A call by Bangladesh Home Minister Sahara Khatun to the minority
Hindu community to observe Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord
Krishna, "peacefully" and end it by 5 p.m. Wednesday in time for the
end of "roza" has been criticised by the nation's media.
The minister's call has been termed "overtly discriminatory" in an
editorial Tuesday in the New Age newspaper that warned: "Secularist
safeguard may backfire when the issue is addressed from the wrong
angle and with a loaded mindset."
The minister made her "request" at a meeting with leaders of the
National Puja Udjapan Committee Sunday when, while discussing
security measures, she urged the Hindu community not to use
loudspeakers during the period of iftar, the ending of fast by the
Muslim community, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency
The Hindus were planning a religious procession from the ancient
Dhakeshwari temple through some parts of the national capital, the
New Age said.
Its editorial said "a limitation" was being imposed on Hindus for
the first time, when this was not the first instance of Janmashtami
and Ramadan falling in the same month.
"Janmashtami is celebrated annually in this country and in some
years it fell during Ramadan. Then what has gone wrong this time?
Implicitly, as if, it is being assumed and reminded that the two
communities are apt to engage in clashes and are fundamentally
hostile towards each other. An issue is being created when none
"The home minister's request or order, whatever its intent, may be
construed as majoritarian chauvinism," the editorial said, adding
that unless she had received any intelligence reports about possible
trouble, her request was "overtly discriminatory".
Muslims constitute nearly 90 percent of the 156 million people in
Bangladesh, an Islamic republic, where Hindus are less than 10