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‘Gravely Troubled’ by Attacks on Minority Hindus in Bangladesh, Says USCIRF

Appreciating Sheikh Hasina’s response to containing violence, US commission on religious freedom urged her government to launch a crackdown on extremist elements that fan anti-Hindu sentiments.

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Washington: A US commission on religious freedom has said that it is “gravely troubled” over the recent wave of violence against the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh and urged the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to launch a crackdown on extremist elements that fan anti-Hindu sentiments.

Attacks on Hindu temples have intensified in Bangladesh since last Wednesday after an alleged blasphemous post surfaced on social media during the Durga Puja celebrations.

On late Sunday night, a mob damaged 66 houses and set on fire at least 20 homes of Hindus in Bangladesh.

Condemning the attack, US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chair Nadine Maenza said: “the USCIRF is gravely troubled about the recent wave of violence against Hindus that has erupted in Bangladesh”.

 “We applaud Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s response to the heinous crimes by sending paramilitary forces to contain violence. However, we continue to urge the Bangladeshi government to crackdown on extremist elements that fan anti-Hindu sentiments in the country,” she said.

The USCIRF is especially disturbed by the widespread attacks and desecration of Hindu places of worship, said its Commissioner Anurima Bhargava.

“The communal violence has left hundreds injured and a few reportedly killed. USCIRF urges the Bangladeshi government to safeguard the rights and security of Hindus and all religious communities in the country and hold the perpetrators of these gruesome attacks responsible,” she said.

According to an official account in Bangladesh, at least five people were killed in the recent communal clashes in the country. Unconfirmed reports suggest the casualty figures to be as high as seven.

The police said over 450 suspected temple attackers were arrested so far in different parts of the country and a manhunt was underway to track down more since Wednesday.

 On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hasina instructed her home minister to initiate immediate action against those who incited violence using religion as she asked the people not to trust anything on social media without fact-checking.

Hindus make up some 10% of the Muslim-majority Bangladesh's 169 million population.

US App

Asserting that a democratic, stable and prosperous Bangladesh will benefit the entire region, a top US diplomat nominated by President Joe Biden as his envoy to Dhaka has told lawmakers that America appreciates the generosity of the Sheikh Hasina government for hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees.

Peter D Haas, during his confirmation hearing for the US envoy to Bangladesh on Wednesday, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the US has been a reliable friend to and partner with Bangladesh for nearly five decades.

“A democratic, stable and prosperous Bangladesh will benefit the entire region, and if confirmed, I will advance policies that will enhance our relationship with Bangladesh and promote a free, open, interconnected, resilient and secure region,” he said.

The two countries have worked together on economic development, peacekeeping, tackling the climate crisis, public health and finding durable solutions to the Rohingya refugee crisis, He said.

“Our two nations also share a commitment to democratic values. Our people-to-people ties continue to grow and help to deepen our cooperation. If confirmed, I will be a tireless advocate for America’s interests and values and broadening our partnership with Bangladesh,” he said.

“The United States appreciates the generosity of Bangladesh for hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Burma (Myanmar). The United States has supported Bangladesh as the largest international donor in the humanitarian assistance response,” he said.

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