Hotchpotch in Bangladesh politics over Islamists-‘atheists’

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It is one of the worst moments in Bangladesh’s history: Hardliner Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islami Bangladesh [not a registered political party] threatens non-stop agitation and reportedly unbelievable demonstration if their April 6 long-march towards capital from Chittagong and elsewhere of the country against the organisers of Shahbagh movement terming its leadership “atheists” is barred [by the government].

Formed in 2010, this group has been engaged in protesting incidents happening in home and abroad that hurt religious sentiment. This aggressive, but yet not militant, organisation has supporters in Qoumi madrasas, mosques, NGOs, and is funded by Jamaat-e-Islami, particularly its Chittagong leader Mir Kashem Ali, a media mogul who is facing trial at the war crimes tribunals, and war crimes suspect and a top UK Muslim leader Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin. The group has also visible link with rowdy Mahmudur Rahman, acting editor of daily Amar Desh that published blasphemous contents allegedly written by an active blogger in his personal blog [the WordPress site was launched the day after he was killed by radical Islamists in Dhaka].

Hefazat and some other radical Islamists, however, blame Shahbagh activists and bloggers atheist for defaming Islam and Prophet Muhammad by posting blasphemous comments on different social media platforms. It does not stand against the newspaper Amar Desh, run by a BNP leader and funded by Jamaat leaders. Throughout the tenure of this government, this newspaper and the Jamaat mouthpiece have been publishing seriously objectionable contents [propaganda] that go far beyond journalism and evidently against the state because of provoking hatred and igniting violence.

Another newspaper, daily Inqilab, published some contents on February 17, two days after the murder of blogger Ahmed Razib Haider, while Amar Desh highlighted it vastly the next day. Three days later, Muslim fanatics took to the streets to protest the atheist-bloggers’ activities just after having their Friday prayers. None of the editors is arrested yet.

Throughout the country, those Musullis, mostly led by Chhatra Shibir, student wing of the Jamaat, and participated by at least 12 Islamist parties and several small groups like Hefazat-e-Islam, launched attacks after gathering at mosques and carried out attacks on the stages, established in support of the Shahbagh outburst that demands DEATH PENALTY for all war criminals and a ban on Jamaat for its role in 1971, vandalised the Language Movement monuments, burnt national flag, chanted slogans demanding Shariah law, and swooped on police [a common act of Jamaat-Shibir for the last couple of months].

This time police acted different than what the force had been doing earlier — a number of police personnel were beaten up mercilessly but the top brass did not allow the force open fire at the Islamist protesters including Jamaat-Shibir, which demands elimination of the tribunal and punishment of the “atheist bloggers”.

Violence continued until February 28 when the tribunal sentenced popular Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee alias Deilya Razakar [a Bangla word means traitor] for his involvement in genocide, murder, rape, loot, arson attacks and Hindu persecution. Jamaat-Shibir unmasked its most violent face in the recent years, launched anti-state attacks — on the administration and the people, especially the Hindus who generally support the spirit of Liberation War and Awami League. And, police used its optimum to tame down the “sudden but organised attacks”. Scores killed that day and the day next, which was Friday.

Since then, the attacks are on; police’s action is also on [expect for the areas where police officers are anti-government]; the attackers have been boosting their strength with support from different political parties and outlawed groups day by day; Shahbagh continues its agitating through regular activities [will march towards the PM Office Thursday morning from Shahbagh intersection demanding a ban on Jamaat].

Meanwhile, arrest of four bloggers [unconfirmed sources say six] and shutdown of a blogsite has engulfed the rage among the Shahbagh youths who are frustrated to see the government not declaring Jamaat outlawed and not punishing the perpetrators of the ongoing violence. These bloggers are among the 84, who are, according to the top Islamist groups, have been engaged in blasphemous activities. And as a sign of autocracy and stupidity, police produced the accused before media like criminals before they were produced before the court. They have been placed on a seven-day remand! What the hell with these law enforcers? Who ordered this? Are they mad?

The government said Wednesday that they prepared a list of 11 bloggers which means seven more bloggers-activists are yet to be arrested within a day or two — apparently to please the Islamists who have been planning something extraordinary for the next few days, may be months; but not years.

Amra Korbo Joy! We shall overcome! There would be no war criminal in this independent Bangladesh unpunished, or we won’t be able to win the war our predecessors fought but couldn’t complete.

Jamaat must apologize first for its role in 1971, must face the trials or leave the country and accept being outlawed as a party which claim, only in books, that it follows Islam and believes in Almighty Allah! According to the gist of Islam, Jamaat must concede now!

The government must work harder to make these happen for a peaceful Bangladesh.



  1. BBC: Will you bring in a new law – new anti-blasphemy law?
    Hasina: This country is a secular democracy, so people of each and every religion have the right to perform their religion freely. But it is not fair to hurt anybody’s religious feeling. We always try to protect everyone’s religious sentiment.

    There are many countries which have blasphemy law. But I don’t think we need it in our country. Already we have different laws and ways to protect religious sentiment or religious rights of the people. So, I think, CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure), Special Powers Act and International Crimes (ICT) law which we have recently adopted are enough.


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