Bali tourist guide: ‘I had no idea what was going on’
A tourist from India’s Bali state has returned to the state in a bid to visit the Taj Mahal in the capital, Dhaka, but says he was surprised to find himself trapped on a roadblock by anti-Muslim protesters.
Raja Bhat, who travelled to the Taj on Saturday, said he was driving from his home in a village to the temple, where he had planned to spend the night, when he was met by an “anti-Muslim mob”.
“They told me they were going to check my identity and if I had any documents, to get me back to my home village,” Bhat said.
“I asked what they were saying and they told me that we are not allowed to go back to our village.”‘
We don’t care’Since the start of the month, Bali has seen a spate of anti-Islamic incidents, including an attempted murder of a police officer in the city of Gheorghe in central Bangladesh.
“We have been having incidents of people getting arrested for ‘offending Islam’,” Bhat told Al Jazeera.
“But we don’t have any kind of concern for the Taj.
We don’t know what the situation is.
We have no idea how things are going.”
In a recent incident, a Muslim woman in Bali was forced to wear a veil during a prayer service after being stopped for allegedly violating the Islamic practice of ‘veiling’ when she entered the shrine.
On Friday, a group of about 200 people gathered at the Taj to protest the building of a mosque in Balis backyard.
Bhat said he and other Muslim men had already been blocked by a group for more than a week, and that they were “frightened” and worried about the safety of the Taj’s visitors.
“I was just going to pray in the mosque and not being stopped by the mob,” Bhot said.
“They said we are being denied our right to pray because we don�t have a government permit to pray.”
“They are not allowing us to pray.
They want to close the Taj.”
The Taj Mahals popularity has seen an unprecedented influx of tourists and foreign workers over the past two decades.
Since the 1960s, Taj Mahas have been constructed by wealthy Muslim investors, including Indian-Americans, Chinese, Europeans and Indians.
But in recent years, many of the most successful Taj mahal buildings have been converted to hotels and malls and the majority of the hotels are owned by local businessmen.
But Taj Maha’s recent popularity has been undermined by rising religious tension.
In recent months, a number of Hindu temples in Balas backyard have been torched, and in the summer months, anti-India demonstrations have also taken place.