A ‘secular platform’ has advised the BNP to distance itself from the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Hifazat-e Islam to continue to exist as a political party.
Speakers at the second council of Nagarik Samaj on Saturday demanded that the government outlaw the Jamaat and its student front, Islami Chhatra Shibir, as war criminals and militant groups.
They urged the people of the country to thwart the forces opposed to the spirit of the Liberation War and communal in outlook.
The platform said it would request the Prime Minister to accelerate the ongoing war crimes trial and ban the ‘religion-driven abuser’ Jamaat that had opposed Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom in 1971
People from various professions — teachers, journalists, writers, human rights activists and many other luminaries — gathered at the Engineers’ Institute to press their demands.
Speakers came down hard on the 13-point charter of demands put forth by the radical Hifazat-e Islam and criticised the opposition BNP for extending its support.
“Hifazat wants to push the country towards darkness,” Prof Anisuzzaman said and demanded legal measures against it.
He said the funding sources of the Jamaat and the Shibir must be identified and sealed.
Khushi Kabir alleged the Jamaat and the Hifazat were practising politics by oppressing women in the name of religion, and demanded steps against them.
Shahbagh Ganajagaran Mancha spokesperson Imran H Sarker also echoed Anisuzzaman’s views. He said much problems would be solved if the Jamaat-Shibir were banned.
Senior journalist Abed Khan wondered how a force that opposed the country’s struggle for freedom was given democratic rights.
Contemporary poet Syed Shamsul Haq said Bangladesh must fight these communal-militant forces like it did in 1971.
“Victory will be ours, for sure,” he said.
Chhayanat President Sanjida Khatun urged everyone to stand together to thwart the communal forces. “A secular Bangladesh will win,” she added.
Prof Sirajul Islam Chowdhury said some demands, which were not even voiced during the Pakistan era, were being put forth now.
He suggested banning the Jamaat politics.
“They (the Jamaat) must be thwarted with the spirit of the Liberation War,” he said and urged everyone to come forward.
Human rights activist Sultana Kamal said the defeated forces of 1971 were trying to destroy communal harmony. “They are spreading violence at a time when the trial of the war criminals is underway.
“It is not the time to sit at home. All the pro-liberation forces must join hands to foil the treacherous plots. The spirit of the Liberation War will win this fight,” she said.
Senior Lawyer Shahdin Malik spoke about the legal aspects of outlawing the Jamaat and the Shibir as political parties.
He also said the Jamaat and the Hifazat were religion-based political platforms and misusing Islam.
Malik advised the BNP to leave the side of the two ‘monsters’, which, according to him, would ‘devour’ the BNP within six months.
Prof M M Akash held both the BNP and the ruling quarter responsible for the flourish of the Jamaat-Shibir.
Ruling coalition member Jatiya Party has supported the Hifazat.
“It’s enough…we won’t tolerate anymore, [but] we cannot go to the Pakistan way. We’ll have to come down on the streets to thwart them (the anti-liberation forces) unitedly.”
Celebrated writer Prof Zafar Iqbal criticised the Hifazat’s 13 demands.
He said the radical group came up with its demands when the country was passing through a period of unrest.
“The country will go 100 years back if even one of their demands are met…and we’ll be pushed to the 13th century if all their 13 demands are met.”
Prof Iqbal flayed the BNP and the Jatiya Party for their support in the Hifazat’s programmes and lauded the young generation’s demonstrations seeking ban on the Jamaat.
He said the Jamaat-Shibir would be outlawed in Bangladesh as Nazis were in Germany and Fascists in Italy.
“We have a young generation who feel the spirit of the Liberation War. No nation in the world has a young generation like this.
“These youths will propel the country forward… All we need is to utilise them properly. Victory will be ours…we have nothing to fear for,” Zafar Iqbal said.
On Mar 16, the platform held its first council in Dhaka demanding death for the convicted war criminals and a ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami.
They say the Jamaat and its student front are once again challenging the very ethos and spirit of the Liberation War, attacking the religious minorities and raising demands to curb women’s rights — all to draw a curtain over the war crimes trials.
The little-known Hifazat-e Islam held a rally in the capital to press for their 13-point charter of demands, which included public mixing of sexes and scrapping the women’s policy.