New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) The Bangladesh government may consider banning the Jamaat-e-Islami if armed cadres of the Islamist party continue to indulge in violence and terrorist acts, the country’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said here Thursday.
The Jamaat, a constituent of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led 18-party opposition alliance, is a registered political party. Its cadres have been on the streets, indulging in violence, to protest the conviction of some of its leaders by a war crimes tribunal for killings and rapes committed during the 1971 war of liberation.
According to Inu, the Jamaat as a political party has to abide by the Election Commission’s directives. The Bangladesh Election Commission can ban the Jamaat if it violates rules, so can the courts and the government, said Inu during a talk on the “Current Situation in Bangladesh” at Jamia Millia Islamia here.
“The Jamaat is indulging in armed activities,” said Inu.
The Sheikh Hasina government is also watching to see how a case in the Bangladesh High Court challenging the registration of Jamaat as a political party will turn out, said Inu, who heads Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, a constituent of the ruling alliance.
A larger bench of the Bangladesh High Court division Thursday fixed April 16 for hearing the writ petition against registration of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party. The Bangladesh Tarikat Federation had in 2009 filed a petition challenging legality of Jamaat’s registration.
“If the Jamaat practices terrorism, then the government will positively be considering banning the Jamaat,” said Inu, adding that the government wanted inclusive and participatory politics. “Hope Jamaat will take care of its armed hooligans,” Inu added.
He also said that “political Islam is a threat to Islam” and the Hasina government is focusing on the real teachings of Islam “to defeat militant Islam”.
In order to counter the Islamist parties like the Jamaat and the Hefazat-e-Islam, the Bangladesh government is asking “all the scholars and ulemas to come out with the real and practical teachings of Islam”, said Inu.
He said the Shahbag movement, which started earlier this year to demand “justice” for the war crimes committed during 1971, is now attended by people from all walks of life. “It is a youth started movement, but now grandparents come with grand-children and attend and shout slogans for Bengali nationalism.”
The minister said there had been no attack on mullahs or madrassas during the Shahbag protests.
Inu said the editor of a Bangladeshi daily who was arrested Thursday had printed “objectionable” postings of Facebook and Twitter. “Reprinting objectionable material that could incite people is against the law,” said Inu, adding that the editor would get a fair trial.
Mahmudur Rahman, 59, the editor of anti-government Bengali daily Amar Desh, was arrested from the newspaper office on charges that the daily published stories violating the country’s laws. The newspaper has been publishing material questioning the independence of the war crimes tribunal set up by the Hasina government.
Inu said the war crimes tribunal was an “open trial” and the defendants, including Senior Islamist leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi who was sentenced to death by the tribunal, were free to appeal their sentences to the country’s Supreme Court.
The talk was organised by the Academy of International Studies and Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia.