dictatorial rule, both domestically and abroad. The Bangladeshi prime minister would rather see Palestinian east Jerusalemites living unwillingly under Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s dictatorship than as citizens with equal rights in the democratic state of Israel. Similarly, she does not respect the democratic wishes of her own subjects.
A government that does not comply with the wishes of the majority of its citizens is likely to persecute minorities even more harshly. Mendi Safadi, the head of the Safadi Center for International Relations and Public Diplomacy, highlighted this recently at a UN minorities conference in Geneva, where he represented the Hindu and Buddhist minorities in Bangladesh.
As we speak, the minorities of Bangladesh are suffering brutal oppression, terrorism, desecration of their holy places, rapes and brutal murders. They are being ethnically cleansed from the country.
“When you live in a country that is supposed to take care of your safety and well-being but because you are a minority, you are deprived of your rights and become a target of Islamic terror, you are deprived of your home, your land, your dignity and in many cases, your life,” Safadi proclaimed in Geneva, “This is the reality of the Hindu minority in Bangladesh.
“Almost every day, there is murder, the theft of land and expulsions. The government gave a green light to the terrorist organizations to purge the country of the minorities. The Bangladeshi government in many cases also actively participates in the ethnic cleansing. The government arrested a political activist who opposes the violations against minorities a year-and-a-half ago. A few months ago, the government arrested an activist who founded the first party representing the minorities, and the other opposition activists.”
Safadi called upon the UN to “help save the Hindu minority from the threat it is living under in Bangladesh.”
Both east Jerusalemites and Bangladeshi Hindus deserve better. They deserve to have their democratic wishes respected. They deserve equality, human rights and a better future. They should not have dictators bossing them around and imposing their tyrannical whims on them. The Bangladeshi government should end its hypocrisy immediately by ceasing the anti-Israel rhetoric. It should start respecting both east Jerusalemites and Bangladeshi citizens, including the minorities.The author is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is the author of
Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.