Bangladesh Interfaith Forum Inaugurated

Leaders of different religious communities in Bangladesh called upon their fellow citizens to reject violence in the name of religion and work to establish peace by upholding harmony. No religion allows violence, they said at the inauguration of the Bangladesh Inter-Religious Forum for Peace and Harmony (BIRFPH) in Dhaka recently. The forum’s coordinator Syed Tayabul Bashar said their main objective was to establish peace and protect those who might fall victim to rumours and religious hatred.
At the programme, Islamic scholar Maulana Farid Uddin Masud said Islam as a religion considers love as its “core value.” “Only love and affection can solve problems, not hatred,” he said. “Not only as a Muslim, but as a human being, I urge all to learn how to respect each other and be affectionate towards others.” A disturbing trend to demean others has emerged all over the world, he said, adding against such a backdrop, launching a forum to work for religious harmony was a timely step. “Goodness and love must prevail if we are to bring change to the society.”
Addressing the event, Bangladesh Prime Minister’s International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi said it was the responsibility of the country’s majority community to protect the minorities. He urged all to work under a common umbrella and address common problems together.
Bishop Paul Sishir Sarker, former moderator of the Church of Bangladesh, said an individual “enlightened by the message of religion” could bring peace, while one who misunderstood religion could cause destruction. He said the message people got from religion was important and stressed the need for conveying messages of inter-religious harmony to people of all ages.
The message of religion is to know one’s self said Jinabodhi Bhikku, former general secretary of Bangladesh Bouddha Bhikku Mahasangha. “There is no alternative to harmony if we are to save Bangladesh,” he added.
Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian OikyaParishad, said a vested quarter was involved in misinterpreting religion and creating divisions among people. The countrymen have to stand against those who want to demean religions, he said, adding that only then the country’s development would be sustainable and meaningful. He demanded that the governing party, as per its election pledge, formulate a law to protect the country’s religious minorities and form a separate commission to this end.

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