Bangladesh urged to fulfil Islamist demands
By: Ferdous Ahmad Bhuiya
The fulfillment of thirteen demands set by an Islamist group, including the enactment of new anti-blasphemy laws, is the key end to the current turmoil in Bangladesh, analysts believe.
“The 13-point demand of Hefajat is absolutely right for Bangladesh as a Muslim state,” Dr. Imam Hossain told OnIslam.net.
“The government should discuss with them on how to materialize their 13-point demand.”
A group named Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh (HIB) has set 13 demands for the government to fulfill to help solve turmoil in the Asian Muslim country.
The group wants the government to reinstate absolute trust in Allah in the constitution and enact new anti-blasphemy laws.
It also calls for punishing anti-Islam bloggers, stopping attacks on scholars and madrassah students and freeing them.
The group also calls for lifting restrictions on mosques, declaring Ahmadiyya as non-Muslims and making Islamic education mandatory.
A rally organized by the HIB earlier this month to pressure the government to fulfill the demands has turned deadly after security forces attacked protesters.
The exact number of deaths during the May 5-6 protest remains unclear, with figures ranging from the official government figure of 11 deaths to thousands by the organizers.
Independent news sources put the figure at approximately 50 dead, with others succumbing to injuries later.
“Armed crackdown on Hefajat by the government is absolutely a wrong step,” Dr Hossain said.
“The government has to account for this murderous wrong doing of historic magnitude.”
Professor Ataur Rahman, a senior teacher of political science at Dhaka University, agrees.
“The crackdown by the law enforcement agencies on Hefajat’s peaceful rally in Dhaka is not righteous. That kind of crackdown is not acceptable in any democratic country,” he told OnIslam.net.
He urged the government to form a committee to cooperate with the HIB on implementing the demands.
Ordinary citizens also opine that the fulfillment of the HIB’s demands would help prevent insults against Muslims and their religion.
“If anybody causes dishonor to the Prime Minister’s picture then he will be punished but why not punish anybody who insults our Prophet Muhammad,” Muhammad Mamtajuddin, a businessman, told OnIslam.net.
He reiterated support for the group’s demands for new anti-blasphemy laws to prevent insults against the Islamic religion.
“So their 13-point demand is appropriate as a Muslim state.”
Bangladesh has been in turmoil over the trial of Islamist leaders on alleged war crimes during the 1971 independence war.
Tension further escalated over postings by bloggers seen as defaming Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
The turbulence also followed constitutional amendments that eliminated the state principles of absolute trust and faith in Allah the Almighty.
More than 100 people have been killed in the clashes this year in clashes between Islamists and security forces.
“The 13-point demand of Hefazat-e-Islam is the basic and fundamental rights of the followers of Islam,” Sheikh Abu Taleb, a staff reporter of a Dhaka-based online newspaper who witnessed the police breakup of the rally, told OnIslam.net.
He said the HIB supporters have gathered in Dhaka to press for the fulfillment of their demands.
“Paranoid with the thought of losing power, the government took the decision to evacuate the area by force,” he said.
Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest Muslim majority nation with a population of some 148 million.