Bangladeshi leaflets ask voters not to elect Hindu candidate

December 15th, 2008 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 15 (IANS) Leaflets asking Muslims not to elect a Hindu candidate have been distributed in a northern constituency of Bangladesh in the run up to the Dec 29 general election, a media report said Monday. Three types of leaflets distributed in Thakurgaon-1 constituency ask people not to vote for Ramesh Chandra Sen, the nominee of the Awami League (AL) because he is a Hindu. Voters have been asked to elect Mirza Fakhrul Islam, nominee of the rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), The Daily Star newspaper reported.

The leaflets - one containing verses from the Quran and their translation, the other a parody of a popular song and another a few short Bangla verses - bear the name of Bangladesh Muslim League presidium member M. Shamsul Haque. He is currently the vice-president of Thakurgaon Sadar BNP committee.

The party Haque belongs to was powerful during the Pakistan era, but has not had mass support in Bangladesh since the 1971 separation.

Election Officer Mohammed Saiful Islam told The Daily Star that the distribution of the leaflets “is not a violation of electoral rules since no Muslim League candidate is participating in the election from this constituency”.

However, Sen said the leaflets had an appeal beyond party lines and were meant to exploit Muslim religious sentiments.

One of the leaflets, titled “Al-Quraner Bani” (teachings of the Quran), quotes different verses and clearly asks Muslims not to cast their vote for a non-Muslim candidate. It also says that Islam does not accept the idea of secularism.

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