Published by Liberty South Asia on April 16, 2019

Bangladesh Information Minister: “We believe in secularism”

Hasan Mahmud: Tarique Rahman is a Pakistani national
Bangladesh Minister of Information Hasan Mahmud

Dhaka — Bangladesh Information Minister Hasan Mahmud emphasized the government’s commitment to supporting religious freedom on Tuesday. Speaking to an international delegation of journalists, think tanks, and diplomats, the Information Minister reiterated Bangladesh’s “zero tolerance” policy towards terrorism and religious extremism.

“We have zero tolerance for terrorism because we believe that terrorism is one of the biggest threats to humanity today,” said Mahmud. “So we must fight against the terrorists. And terrorism has no territory, and no religion.”

Mr. Mahmud went on to describe the value Bangladesh places on respecting all religions and promoting communal harmony. “Bangladesh is less than 1 percent Christian, but they have a holiday on 25th of December [in Bangladesh]. Look at France: There is 6 percent or 4 percent Muslim, but there is no national holiday for the festival of Muslims. Look at other countries, and there is no recitation of all four major holy books in the government programs.”

“We believe in secularism,” the Information Minister explained. “We believe our first identity is we are Bengali. Then second comes, we are Muslim, we are Hindu, we are Christian, we are Buddhist, or whatever it is.”