Arab, Muslim states not agree with Western alert

Dhaka-based diplomats of Arab and Muslim states do not agree with the travel alert that the western countries issued for their nationals visiting or staying in Bangladesh, following the killing of an Italian citizen.

According to them, the security situation in Bangladesh has not dipped so low for such travel alerts nor is cause for foreigners to leave the country or not travel to Bangladesh.

They are, however, anxious over the murder of Italian citizen in the diplomatic zone in the capital.

Cesare Tavella, the Italian national was shot thrice, post-mortem report says. Photo: Collected
Cesare Tavella, the Italian national was shot thrice, post-mortem report says. Photo: Collected

Diplomats expressed these views at a meeting of Dhaka-based diplomats of OIC-member states and of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in Dhaka on Tuesday evening.

In the informal discussion, diplomats of the Muslim states also noted that there was no scope to conclude right now that Italian Citizen Tavella Cesare was killed by international militant organisation Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), also known as IS and ISIS.

They said it would be ‘totally unfair’ if the incident is termed a “terrorist crime” even before the completion of the investigation, though killing in the diplomatic zone itself was a dangerous phenomenon. The security in the diplomatic zone should be beefed up, they stated.

The dean of Arab state diplomats in Dhaka and the Egyptian ambassador, Mahmoud Ezzat was talking to Prothom Alo at his office.

After the killing of Tavella Cesare, the EU High Commissioner in Dhaka in a statement termed the killing a “terrorist crime” while in its travel alert, the UK has said the IS has claimed the responsibility of the killing.

Meanwhile, officials in the foreign ministry told Prothom Alo that several countries including Japan have requested the government to beef up security measures.

Mahmoud Ezzat said they have a plan to sit with the diplomats of OIC member states next week to discuss the situation.

Ezzat said though they talked about security issues during their meeting at the residence of UK High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Gibson, there was no discussion on the “reliable information” that was mentioned in the travel alerts issued by the western countries.

Ezzat said he heard nothing about IS’s operation in Bangladesh. “Till now, the IS is busy with Iraq and Syria.”

Dwelling on security issues in Bangladesh, the Egyptian diplomat said they felt safe even during the last political upheaval in Bangladesh. “However,” he said, “Such a killing took place for the first time in the secured Gulshan diplomatic zone which is dangerous and alarming. So, security measures should be tightened further to avoid recurrence of such an incident.”

At a meeting on Tuesday at the residence of the dean of diplomatic corps and UK High Commissioner in Dhaka, Robert W Gibson, diplomats in Dhaka expressed their worry over security, fearing Western interests in Bangladesh may come under attack.

They would shortly seek information on the situation from the government.

The meeting decided that Robert W Gibson would write on behalf of the diplomats to the foreign ministry in this connection.

Foreign ministry officials told this correspondent that they did not receive any such letter from the diplomats till Wednesday.

Robert Gibson on Tuesday talked to the acting foreign secretary Muhammad Khurshed Alam about issues relating to increase of security measures in diplomatic zones in Dhaka.

-Prothom Alo