No women allowed, but never mind: “Each year more and more people are joining the mass prayer. This shows how Bangladeshi Muslims love peace and are opposed to those who propagate militancy.” Terrific, but note that they’re protesting Muslim-on-Muslim violence in Bangladesh. Why not a three-million Muslim gathering denouncing Osama bin Laden and the jihad ideology?
Note also that the Tablighi Jamaat was one of the sponsors.
“Amidst bloodshed, millions of Muslims pray for peace,” from AP, with thanks to Anon:
TONGI, Bangladesh (AP) — Some 3 million Muslims put aside their country’s violent struggle with political corruption and Islamic extremists and raised their hands in prayer for global peace at one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.
The final prayer Sunday capped a three-day Islamic gathering on the sandy banks of the River Turag in a small industrial town just north of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.
Pilgrims, many of whom left work early to join the prayer, streamed into the site stretching 190 acres along both banks of the river. As the crowd overflowed the space, people arrived at the site on packed boats or climbed onto the rooftops of nearby buildings….
The annual gathering shuns politics, which have become increasingly bloody in Bangladesh, and focuses on reviving the tenets of Islam and promoting peace and harmony.
Since Islam since the Hegira has been political, that sentence is somewhat contradictory.
Participants discuss the Quran, Islam’s holy book, pray, and listen to sermons by Islamic scholars from around the world.
About 20,000 security officials, including troops, have been deployed to the area of the gathering to prevent violence, said Biswas, after months of often violent protests to push for electoral reform.
In recent weeks, feuding between two former prime ministers — Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina — has triggered violent street protests, forcing President Iajuddin Ahmed to impose a state of emergency on January 11.
National elections had been scheduled for January 22 but were postponed because of the violence, which has killed 34 people.
On Sunday, 13 more politicians were arrested, the latest incident in the fight over accusations of doctored voter rolls. No new election date has been set.
Both Zia and Hasina attended the event on Sunday, but the two sat far from each other.
Bangladesh has also suffered violence at the hands of a banned Islamic group, the Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, that wants strict Islamic rule in the country, which is governed by secular laws.
The group is blamed for a string of bombings around the country that killed 26 people and wounded dozens of others in 2005.
“Each year more and more people are joining the mass prayer. This shows how Bangladeshi Muslims love peace and are opposed to those who propagate militancy,” said Abul Kalam, an Islamic scholar.
Female Muslims, with the exception of high-ranking officials, were not allowed to attend, but hundreds gathered in nearby villages to take part in the event.
Abdur Rahim, a spokesman for Tablig Jamaat, an organization of Islamic preachers that sponsored the event, added that several thousands of the worshippers were from outside Bangladesh.
The annual World Congregation of Muslims, or “Bishwa Ijtema,” has been held each year since 1966 on the banks of the River Turag in Tongi, just north of the capital, Dhaka.
Volunteers set up tents and troops installed seven temporary bridges. Security officials watched pilgrims heading toward the river from watchtowers and used metal detectors to search for weapons, though the site was not cordoned off.
Pray for peace, but prepare for war.