Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday strongly condemned the making of anti-Islamic film by a US producer and urged the US government to immediately stop sale and projection of the controversial film.
“No Muslim can tolerate such defamation of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SM),” she said urging the US government for exemplary punishment to the filmmaker for demeaning Prophet (SM).
“We have already taken necessary steps so that the film can not be screened in Bangladesh,” she said while inaugurating the Hajj Programme for the Hajj pilgrims of 2012.
Ministry of Religious Affairs at Hajj camp at Ashkona in Dhaka organised the programme.
This year the first Hajj flights takes off tomorrow carrying 419 pilgrims by a Bangladesh Biman Airlines flight.
Hasina said Awami League always devoted to serving Islam and would not accept any activities which undermine the spirit of Islam.
The party always works for preaching and flourishing Islam, she added.
State Minister for Religious Affairs Advocate Shahjahan Mia presided over the function while Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Faruk Khan, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and Mujibur Rahman spoke, among others, on the occasion.
Secretary of the Ministry of Religious Affairs Qazi Habibul Awal gave the welcome address.
“Before we assumed office in 2009, terrorists resorted to murders, bombings and anarchy across the country as it was their daily affairs at that time in the name of Islam. We have strongly handled the terrorists and rescued the country from the stigma of a terrorist nation,” she said.
But, now Bangladesh is considered as a model of religious harmony all over the world, she added.
Hajj Management better now
Referring to her own experience, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said mismanagement ruled supreme in the Hajj arrangement prior to 2009 when the Hajj pilgrims had to experience immense sufferings because of disturbance of intermediaries and cheats.
After taking office, we have framed National Hajj Policy 2010-2014 to ensure safe Hajj management, she said adding now Hajj programmes have come under a systematic process and facilities of the pilgrims have also increased.
Hasina said over the last three years massive qualitative changes have come in the Hajj management. Saudi government has ranked Bangladesh as the best Hajj manager in South Asia.
The PM said her government has taken a number of steps for better Hajj management. The office of Hajj wing was shifted to Mecca from Jeddah. As a result, it became easy to provide better service to the pilgrims.
Pointing to digitalisation of the Hajj management and information, she said it helped the pilgrims to get Hajj services easily and to be connected with the relatives at home and abroad to know their wellbeing.
A separate plaza was hired at Jeddah Hajj terminal in 2010 at a cost of Taka 40 lakh for easy immigration of the pilgrims, she said.
According to her commitment, the premier said four lifts were installed in the Hajj camp and airlines, customs and immigration areas were brought under central air-conditioning system.
Modern dormitories were hired for the pilgrims in Mecca and Medina on plain lands in nearby areas instead of old houses at a long distance or above the hilltops. And complete transparency has been ensured in hiring the dormitories.
The PM noted that against the backdrop of restoration of discipline and improvement of services, the number of country’s Hajj pilgrims is increasing every year.
In 2009, the number of pilgrims was 58,220. Now the number increased three- folds and this year the number rose to 1,12,570, she said.
Pointing to her government’s steps taken for promotion of Islam, the PM said the Holy Quran has been digitalised in Arabic, Bengali and English. Digital Quran has created immense opportunity for Bengali speaking people at home and abroad to read Quran and understand the meanings of its verses, she said.
Hasina said religious education has been made compulsory at school level. The government has taken steps to involve the religious leaders for development of human resources. Under the plan, Imams are being given training. And, trained Imams and religious leaders are playing an important role in building a peaceful and harmonious society.
She said the Awami League government has reinitiated the mosque-based children and mass education project at a cost of Taka 643.55 crore, creating employment opportunity for thousands of Alem and Ulema and scope for millions of children to learn the Holy Quran rightly.
She said over the last three years, Bangladesh’s Hajj management facilities have been improved in terms of development of infrastructure, recruitment of manpower, inter-ministerial linking and development of relation with Saudi Government on Hajj issue. As improvement of the Hajj management is a constant process, she hoped that the trend of success in this area would continue in the days ahead.
She wished good health of every Hajj pilgrim and their safe return to the country after performing the holy Hajj.
Civil Aviation Minister Faruk Khan said every Hajj pilgrim would be given Saudi SIM card this year so that their relatives from earlier know the mobile number and communicate with them time to time.