Bangladesh Sufis defy attacks to hold mass gathering
DHAKA—Tens of thousands of Sufis descended on the Bangladeshi capital Friday in a defiant show of unity, following a spate of targeted killings of members of the Muslim minority by suspected Islamist militants.
Braving a scorching sun, the followers of a top Sufi leader gathered in the streets near Dhaka´s main commercial district as speakers exhorted tolerance for other Muslims and members of different faiths.
Sufism is an offshoot of mainstream Islam whose followers are often denounced as “infidels” in Bangladesh for their mystical traditions, including worshipping at shrines.
“If anyone does good work and has faith in the God, he´ll be blessed by Him. It does not matter whether he´s a Muslim, Jew or a Christian,” Mohiuddin Khan Faruqi, one of the speakers said.
Many followers had travelled from remote parts of the country to join the gathering, with police saying about 30,000 people took part and organisers putting attendance at a couple of hundred thousand.
Security was tight as police vans patrolled the streets and organisers set up nearly a dozen check-posts to search people who entered the venue. Fourteen Sufis have been murdered since December 2013 in religiously motivated attacks.—Agencies