Awami League Presidium Member Abdul Latif Siddiqui is going to lose his ministerial post as an immediate punishment for his audacious comments on Hajj and Tablig Jamat that hurt sentiments of the Muslims all over Bangladesh.
A highly placed government source said the decision has already been taken to relieve Siddique of his ministerial job, and a proclamation to this effect will be issued after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returns home from her eight-day long visit to the US and Britain.
Siddiqui also made derogatory remarks about the Prime Minister's son Sajeeb Wazed Joy drawing flak from his supporters and colleagues in the ruling party.
The Awami League high command also became dissatisfied over the comments.
The partners of the AL-led alliance also resented Latif's remarks, it is learnt. Important persons in the cabinet or senior politicians cannot behave disorderly, they said, adding that Siddiqui's comments will instigate orthodox people and militant organizations.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Abdul Latif Siddique at a programme in New York on Sunday said he adamantly opposes Hajj and Tabligh Jamaat.
"I'm also against Jamaat-e-Islami. But I detest Hajj and Tablighi Jamaat," he said.
He also bashed Sajeeb Wazed Joy. Referring to Joy, he said, "Why do you often mention Joy? Who is this Joy Bhai? Joy is no one of Bangladesh government. He cannot make any decision."
"Hajj costs a substantial amount of manpower. About two million people are now in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. These people have no work, no production. [They are] only causing reduction [in wealth]. [They are] only having meals [inside the country] and spending money [abroad]", the minister added at an exchange of views with the Tangail Association members at a hotel in Jackson Heights in New York.
He said, "If every year on average one lakh people perform Hajj and they each spend Tk 5 lakh, then the total cost stands at Tk 500 crore."
He also tried to narrate the history of Hajj. He said, "Muhammad, son of Abdullah, was worried about the people of Arab as they were robbers. He then made an arrangement that his followers will meet in a place each year and that will pave the way to generate income." Criticising Tabligh Jamaat Latif Siddiqui said, "Tabligh Jamaat each year brings together about 20 lakh people. It has no specific duty. It just clogs up traffics across the country."
AL acting President Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury denounced Latif Siddique's remarks saying, "There are many who speak in an unrestrained manner. The remarks cannot be accepted."
Sajeda also said, "The remarks on Hajj and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's son Sajeeb Wazed Joy made by the party's presidium member Abdul Latif Siddiqui are unacceptable. Do not pay heed to what others are saying because Bangabandhu left what we need. Besides, everyone knows who Joy is."
Some colleagues of Siddiqui told the Daily Observer that he is likely to face music after return of the party chief from abroad.
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has demanded removal of Latif Siddiqui. Islamist organizations demanded his exemplary punishment including removal from the cabinet and cancellation of his parliament membership and arrest for his remarks on hajj and Prophet Mohammad.
Amid widespread condemnation of the derogatory remarks by Siddiqui against holy hajj, two former presidents -- HM Ershad and AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury -- demanded action against the minister.
In their separate messages, they also strongly protested Siddiqui's remark against Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh) and Tablig Jamaat.
Ershad, also the Jatiya Party chairman, demanded Siddiqui's immediate arrest for his remarks that belittled Islam and hurt the religious sentiment of Muslims.
"I've no word to condemn the dangerous and defamatory remark of Latif Siddiqui against holy hajj, one of the basic pillars of Islam. Even the people of other religions did not make such remark against hajj in the past," the former military ruler said.
"Seeking apology won't be enough? he must be brought to justice and given exemplary punishment under the exiting laws," the Jatiya Party chairman said.
In another statement, President of Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury also strangely condemned Siddiqui's unguarded remarks and urged the Prime Minister to take action against her minister.
Ahle Sunnat, an Islamist outfit, gave an ultimatum to the government to fulfill their demands by October 3 or else they would declare tough programmes after Eid.