Bangladesh’s besieged Jamaat-e-Islami party fights for its life

Bangladesh’s besieged Jamaat-e-Islami party fights for its life

AFP, 07 Nov. 2014

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s largest religious party faces an existential crisis after a series of body blows, including the sentencing to death of its leaders and abandonment by its main secular ally, say analysts.

While support for Islamists has surged in many Muslim majority countries of late, Jamaat-e-Islami has bucked the trend after failing to banish the taint of siding with Pakistan in Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war. With its spiritual leader having recently died in prison, top officials languishing on death row and a muted response to protest calls, observers say the party itself could be on its last legs.

“Jamaat has no future unless it transforms itself into a new party and finds a new leadership that can effectively mobilise people and shake off its war-time legacy,” Dhaka-based analyst Ata-ur-Rahman told AFP.

“The sooner it comes to realise this, the better for the party,” added Rahman, a former professor at the State University of New York.

Although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have dominated politics since independence, Jamaat has been a kingmaker and served as a junior coalition partner as recently as 2006. However, its growing marginalisation was sealed last year when it was banned from a general election after judges ruled its charter conflicted with the country’s secular constitution.

That ruling further inflamed supporters already fuming over the trials of around a dozen leaders accused of war crimes in the 1971 conflict.

Around 500 people were killed in political violence last year, both in the aftermath of war crimes verdicts and the build-up to January’s election which the BNP boycotted. Although Jamaat’s mobilisations last year were a show of strength, the subsequent violence alienated the public.

The first verdicts last year saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets. But there was a tepid response to calls for protests and a strike issued last week after Jamaat’s assistant secretary general Mohammad Kamar-uz-Zaman’s appeal against his death sentence was rejected.

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Top Bangladesh JI leader ‘may hang next week’

November 07, 2014

DHAKA – Bangladesh may hang a senior leader as early as next week after the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence for war crimes, the law minister said Thursday. Mohammad Kamaruzzaman of the Jamaat-e-Islami party would be the second senior leader to hang for crimes committed during the 1971 war.

Law minister Anisul Huq told AFP he could be hanged as early as next week unless he sought a presidential pardon.

The 62-year-old assistant secretary general of Jamaat – Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party – has seven days to petition the president for clemency, Huq said.

“On the expiry of seven days, if he does not apply for clemency… the sentence passed by the highest court of the country can be executed,” he said.

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Categories: Asia, Bangladesh

1 reply

  1. Jama’at Islami (JI) is spread in three countries, i.e. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. It has much influence in civil and armed forces of Pakistan, and in civilian in other Muslim countries.
    The problem is that these people who claim to be part of a Jama’at Islami, know nothing about Islam.
    They had been active as fanatics in the past and specially, a few years back in Bangladesh too.
    They were the part of those who were attacking poor Ahmadis in the mosques in Bangladesh. They were totally ignorant about the peaceful teachings of Islam.
    I was surprised that neither the JI nor Tableeghy Jama’at (TJ) people came forward to advise the Bangali Muslims to refrain from attacking any one. The TJ also has much following in Bangladesh. They hold annual meetings, gathering there in millions.
    Now I come to some facts about JI. In Pakistan, it is still flourishing as a religious political party because of lacunae of constitution. That is on non-secular lines, that is on the lines taught by Maudoodi sahib. They are still sticking on those principles.
    Same had been the case in Bangladesh, where they are suffering now due to their conflict with secular constitution. They are barred from taking part in general elections.
    In India, there is a secular constitution. There, the JI is working on the lines of secularism, without denouncing the original teachings of Maudoodi sahib. That has created a major mental setback for the party members in India. Had they openly denounced the teachings of Maudoodi sahib then they would have been on the right path. There was no harm to admit the past mistakes.
    It was a great mistake on the part of Maudoodi sahib to teach wrong lessons to poor Muslims about living Isa and about Jihad with weapons and about forming a kingdom of heavens (Hukumat e Ilahiyyah, a Godly government by force), it was all in the wrong direction. And yet he was recognized as an Islamic scholar.
    Maudoodi sahib had written “The prophet s.a.w.s. failed to gain good results even preaching peacefully to opponents for 13 years. But when he took the sword in his hand then all the rust and dust of doubts melted away….” i.e. accusing the prophet s.a.w.s. of Failure! How bad and daring of Mudoodi sahib!

    In other words, Maudoodi sahib taught that Islam was spread by sword. He did not know the basic meaning of Muslim or Kafir or Murtadd. The Bangladeshi Muslims need to be careful about many false teachings that are circulated by pseudo-scholars. It is a lesson for the Pakistanis too. They should apply Islam on themselves only and follow the secular line for the country.

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