Bangladesh Is­lamists want ‘war’ over Ro­hingya cri­sis

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - WORLD -

DHAKA/YANGON, Myan­mar: Thou­sands of sup­port­ers of Is­lamist groups staged protests after weekly prayers in Bangladesh Fri­day, urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to go to war against Myan­mar over the “geno­cide” of Ro­hingya Mus­lims.

Myan­mar said Fri­day a vis­it­ing U.S. of­fi­cial would not be al­lowed to go to Rakhine state, where a mil­i­tary of­fen­sive has re­sulted in what the United Na­tions has branded a “text­book ex­am­ple of eth­nic cleans­ing.”

Po­lice said at least 15,000 fol­low­ers of five Is­lamist groups, in­clud­ing the hard-line He­fazat-eIs­lam, joined a demon­stra­tion in front of Bangladesh’s largest mosque in cen­tral Dhaka.

Nur Hos­sain Kasemi, a madrassa teacher who heads He­fazat’s Dhaka unit, spoke at the rally, which fol­lowed a pro­ces­sion in front of the mosque. “The Burmese gov­ern­ment is car­ry­ing out a geno­cide. The houses in Rakhine are be­ing torched. We urge the Bangladeshi peo­ple to stand by Ro­hingya peo­ple,” Kasemi told the gath­er­ing.

“We urge the Bangladesh gov­ern­ment to re­solve the prob­lem through war. It is the right time,” he said, ac­cord­ing to lead­ing on­line Ben­gali news por­tal Bangla Tri­bune.

“If no diplo­matic so­lu­tion is found, we have asked the gov­ern­ment to use mil­i­tary power in an ef­fort to en­sure Ro­hingya can live in Arakan [Ben­gali for Rakhine],” He­fazat spokesman Fa­zlul Karim Kasemi later told AFP.

Sim­i­lar protests by Is­lamists have been held in other cities across the Mus­lim ma­jor­ity coun­try.

The pro­test­ers de­cried in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to pro­tect the Mus­lim mi­nor­ity group, po­lice told AFP.

U.S. Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State Pa­trick Mur­phy will voice Wash­ing­ton’s con­cerns about the Ro­hingya and press for greater ac­cess to the con­flict area for hu­man­i­tar­ian work­ers, the State Depart­ment said.

Myan­mar of­fi­cials said he would meet gov­ern­ment lead­ers in the cap­i­tal, Naypy­itaw, and at­tend an ad­dress to the na­tion by Aung San Suu Kyi Tues­day.

He would also visit Sit­twe, the state cap­i­tal, and meet the gov­er­nor of Rakhine, the state gov­ern­ment sec­re­tary, Tin Maung Swe, told

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