After the ISIS attack on a Shia mosque in Bangladesh in late November, community leaders in Bengal have pressed the alarm bell and are planning to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee soon over security concerns. Shia leaders told HT on Thursday that its mosques and processions are vulnerable to attacks from terror organisations such ISIS and Al Qaeda that are their traditional enemies.
There are about one lakh Shias in Bengal and they have six mosques in Kolkata in Metiabruz, Cossipore and about 500 in the state. On November 27, gunmen stormed an Imam Khomeini Shia mosque and opened fire on praying worshipers, killing the 70-year Moazzem Hossain (who called devotees to prayer) and wounding three others in Haripur village of Bogra district in northwestern Bangladesh. Later, ISIS claimed responsibility of the attack.
Over the past few days the community in Bengal has formed teams of volunteers to man mosques in Kolkata and districts during congregations and intercept unknown faces.
“There is definitely a threat following ISIS attacks on the Shia mosque in Bangladesh. There is a sense of insecurity within the community, but we are not scared to become martyrs. We are the prime target for such terror groups as the ISIS and Al Qaeda and we fear that ISIS attacks on our country’s doorstep may spell doom for us,” said Maulana Athar Abbas Rizvi, a Shia community leader, cleric and head of Cossipore mosque. However, he added that Shias in Bengal and India are safer than they are in Pakistan and that in Bengal they live happily with the Sunnis.