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Bangladesh to build hundreds of mosques with Saudi cash

Bangladesh to build hundreds of mosques with Saudi cash

DHAKA: Bangladesh has approved a project to build hundreds of mosques with almost $1 billion from Saudi Arabia, an official said on Wednesday, worrying minorities who fear they could be used to spread fundamentalist Islam.

The government plans to construct 560 mosques — one in every town in Bangladesh — as the secular administration woos Islamist groups before elections.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sought the funds from Saudi Arabia, which will provide the lion’s share of the $1.07 billion cost, during a visit to the oil-rich state last year, said planning minister Mustofa Kamal. The centres of worship — equipped with research facilities, libraries and cultural centres — would be a “model” for worshippers in the Muslim-majority country, said Shamim Afzal, head of the state-run Islamic Foundation.

But minority groups are less certain, concerned the proliferation of Saudi-backed mosques could spread the ultra-conservative Sunni doctrine of Wahhabism practised in the Gulf kingdom.




Rezaul Haq Chandpuri, from a federation representing Sufi Muslims who have been targeted for violence, said there was no justification for these new mosques.

“Saudi finance is a concern. They may use their money to promote Wahabism through these mosques,” he said, adding minorities would feel “helpless and insecure”.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2017

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