Hifazat-e-Islam v the bloggers: a fight for the soul of Bangladesh (photos)
TO Dhaka, Bangladesh, for the Blasphemy Rally. The intolerant jihadis of Hifazat-e-Islam are demanding that the authorities enact an anti-blasphemy law punishing people who insult Islam. They want the alleged blasphemers executed. They also want a ban on “all foreign culture, including free mixing of men and women”. Well, not all foreign culture, just the foreign culture they don’t like. The imported Saudi Arabian stuff is fine.
Against them are the bloggers demanding the death penalty for those guilty to war crimes in the country’s 1971 war of independence. The bloggers also want Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, banned. They accuse it of collaborating with the Pakistani rulers in the war that lead to 100,000 deaths. Two Jamaat leaders have already been convicted of war crimes. Abdul Kader Mullah, leader of Jamaat, has been jailed for life for rape and mass murder. A former leader from Jamaat-e-Islami was sentenced to death in absentia. At least nine other Jamaat leaders will sit in the dock.
Photo: Bangladeshi activists participate in a rally demanding the execution of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, one of the top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, and others convicted of war crimes, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
The war crimes trials are sparking conflict. So far, 96 people have been killed in violence linked to them. In February, anti-Islamist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was murdered outside his home. Four online writers have since then been arrested on charges of hurting Islamic religious sentiments. The Government has blocked many websites.
The Islamists have threatened to unleash anarchy of the “atheist bloggers are not hanged”. The Government seems to be bowing to their pressure.
Photo: Bangladeshi government supporters kick a Jamaat-e-Islami activist on a street during a march by the Islamist party.
Against the Islamists, 25 liberal and secular groups have united to denounce the rally. They have tried to disrupt it by suspending bus and train services into Dhaka. On Monday, the Islamists plan to strike.
Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir has thanked Hifazat-e Islam for holding its rally ‘peacefully’, but denounced the hardline group’s plan for a daylong shutdown.
Nadia Sharmin told bdnews24.com she was attacked:
“Some Hifazat activists came to me and told me that admission of women to the rally is not allowed. They said, ‘You resort to falsehood. You’re the agents of Ganajagaran Mancha.’ At one point of the conversation they assaulted me. I took shelter in a car nearby and then they even tried to vandalise the car…Fifty-sixty activists hurled brickbats and water bottles at me at Bijoynagar. They snatched my mobile phone and handbag having several thousand takas. Then they threw me on the ground and beat me up.”
Financial Express Reporter Arafat Ara says Hifazat men confronted her:
“Several activists stopped my CNG (auto-rickshaw). Then they said ‘You’re not wearing scarf, so you can’t go this way’. I asked why I can’t go just because I am not wearing scarf? It’s my personal business whether I wear scarf or not. Who’re you to talk about this? Then they got locked in argument with me. At one stage I started for my office again ignoring their obstruction.”
A battle for a country’s identity is raging:
Bangladesh Prime Minister Mujibur Rahman salutes during ceremony in Tangail, Bangladesh, Jan. 25, 1972 at which Mujib accepted the surrender of Guerrilla arms from Abdul Kader Siddique, right. Soldier at left is unidentified.
Three Hindu boys wear crucifixes at Jalirpar, East Pakistan, August 5, 1971, where frightened Hindus have besieged Christian missionaries for conversion in the Belief that Pakistani soldiers will not harm them if they wear crucifixes. The Hindus have been targets of military operations that began on March 25 when West Pakistani troops moved in to quell the East Pakistani secessionist movement.
Pakistani citizens with harpoons in their hands demonstrate in Dacca street demanding for independence for East Pakistan, March 23, 1971.
Pakistan President Fazal Elahi Chaudharynn, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, left to right, stand at attention during playing of both countries¬í national anthems after Rahman¬ís arrival in Lahore, Saturday, Feb. 23, 1974. Rahman came to attend the Islamic summit conference. Bhutto on Friday announced that Pakistan recognized Bangladesh. Rahman had led a secessionist movement against Pakistan in 1971 that resulted in the India-Pakistan war.
Bangladeshi police officers escort Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami former chief Ghulam Azam, on wheel chair inside police van, to jail in Dhaka, Bangladesh. According to local news reports, a special tribunal on Sunday, May 13, 2012, indicted Azam on charges of crimes against humanity during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
Children of Khelaghor organizations stage a mock scene of killings of Bangladeshi intellectual people to observe Martyr’s Day, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Bangladesh remembers country’s intellectuals who were killed on this day during the country’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971.
Activists of Islamic political parties denouncing war crimes trials linked to the country’s 1971 independence war, burn and kick an effigy of anti-Islamic bloggers inside an Islamic school during a nationwide strike in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Islamic party alliance has called a nationwide general strike on Sunday, accusing the police of foiling their protests and alleging that the government is planning to ban religion-based political parties. Eight top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, are being tried on charges of mass killings, rapes and arson allegedly committed during Bangladesh’s nine-month war of separation from Pakistan.