Violence against the religious minorities in Bangladesh is
“seldom, if ever, about religion,” the US Ambassador Dan Mozena has
Instead, he said on Thursday, those were about the pursuit of power
and financial gains of the “cheap politicians and greedy land grabbers” who he
said created and manipulated “friction in the guise of religion to their own
“These cheap politicians and greedy land grabbers are a threat
to the nation”.
Mozena was speaking at an inter-faith dialogue on
religion for peace and tolerance.
He said the owner of the Rana Plaza
that collapsed in April and killed more than 1100 people grabbed the land from a
“(The building) is now known around the world as a symbol
of greed, corruption, and land grabbing from minorities”.
He called upon
all including the government to reject “these cheap politicians and land
grabbers” who he said “seek to use religion to advance their self-serving
agendas to acquire power and wealth”.
Leaders of different religions
including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, representatives of the
Vatican embassy in Dhaka, academicians and students attended the
The Ambassador recalled the destruction of Buddhist temples and
monasteries in Ramu last September and attacks in February on Hindus in
Noakhali, Comilla, Barisal, Satkhira, Gaibandha, Chapainawabganj and other
“Such attacks are not in character with the spirit of
Bangladesh…a spirit of tolerance, moderation, acceptance…a spirit that reflects
the Bangladeshi tradition of living in peace and harmony”.
He said he
knew of no nation like Bangladesh where the President hosts grand receptions to
commemorate the great festivals of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and
Religious diversity was “truly the beauty and magic” of
Bangladesh, he said, where attacks on religious minorities were “most jarring
The American envoy also cited his visits to different
parts of the country with his wife and said their impression was that different
religions lived “side by side in harmony for hundreds of
“Everywhere we go, we see that Bangladeshis of whatever religion
have the same aspirations.
“They want simply to build better lives for
themselves and their families”.
Ambassador Mozena also called upon all
religious leaders “to use your influence, your power of persuasion to foster and
build the peace and harmony that all Bangladeshis seek”.
Speaking at the
dialogue, all religious leaders said there was no clash among religions if
anyone properly followed the ideals.
Charge d’Affaires of Holy See of
Vatican Embassy Massimo Catterin said practising religious increases respect and
peace of human beings.
“The problem is our perception of religions and
the way of interpreting religions”.