Queens Bangladeshi community held a protest meeting Saturday afternoon calling for peace and an end to violence, but they were not talking about the American military campaign against Afghanistan.
Instead the 50 to 60 people who came to the protest meeting at a Buddhist temple in Elmhurst Saturday told tales of the violence taking place against minorities in their native Bangladesh and urged the U.S. government to help stop the abuse. Representatives of the Eastern Queens Democratic Club also attended the event.
Protesters blamed the ruling government, the Bangladesh National Party, for joining in the violence against Hindus, Buddhists and Christians in that country and outlined crimes such as rape and murder taking place in villages across that South Asian nation.
Bisram Rajkumar, a Queens Village resident active in the boroughs Bangladeshi community, was one of the speakers.
Referring to the American military campaign against Afghanistan called Enduring Freedom, Rajkumar said we must defend freedom against all forms of terrorism. Today we assemble here to show our solidarity and concern for the actions of terrorists in Bangladesh.
Those who organized the meeting said the violence in Bangladesh could be a prelude to a Taliban-style government in which minorities are persecuted and no alternative views are tolerated.
Morshed Alam, a Fresh Meadows resident and former political candidate, said he had been beaten by a fundamentalist group in 1993.
We have to send the message to the right place, Alam said of the need for Bangladeshi-Americans to voice their concerns in Washington, D.C. Even America at some point theyre supporting this government.
Alam, the head of the newly established New Americans Committee of the Queens County Democratic Party, drew the line between the majority of Muslims and the terrorists who praised the Sept. 11 attacks in the name of that religion.
Im proud to say Im a Muslim, but Im not a fundamentalist, he said. Fundamentalists are not a part of Muslim.
Sitangshu Guha, one of those who organized the protest meeting, said in Bangladesh there is silent ethnic cleansing. In Afghanistan and Iran, its open ethnic cleansing. America is leading the anti-terrorism fight and we are with America.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2001 Community News Group
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