Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday urged all people to resist misinterpretation of Islam carried out by evil forces and eradicate darkness, illiteracy, violence, and terrorism from society imbued with the essence of the religion.
“Let us all hold peace, the message of Islam in our hearts and eradicate darkness, illiteracy, discord, violence, terrorism and militancy from the society; resist the evil force which are making misinterpretation of Islam.
“We’ve adopted zero tolerance towards militancy to uphold the peaceful glory of holy Islam by keeping the country free from militancy,” she said while virtually addressing the national level Haj and Umrah Management Conference-2022 and opening ceremony of Hajj and Umrah fair, organised by Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre here.
Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had done a lot for Islam in the country and as his successor, her government is working relentless to uphold the spirit of Islam and for welfare of the people.
She said Islam is the best religion in the world, but is sometimes exposed to criticism due to few militants. She also said they have formed committee comprising Islamic scholars in every area so that no child can get involved with militancy and drugs.
The Premier added that Imams are being provided training to engage the religious leaders for the development of human resources.
The objectives of the event include providing the pilgrims with proper Haj-related information, making them aware about current technology-based Haj management, enabling them directly contact with Haj agencies and reducing the influence of middlemen and scamsters.
Two seminars would be held on “Haj and Umrah Management: Achievements and Actions needed” and “e-Haj Management and Route to Makkah Initiatives” in the conference.
Different Haj agencies, financial organisations, and authorities have set up some 150 stalls and pavilions in the three-day Haj and Umrah fair, which remains open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
Bangladesh, among the world, is the 4th largest pilgrim-sending country to Makkah. More than 90 per cent of Bangladeshi Haj pilgrims and 100 percent Umrah pilgrims go to Saudi Arabia under private management.
Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali, Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan, Secretary Kazi Enamul Hassan, Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Issa bin Youssef Al-Dahilan and HAAB President M. Shahadat Hossain Taslim also spoke at the inaugural ceremony.
About the mismanagement by Haj agents, the Prime Minister said if any agency cheats or harasses pilgrims, various administrative measures are taken against that agency.
“Those, who will harass the guests of Allah’s House in the coming days, will have to face severe punishment. It’ll have to be remembered.”
Noting that her government formulated the Haj and Umrah Management Act, 2021 and Haj and Umrah Management Rules, 2022, she said that as a result, complaints of mismanagement, irregularities and misconduct in Hajj management have been remedied.
She asked the Bangladeshi Haj pilgrims to know and abide by all local rules and laws in Saudi Arabia to uphold the appreciation Bangladesh achieved from it in case of Haj management.
Focusing on her government’s success to improve Haj management, she said she had brought many developments during her first regime from 1996 to 2001 but the hajj management got worse again when Awami League was out of power for eight years after 2001.
“But now we’ve been able to bring world-class improvements in the Haj management as we are in power for a long time since 2009 by the grace of Allah,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said e-Haj management is being run in every sector including pre-registration and registration of pilgrims, creation of e-health profile, e-ticketing, transportation of pilgrims, housing management in Makkah and Medina, and healthcare.
She said her government set up a separate Haj office in Jeddah in 2009 and appointed a Counsellor (Haj) and a Consul General (Haj) there.
“Every service including visa, passport, housing, medical facilities, travelling to Saudi Arabia and return from the Haj were made easier for the pilgrims,” she said, adding that her government dedicates three airlines including Biman Bangladesh to Haj pilgrims.
She said now the immigration process of the Haj pilgrims would be completed in Dhaka thanks to her government’s steps and now Bangladeshi pilgrims would not need to spend time for the immigration process in Jeddah.
“I saw such a messy situation with my own eyes. So, when I formed the government, my efforts were to remove the problems of pilgrims,” she said. She said she had taken the measures on her experiences as she found many irregularities in Haj management for Bangladeshi pilgrims since she first performed the Haj in 1985 at the invitation of the Saudi King.