Dhaka: Over 100,000 Islamic scholars in Bangladesh have issued a fatwa, declaring militancy and terrorism in the name of Islam as "haram" while voicing their concern over a wave of brutal slayings of Hindus and secular writers by Islamists in the Muslim-majority country.
Maulana Farid Uddin Masud, the chairman of Islamic scholars' organisation Bangladesh Jamiyatul Ulama, pronounced the fatwa or a ruling on a point of Islamic law at a press conference in Dhaka.
Maulana Masud, the imam of Bangladesh's Sholakia Eidgah, the largest Eid prayer congregation, said "some" of the militants and terrorists were "wrong" to identify themselves as "jihadists".
"Islam is the religion of peace...Islam doesn't support terrorism," Maulana Masud said yesterday.
Referring to the Quran and Hadith, he said the suicide attackers will be cast in hell.
"Even taking part in funeral prayers of terrorists, militants, covert killers is haram. And those killed for their stance against militancy will be martyrs," he added.
According to Maulana Masud, 101,524 muftis, alims and ulamas have signed the fatwa.
The fatwa was issued amidst a spate of killings of writers, bloggers, online activists, and people of different religious and social views by suspected Islamic radicals.
The fatwa titled "the edict of peace for wellbeing of humanity" denounces the clandestine attacks on minorities and secular activists.
"Even if the fatwas fail to stop terrorism completely, it will definitely help in curbing violence," Maulana Masud said. Claiming that a section of criminals were spreading panic in several parts of the country with misinterpretation of the Quran and Hadith, Masoud said law enforcers will not be able to prevent them if the criminals' misperception is not eradicated.
The process to launch the fatwa began in January after the attacks on liberal and secular activists and religious minorities including Hindus and Christians by suspected Islamists sparked an international uproar, Masoud said.
Bangladesh is under mounting international pressure to halt the violence, which in the past three years has claimed the lives nearly 50 people -- Hindus, Christians and secular bloggers -- many of them by machete-wielding attackers.
Though most of the attacks were claimed by the Islamic State or its affiliates and other similar extremist groups, the Bangladesh government has repeatedly dismissed the claims and said the attacks were carried out by homegrown outfits linked to the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Over 11,000 criminal suspects have been arrested last week as part of an intensified crackdown against extremists in the country.