Islami Chatra Shibir issues death threats against secularists
Does fascism too lie in beholder’s eye?
‘(Richard) Boucher also considered Jamaat-e-Islami as a democratic party and didn’t find any evidence of Jamaat being involved in bombing or connected to bombing.’
-The Bangladesh Observer report (05 August 2006)
‘Beauty lies in beholder’s eye.’ What about fascism? Does it, as well? I have been pondering over this question, especially after Mr. Richard Boucher—US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs—has certified Jamaat-e-Islami, a fanatic Islamic political party of Bangladesh as a ‘democratic party’ during his recent trip to Dhaka. It may be recalled, prior to Mr. Boucher, Harry K. Thomas—the former US ambassador to Bangladesh—also gave similar testimony about Jamaat. Although many secularists and liberals of Bangladesh origin were perplexed to hear such certification of Jamaat coming from US officials, some nevertheless were not surprised and instead commented- expecting US paving a way to a democratic and secular Bangladesh is merely a day dream. America doesn’t, and need not care if a democratic and secular Bangladesh is established. So long as the ruling party in Bangladesh favors America’s imperialist and profit-only based foreign policies, US would continue being on their side. So what, even if that party happens to be as fascist as Jamaat! This is not any new invention, but a re-discovery of a bitter truth in the new light.
Islami Chatra Shibir, a student wing of Jamaat, has lately issued death threats to Hasan Azizul Haque*1, a revered litterateur and professor of Philosophy at Rajshahi University, and Prof. Zafar Iqbal*2 (also a popular writer) of Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST), Sylhet in Bangladesh. In their threats (in mail & over phone) to the former, Shibir went as far as saying- his body would be chopped into pieces which they will throw into the water of the Bay of Bengal. The allegations against them? According to Jamaat-Shibir gang—which more often than not behaves like a sole custodian of Islam and its core values—both Dr. Zafor Iqbal and Prof. Hasan Azizul are nastik-murtad (filthy atheists!) who believe in democracy, science & secularism. Obviously, this kind of allegation—a nasty political weapon of fascist Jamaat to suppress secular intellectuals from exposing their evil ideology—by stirring up Muslim commoners’ sentiments is nothing new in Jamaat’s history. In the past, Jamaat gang had made successful use of this political tool to incite assaults, persecutions and violence against such dedicated secularist as (late) Prof. Ahmed Shariff, (late) Prof. Humayun Azad, author Taslima Nasrin, and poet Shamsur Rahman (recently passed away). We didn’t and cannot forget how Jamayat-Shibit (known as “Islami Chatra Songho” in ‘71) gang using same pretext killed some of the brightest secular minds of Bangladesh in 1971. History would also testify-how Maolana Moududi--Jamaat’s founder & guru--caused deaths of several thousands of minority Quadiyanis in the West Pakistan during Ayub Khan’s rule. The Pakistan Judiciary held Moududi responsible for the bloody riot and issued death sentence against Moududi in their verdict but Moududi was granted a pardon after then Saudi King Foysol sided with Moududi and personally called up military junta Ayub Khan. That’s Jamaat-e-Islam. Such a cowardly and hypocritical political party which didn’t make its voice vocal against recent US-supported Israeli invasion of Lebanon, massacre of hundreds of innocent Muslim men, women and children. Indeed, those raising voices against such barbaric act in Bangladesh were NOT so called Islamic Jamaat, but country’s progressive and secular forces! Why did Jamaat keep quite? One may wonder. I’d answer: Jamaat cannot afford to provoke US by any means, even if whole of Lebanese Muslims men-women were to be killed.
The question is, how long more shall (read ‘should’) we allow Jamaat go unchallenged with their fascist, intolerant and uncivilized acts? Shall we continue to think-everything will be OK or/and West will help us implement democracy, secularism and tolerance in our land? Isn’t it time, a country-wide awakening of common people’s sense against intolerant and fascist Jamaat gang is so much needed? And I don’t think, it’s too much to expect. Despite all odds, let’s not forget, still an agitation and protest involving the mass such as those in shonir akhra, kansat have taken place in Bangladesh. Also it was encouraging to see- how unity of common students on the campus at Jagannat University drove away activists of Shibir.
We need to realize that the presence of dedicated and honest secular intellectuals like Hasan Azizul Haque and Zafor Iqbal (especially into consideration latter’s tremendous popularity among youths) makes it hard for Jamaat-Shibir gang to brain wash country’s new generations in the name of Islam. Thus secular intellectuals one after another are becoming targets of Jamaat-Shibir gang. It’s not US or any other country that would pave the way to a secular Bangladesh. It’s, rather, home grown secularists like Zafor Iqbal, Hasan Azizul Haque and likes who are and would be needed to materialize such dreams. We cannot afford to lose them any more. They are already endangered in today’s Bangladesh.
Yes, united we can! Let’s get united to show- the morale of Bangladeshi people can no longer be dictated by Jamaat-e-Islami & its evil ideology.
Jahed Ahmed is the co-moderator of www.mukto-mona.com, an online network of humanists/secularists from South Asian and other countries.