(TORONTO, Ontario) -- A Canadian delegation, led by One Free World International founder and human rights leader Majed El Shafie, returned from Bangladesh yesterday. The delegation included two Canadian Members of Parliament (MPs), Brad Butt and Jay Aspin, who served in the capacity of observers.
Arriving in Bangladesh on December 18, the delegation met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and representatives of the BNP, civil society and religious minority leaders. The delegation also met with victims of religious persecution.
El Shafie said they had travelled to Bangladesh in advance of the upcoming January 5 general election in order to stand with its people against religious extremism in any form. He expressed deep concern over the current attacks on religious minorities in Bangladesh and called for separation between religion and politics to ensure people’s rights.
“If you want to be a politician, be a politician. If you want to be a man of religion, be a man of religion,” said El Shafie during a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka, urging political parties not to make the “unholy marriage” between religion and politics. Terming the alliance between opposition BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami an “unholy marriage,” El Shafie warned that it is becoming a danger and threat to Bangladesh’s peace and stability.
“Keep politics for politicians and keep region for the religious people,” said El Shafie, stressing that the delegation was not supporting the government or the opposition. “You can’t use violence as a way of communication.”
El Shafie also said that One Free World International was committed to standing with the people and government of Bangladesh in all genuine efforts to continue down the path of freedom and human rights, rather than down the path of extremism and intolerance.
“If human rights are to prevail, the Bangladeshi people must have the strength of conviction to separate religious identity from democracy and politics, and affirm everyone’s right to full democratic participation and protection under the law.”
El Shafie has a unique voice, having once been arrested, tortured, and sentenced to die in Egypt for defending human rights and fighting for freedom of religion and the rights of minorities. In recent months, El Shafie has been featured on CBC, FOX News Radio, CTV News, CTV W5, The Mike Huckabee Show, Glenn Beck, Sun News Network’s The Arena with Michael Coren and The Source with Ezra Levant, talk radio leader Laura Ingraham and more.
For more information on Majed El Shafie and One Free World International, visit www.onefreeworldinternational.org.