SHAFAQNA – Bangladesh has approved a project to build hundreds of mosques with almost US$1 billion (S$1.39 billion) from Saudi Arabia, an official said Wednesday, worrying minorities who fear they could be used to spread Wahhabism.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sought the funds from Saudi Arabia, which will provide the lion’s share of the US$1.07 billion cost, during a visit to the oil-rich state last year, said planning minister Mustofa Kamal.
The centers of worship – equipped with research facilities, libraries and cultural centers – would be a “model” for worshippers in the Muslim-majority country, said Shamim Afzal, head of the state-run Islamic Foundation.
“It is a perfect idea of spreading the true knowledge of Islam,” he said.
But minority groups are less certain, concerned the proliferation of Saudi-backed mosques could spread the ultra-conservative doctrine of Wahhabism practiced in the kingdom.
Rezaul Haq Chandpuri, from a federation representing Sufi Muslims who have been targeted for violence, said there was no justification for these new mosques.
“Saudi finance is a concern. They may use their money to promote Wahhabism through these mosques,” he said, adding minorities would feel “helpless and insecure”.