Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Bangladesh: concern at growing radicalism

15th June 2005

But crackdown on militants is encouraging, says Charles Tannock MEP

Conservative foreign affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, Charles Tannock MEP, today expressed his concern at growing religious intolerance in Bangladesh, but commended the government for cracking down on militants.

Dr Tannock, an MEP for the London region, was speaking at the European Human Rights Conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, which is taking place today.

He said the increasingly radical Islamisation of the country was a worrying development. Dr Tannock pointed out that until recently, Bangladesh had a good tradition of tolerance of religious minorities, but that had been undermined by changing the constitution from a secular government to 'sovereignty under Allah'.

Dr Tannock said:

"I'm very disturbed at the apparent breakdown of religious tolerance in Bangladesh and the many attacks on religious minorities that have been reported.

"But there are some signs that the government is moving to rein in organised militant groups responsible for some of the violence.

"The authorities must be true to their promise to bring those responsible for political and religious violence to justice. At the same time, the government needs to ensure full respect for human rights. Journalists, in particular, are in danger, and I urge the government to promote an environment in which a free press can operate safely and without fear.

"The European Union should give Bangladesh, a Commonwealth country with a large number of people of Bangladeshi descent successfully settled in Britain and other parts of the EU, as much political and financial support as possible. The European Parliament is determined to help the government in its fight against corrpution and Islamic fundamentalism. My fellow MEPs and I are determined to keep up the pressure on Balgladesh and insist on full respect for human rights."