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Al-Azhar, IUMS Demand Release of B’desh Scholars and Preachers

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Jamia Al-Azhar of Egypt on 5 March condemned the repression suffered by Muslim demonstrators in Bangladesh protesting the unjust sentencing of scholars and preachers. Islam’s highest authority stressed that the protection of the freedoms and rights of peoples is the duty of governments. In an official statement, Al-Azhar urged Bangladeshi government officials to halt attacks on demonstrators, protect protesters’ human rights, stop the illegal ‘exceptional’ trials and endeavour to achieve justice.

Islam’s highest centre of learning appealed to the Bangladeshi government to meet the demands of the people and release innocent scholars and preachers, adding that the true religion of Islam guaranteed freedoms of all persons, while international laws and norms ensure the right of peaceful demonstration to the people. It further assured that governments’ standing against the will of their citizens would be nothing but an exercise in futility. Al-Azhar called on Muslims to stand by their brothers and sisters in Bangladesh and to provide as much help as necessary.

In a separate statement, the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) urged the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to release political leaders, to immediately stop use of exceptional courts, which do not have the required religious or legal controls necessary to issue such severe decisions in a case dating back to four decades back, while all evidence points to these being mock trials, meant to achieve clear political purposes.

The statement signed by IUMS President Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and IUMS Secretary-General Dr. Ali Al Qaradaghi on 3 March also strongly denounced suppression of peaceful demonstrations demanding the release of innocent leaders, scholars and preachers, for the right of peaceful protest is guaranteed to all peoples. Further it called on the government to provide safety and security for all in order to prevent sedition and strife, and to ward off dangers threatening the country.

The IUMS has appealed to Bangladesh government to direct all efforts and resources towards construction and overall national development, and to address economic problems that threaten the country with collapse, prevailing poverty, unemployment and extremely difficult living conditions, after rampant corruption spread in the government, at the expense of the helpless people.

“The time has come for this government to serve its citizens, to do its duty towards the people – administering justice, safeguarding freedoms, granting the people dignity, and respecting the sanctity of people’s blood and property. This is how security and safety and good faith are achieved,” it said.

The IUMS also appreciated efforts of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Government of Malaysia, as well as other leaders of Arab and Muslim countries, pressuring the current Bangladesh government to the release  the leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and stop their sham trial. It further appreciated the efforts of international lawyers and human rights groups for their objections to the law of the court; and urged them to do more to prevent the Bangladesh Government from implementing these unjust judgments against innocent leaders.

The IUMS further reminded all Muslim rulers of their historical responsibility towards their fellow leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and their colleagues, who are currently languishing in the prisons of the Government of Bangladesh, facing the spectre of death hanging over them.

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