Government Policy

Ambassador Hussain lauds religious freedom, harmony in Bangladesh

US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain on Wednesday appreciated religious harmony and freedom in Bangladesh, saying that those who are trying to divide them and create complexities must be stopped.

“We’re very encouraged to see people from different faith groups are living together peacefully. We want to see religious freedom everywhere in the world,” he said.

Indian-American Hussain made the remarks while talking to reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after his meeting with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam.

Referring to the vast majority of people who are living together peacefully, he said, “We must continue to live together peacefully.”

The state minister briefed Hussain that everyone in Bangladesh enjoys equal rights and they do not call anybody a religious minority rather treat them as equal citizens.

He shared some incidents including attacks on the Buddhist community in Ramu upazila of Cox’s Bazar and attacks carried out on different temples in Cumilla and cited how social media can sometimes play a negative role as fake Facebook IDs are used to instigate.

“We’ve discussed these issues very frankly,” said Shahriar, adding that it is a challenging issue globally.

The two sides also discussed the Rohingya issue focusing on the accountability front.

The Gambia, backed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), opened the case against Myanmar at the ICJ in November 2019 for failing to prevent the genocide against Rohingyas.

Hussain, who also visited Rohingya camps, highlighted “unimaginable” sufferings of the Rohingyas had gone through in Rakhine State and talked about creating more opportunities for them through education, training and economic activities.

The US envoy arrived here on Sunday on a four-day visit and held a series of meetings with Bangladesh officials on relevant issues.

Hussain serves as principal advisor to the Secretary and advisor to the President on religious freedom conditions and policy, according to the US Department of State.

He leads the Department’s efforts to monitor religious freedom abuses, persecution, and discrimination worldwide.

He also oversees policies and programs to address these concerns and works to build diverse and dynamic partnerships with the broadest range of civil society, with equitable and meaningful inclusion of faith actors globally.

During his first day, Hussain engaged with students and faculty members of the Department of World Religions and Culture, University of Dhaka.

During the session, the ambassador emphasized the important role young people play in advancing religious freedom and human rights in Bangladesh and around the world.

At Dhaka University, the ambassador also visited the banyan tree Senator Edward M. Kennedy planted at the university in 1972.

At the end of the day, the ambassador participated in an iftar with 19 Bangladeshi US government Exchange Alumni held at the EMK Center.

Ambassador Hussain recognized the extraordinary contributions of alumni in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Bangladesh through innovative community-led initiatives and grassroots campaigns.

Source: United News of Bangladesh