Hefajat eyes bigger role

Emboldened by Saturday’s gathering in the capital, Hefajat-e Islam policymakers now look to consolidating their position as the new religious force they claim will be a factor in power politics.

In an instant post assessment of the long march and the rally in the capital’s Motijheel, top leaders of the Islamist organisation claimed that Islamists had united under the banner of Hefajat after a long time.

Policymakers say that apart from expanding their network across the country, they want to strengthen such unity and make the organisation stronger by bringing the remaining Islamic forces under one umbrella.

They will make efforts to convince people about their movement through holding nine rallies in nine district headquarters this month.

“We are overwhelmed with the success. Gradually, we will further strengthen the organisation,” said Junaid Babunagari, secretary general of Hefajat.

Abdul Latif Nejami, adviser of Hefajat’s Dhaka city unit, said, “We will be able to emerge as a major force if we can remain united.”

Nejami, also chief of Islami Oikya Jote, said efforts would be made to fuse this unity, and that Hefajat would not turn into a political organisation.

“We have already emerged publicly as a force,” said Mufti Fayezullah, joint secretary general of Hefajat.
On Hefajat’s potential role in the country’s power politics, its chief, Ahmed Shah Shafi, at Saturday’s rally said: “If you [parties] want to go to or stay in power, you will have to meet our demands. Or else, there will be dire consequences.”

Meanwhile, its othertop leaders say they have “almost completed” the formation of committees in all the 64 districts. The formation of upazila committees is underway while forming union committees would be their next move.

This, they say, will intensify the movement and help realise their 13-point demand, which have already sparked huge controversy and protests.

Their demands include passing a law with provisions for capital punishment for maligning Allah, Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), punishing the “atheist bloggers” of Shahbagh, scrapping the women policy and education policy and banning all foreign culture, including free mingling of men and women.

Eminent citizens and constitutional experts have described these demands as an attack on the charter and spirit of a free society, and said their implementation would push the country backward.

Asked if Hefajat had a plan to contest parliamentary elections in future, Babunagari said the organisation had no such plan as yet.

Referring to some Hefajat leaders who are also in the BNP-led 18-party alliance, he said they would definitely benefit if Hefajat gained in popularity.

“If so, Hefajat will also be a part of [state] power if our leaders, who are with the 18-party alliance, can do well in the polls,” Babunagari said, adding: “We will continue the religious movement and strengthen our activities at mosques, madrasas and Khankahs.”

Zafrullah Khan, a member of Hefajat’s central coordination committee, however, said the group was now the main Islamist force, not Jamaat-e-Islami.

“If Allah takes us to state power, it will be good for us and we will be able to establish Islamic rule in the country,” said Khan, also secretary general of Bangladesh Khelafat Andolon.

He, however, did not explain how the organisation would assume state power.

Asked why they did not go for tougher agitation as they had threatened, Hefajat leaders said they had not done so as they were not prevented from holding the long march and the rally.

Source: The Daily Star

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