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Bangladesh

The dreadful influence of religious fundamentalism

Too many people are carried away by overarching emotions for misleading preachers

The dreadful influence of religious fundamentalism

More than 100,000 followers defy a ban on public gatherings to attend the funeral of Islamic preacher Maulana Zubayer Ahmad Ansari in his home village in Bangladesh on April 18. (Photo supplied)

“Speak no ill of the dead” is an old saying, so it is inappropriate to ask why Maulana Zubayer Ahmad Ansari, a prominent Islamic preacher and politician in Bangladesh, had to die in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ansari, 56, was a firebrand preacher and leader of Khelafat Majlish, an Islamic political party, who had a large following in his home district of Brahmanbaria and in other parts of the country.

More than 100,000 of his diehard followers defied a ban on public gatherings amid an ongoing nationwide shutdown to attend his funeral in his home village on April 18. It made national and international headlines and triggered fears about speedy community transmission of the coronavirus.

Social media sites were flooded with criticism and memes, and many grabbed the chance to hit out at the people of Brahmanbaria, a district known for religious fundamentalism and whose villagers are infamous for deadly violence over trivial matters such as quarreling about food quality at wedding ceremonies, cutting branches and so on.

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