Women stopped from using road in Bangladesh town

January 13th, 2009 - 1:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 13 (IANS) For the last month, women in a Bangladesh town have been unable to use a road that has a mosque on it, but also the post office and several homes, thanks to a self-styled Muslim cleric who says their presence is illegal under Islamic law. Retired soldier Abdus Sattar, who calls himself ‘Pir’, has been guarding the road in Chittagong’s Pirojpur town with the help of a stick for the last month.

And the administration is yet to act against Sattar, The Daily Star said Tuesday.

A graffiti on Bara Masjid Road in Mathbaria says “women are forbidden on this road”.
Besides the mosque, the road has the town’s post office and residences. Those going to the hospital also need to use the road.

Women residents and girls going to the local school are taunted and scared off, the newspaper said.

The newspaper correspondent confronted Sattar after he witnessed a woman school teacher seeking to rush her sick child being barred from using the road.

Instead of replying and revealing his identity, the man showed the writings on a wall that read “Movement of women on this road is completely forbidden by order of Pir-e-Kamel Maulana Md Abdus Sattar (retd soldier)”.

The man was Abdus Sattar himself.

An official at the post office, seeking anonymity, said: “Remittance from abroad comes here through money transfer. But as women cannot come here using the road we face difficulty providing them the money. We informed the administration but no action has been taken so far.”

Sattar said: “There is a mosque on this road. Use of this road by women is najayez (illegal in Islam). So I have not only issued orders to women forbidding them from using this road, I also prevent them from using it every day. I will do so as long as I live. The devotees in the mosque will help me in this.”

Mathbaria Central Jame Masjid committee president and Mathbaria Municipality mayor Rafiuddin Ferdous said the matter had been discussed in the mosque committee. The devotees had agreed to take action against the so-called Pir.

Officer-in-charge of Mathbaria police station Motiur Rahman Monday night said he had heard about the matter but was yet to launch a formal enquiry.

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