DHAKA, Dec 22, 2016 (BSS) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged the people of all faiths to maintain dignity of their respective religions, saying the fake followers of religion create conflicts between religions.
"Those who pretend to practise religion create clashes between religions, but those who believe in religion truly and have confidence and trust in themselves never take unjust measures," she said.
The premier said the religion is undermined if anybody wants to use it terribly. "So, it's the responsibility of everybody to maintain dignity of his or her religion and take it to more dignified position," she said.
The prime minister was addressing a function arranged on the occasion of celebration of Christmas Day and civic reception to Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario at Krishibid Institution Auditorium in the capital this afternoon.
Patrick D'Rozario, the highest ranking priest of the Roman Catholic Church in the country, has been appointed as a cardinal, the first ever to reach such a high position as Bangalee.
Pope Francis on November 19 promoted D'Rozario and 16 other Roman Catholic prelates from around the world to the rank of cardinal.
Religious Affairs Minister Principal Motiur Rahman, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, State Minister for Women and Children Meher Afroz Chumki also spoke.
Arch Bishop Shorod Francis Gomez presided over the function, while Convenor of the Committee to Celebrate X-Mas Day and Civic Reception and President of Bangladesh Christian Association Nirmal Rozario delivered the welcome address.
The premier also said, as a Muslim, she performs her religion as she has confidence and trust in it. "So we always want to maintain such environment so that the people of other faiths could practise their religions peacefully," she added.
The premier said her government always believes that there would be equal rights of all faiths in Bangladesh. "It is our main policy and our constitution that was presented by Bangabandhu also mentioned this policy," she said.
Referring to the teachings of all religions, Sheikh Hasina said every religion speaks of peace and tolerance as well as humanity. "The religion also speaks about providing help to the neglected and hungry and disease-ridden people," she said.
The prime minister said she herself practise religion as she has trust and confidence in it. "So I equally honour other religions," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said there is no room for terrorism, militancy and violence in any religion as all religions give the highest importance to the humanity and it's the biggest matter. "The people of all faiths will perform their respective religions and we believe in that principle," she said, quoting verses of Sura Qafirun.
Quoting a speech of Bangabandhu, the prime minister said the main essence of that speech was religion is a sacred matter and none would be allowed to use it as a political weapon.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is a moderate country and its people are tolerant. "They always honour others and it is a reality," she said. She, however, added that "some problems are created sometimes."
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said after the independence, Bangabandhu had dedicated himself to the socioeconomic development of the country and beautiful environment for peaceful living was created at that time.
"But that atmosphere was ruined by assassinating Bangabandhu in 1975 and ill efforts were made at that time to provoke communalism," she said.
The premier said secularism does not mean 'without religion'. "I know somebody wants to explain it by describing secularism as without religion," she said.
"But we don't believe in 'without religion' as secularism means that the people will practise their respective religions peacefully and with full rights," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is a land of communal harmony with people of all religions enjoying equal rights and performing their own religious rituals independently as the government ensured congenial atmosphere.
"In Bangladesh religion is for individuals, but festivals are for all," she said, adding the people of all faiths fought together during the liberation war and earned country's independence.
She regretted that religious harmony was destroyed after the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975 but her government restored that harmony and the spirit of liberation war in the country.
"The country woke up again with the spirit of the liberation war and it has been marching ahead with self-confidence," she said.
She, however, said some incidents take place in the country. "These incidents are being staged to tarnish the image of Bangladesh," she added.
In this connection, she mentioned killing of imams, priests and monks few months ago.
The prime minister also pointed out the killing of people through arson attacks by the BNP-Jamaat nexus in 2013, 2014 and in the first three months of 2015.
"It is unimaginable that a human being could burn another human being to death only to capture power and that horrific incidents took place by the BNP-Jamaat clique at that time," she said.
Seeking cooperation of the Christian community for further uplift of the country, the prime minister said her government is making strides to develop the county. "We want you to be involved in the development endeavour," she said.
At the outset of her speech, Sheikh Hasina congratulated the Christian community on the occasion of the X-mas Day and said the essence of all religions is the same to help the humanity.
Greeting the first cardinal from Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said the selection is a matter of great pride for the entire nation. "Not only the Christian community, all people of the country irrespective of their religious identity are happy and proud for this," she said.
She said for the first time Pope Francis selected a Bangalee as a cardinal who could vote for electing a Pope and could be a Pope in future.
At the function, the prime minister unwrapped a publication and cut a cake on the occasion of the X-mas Day.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)