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Bangladeshi community here shocked, saddened by attacks in home country

SINGAPORE — The deadly attack in a Dhaka cafe has shocked members of the Bangladeshi community in Singapore, who expressed dismay that the killings occurred during the holy Ramadan period, and concern that it may cast more negative light on their country.

Bangladeshi workers here gathered yesterday for a prayer session for the victims of the Dhaka attack. Photo: Wee Teck Hian

Bangladeshi workers here gathered yesterday for a prayer session for the victims of the Dhaka attack. Photo: Wee Teck Hian

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SINGAPORE — The deadly attack in a Dhaka cafe has shocked members of the Bangladeshi community in Singapore, who expressed dismay that the killings occurred during the holy Ramadan period, and concern that it may cast more negative light on their country.

Bangladeshis working here said that the news had circulated rapidly among their friends, especially as it was one of the most terrifying attacks back home. More than 20 hostages, six gunmen and two police officers were killed after a 10-hour standoff.

Some whom TODAY spoke to also mentioned the arrests of eight countrymen two months ago in Singapore, for plotting terror attacks in their homeland, which came on the heels of the 27 radicalised workers arrested in January under the Internal Security Act.

“Internationally, (all this news) is destroying our image, when Bangladesh is rising and developing slowly,” Dr A K M Aminullah, general secretary of the Singapore Bangladesh Society, said. “Unfortunately, these incidents will hold us back.”

The society, which has around 1,000 members who are mainly Employment Pass holders, has sent out emails to condemn the recent attack.

It has also been attempting to reach out to different sectors of the Bangladeshi community to keep them connected through social activities, and visiting dormitories to raise awareness of the self-radicalisation issue.

Mr A K M Mohsin, the editor of Banglar Kantha, the only Bengali newspaper here, believes that the events in Singapore are “totally different” from the recent attack in Dhaka.

He pointed to terrorism trends now sweeping up younger and affluent generations in Bangladesh and around the world, and described the recent attack as “shameful” and casting a “very bad impression” of its citizens. Among his concerns is that people might now link the country with terrorism.

Bangladesh-born Shahid Uzzaman, a business director who has lived in Singapore for 20 years and is now a Singaporean citizen, said the Bangladeshi authorities have to “seriously work on anti-terrorism teaching (and) raise awareness among families”.

He pointed out the influence of social media in spreading extremist ideas, especially among some “who are not very sure about the Islamic faith and want to be seen as heroes” through terrorist acts.

The majority of Bangladeshis are Muslims, and several TODAY spoke to also decried the attack for casting a pall over the ongoing fasting period.

Construction worker Rahim Md said his first reaction to the news was to call home to check on the safety of family members and friends. He also noted that Islamic faith promotes peace.

Mr Md Mukul Hossain, 25, also construction worker, said he was saddened by the attack and that Bangladeshis had been awaiting the festivities at the end of Ramadan on Wednesday, but now “some families won’t be able to celebrate (with their loved ones)”.

On Saturday, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack and said there could be no justifications for such heinous actions. It also verified the safety of all registered Singaporeans in Dhaka.

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