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.
Or, not so much:
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.
The effort should be applauded and noted. Muslim moderates exist, and it’s about time we see them take to the streets to demonstrate for something other than death to editorial cartoonists. It’s even more impressive to see this kind of demonstration in a country with as much political tension as Bangladesh.
However, the exclusion of women keeps us from taking it too seriously. If moderates truly want to gain control of Islam from the lunatics, they have to free their wives and daughters.