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What is behind the explosion in violent Islamism in Bangladesh? – Diplomat


Circuit | Protect | South Asia

Domestic political success, history and ideology make for a poisonous mix in Bangladesh as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Razia Rahman, wife of Faisal Arefin Deepan, collapsed after hearing a court ruling on her husband’s murder in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, February 10, 2021. A special court in the Bangladeshi capital on Wednesday sentenced to death eight Muslim militants forced into a group banned for the 2015 murder of Deepan, a book publisher on secularism and atheism.

Source: AP Photo / Mahmud Hossain Opu

Bangladesh, which has seen an increase in Islamism over the past six months, has experienced seizures in recent violence. Hefazat-e-Islam activists continued rampage Targeting government buildings, trains, Hindu temples and the media. More than a dozen people were killed and many more injured in the riots and clashes with police.

The immediate cause of the violence was India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka; His government’s treatment of Muslims in India has angered many Bangladeshi people. However, the roots of violence lie in Bangladesh and last several decades.

The country was born from a struggle between secular and religious forces and while independence in 1971 marked the success of secular nationalism, religious forces were never beaten. lose. Indeed, Bangladesh’s leading Muslim organization Jamaat-e-Islami – which was banned shortly after independence for its cooperation with Pakistan and played a role in the massacre of thousands of secular Bangladeshis – revived. born in late 1975.

In the decades since then, the Islamic forces have gained strength, thanks to the patronage they receive from the civilian and military regimes.

If in previous decades the Jamaat were the leading Muslim party in Bangladesh, it was the Hefazat, a group comprised of ulema (Islamic scholars) has dominated the Muslim space in a hard line since 2013.

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Hefazat was established in 2010 against the Awami Alliance (AL) Government measures to restore Bangladesh’s secularity. In 2013, when secular and atheist Bangladeshis gathered to demand the execution of Jamaat leaders convicted for war crimes during the Liberation War in 1971, Hefazat protested. It enacted a 13-point charter with requirements including the death penalty for blasphemers, compulsory Islamic education, and a ban on sexual intercourse between men and women and continued this by enacting motivated thousands of madrassa students for a Dhaka “siege”.

The street power and violence that Hefazat demonstrated in 2013 shook the AL rulership. As a secular party that has led Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, the AL has been the target of religious orthodoxy for decades.

The whole group saw in Hefazat a useful Muslim ally that could allow it not only against its main rival, Bangladesh National Party (BNP), affiliated with Jamaat, but also expanded its own support among the Muslim masses. It began courting the leaders of Hefazat and making some of their requests. Hefazat responded by reducing its aggression.

However, it does continues to assert his Islamic agenda fierce in the past six months. In October 2020, activists from the country took to the streets to protest French President Emmanuel Macron’s defending caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed and demanding that Bangladesh sever ties with France. A few weeks later, its new leader, Junaid Babunagari, denounced the erection of the statues because they were “against Sharia”. Activists dismantled the statue of Bangladesh’s founding father and first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, shortly after.

There are two reasons for the increase in Hefazat’s violent activity and the increase in recent months. One was that after the death of founder-leader Ahmad Shafi, a more radical group in Hefazat took control and the organization’s leadership board was dominated by its leaders. close to the BNP-Jamaat alliance. Babunagari and the new Secretary-General of Hefazat Maulana Nur Hossain Kasemi are known to “have close to BNP in the past.”

Besides, Bangladesh is celebrating 50 years of independence and secularism triumph in the War of Liberation in 1971 is an important theme in marking government events. These seem to have prompted Islamists to act against the AL government and secular Bangladeshis. Activists Jamaat and Shibir are said to be collaborate in the activities of Hefazat.

After years of gentle treatment against Hefazat, the government began to suppress the organization. Sedative fee was filed against Babunagari and other leaders after defrauding Rahman’s statue and now some of them may face trial over allegations kill Shafi. Cases filed against Hefazat activists for violence in 2013 and subsequently, have been brought to fire, as part of the AL government’s appeal to Muslims, also has been reopened.

The arrest of hundreds of Muslim chiefs and foot soldiers in recent months has been a setback for their operations. But it may evoke sympathy with them for the Muslim masses. It may also promote the emergence of Islamic organizations.

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