Dhaka, July 7 (BDNews24.com): “Sampriti Bangladesh,’ an organization of leading citizens, has begun its journey to promote secularism and help bridge religious and other divides in the country in memory of the founder of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The inauguration of Sampriti Bangladesh was held at the National Museum on Saturday, and was attended by people of all classes, creeds and walks of life.
The event was the culmination of a long-standing vision to bring together representatives from various religious backgrounds and eminent members of civil society under one banner.
“We want to return to the Liberation War ideal of secularism,” said cultural personality Pijush Bandyopadhyay, who is serving as the organisation’s convener.
“By returning to that ideal, we will be able to build a secular Bangladesh—one where everyone is equal and where no-one faces persecution.”
“We may have to face many setbacks. We must be prepared. We know that most of the people of our country are against communalism and are in favor of equality. Now we must stand united. If you stand with us, we will be victorious.”
There are plans to form committees at the district and upazila levels, and a central committee will direct the organisation’s overall actions, he said.
“We want people to build close connections through their secular ideals,” Bandyopadhyay toldbdnews24.com. “Today we have inaugurated our organisation. We will now organise various programmes, including a rally, until December.”
In his speech via video conference, prominent academic Prof Anisuzzaman said: “Bangladesh is a nation of communal harmony. People of various ethnicities and religions have lived in peace for thousands of years. Our country is on a path to prosperity.”
“There are divisions. There is conflict. Communal harmony has deteriorated. Despite this we must move ahead towards a future where we have harmony.”
Prof Anisuzzaman highlighted the basic principle of secularism as a part of the 1971 independence movement and its place in the 1972 constitution.
The assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led to a period when these ideals diminished, but the people were eventually able to restore communal harmony, he said.
“So I request everyone gathered here today to hold on to those ideals we have from our history, those ideals from 1971, those ideals of our constitution, as we move along the path to progress.”
Former DUCSU President Mahfuza Khanam said: “People of all religions have the same rights. Despite our differences of faith, or perhaps our lack of faith, we will come together and build Bangladesh into a prosperous and civilised nation.
Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury, Prof Emeritus AK Azad Chowdhury, UGC Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan, former Dhaka University Vice Chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddique, Prof Syed Anwar Hossain, writer and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology Prof Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, Liberation War Museum trustee Sarwar Ali, journalist Abed Khan, National Press Club President Shafiqur Rahman and the organisation’s Secretary Mamun Al Mahtab also spoke at the event.
Islamic Foundation Director General Shameem Mohammad Afzal, Buddhist religious leader Suddhananda Mahathero, Ramkrishna Mission General Secretary Swami Guru Sevananda, Christian Association President Nirmal Rosario and ISKCON representative Sukhil Das also delivered speeches.