Bangladesh minister slammed for comments on Janmashtami

The minister's call has been termed "overtly discriminatory" in an editorial on 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 reported on Tuesday.

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 exists." "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 percent.

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