Hefazat chief renews threat against atheists
Chief of radical Islamist platform Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh or protector of Islam Ahmed Shah Shafi has again called on the fellow Muslims to get ready for another tough movement against the atheists. He made the statement at a religious program organized by Hefazat at the Mizan Maidan in Feni town on Friday.
“Those who oppose any of the five pillars of Islam are atheists. Get ready [fellows]. You will have to participate when we wage a war against the atheists.”
He also warned the politicians with dire consequences. “We will not spare anyone who tries to do anything with Islam. No conspiracy will be tolerated on the soil of Bangladesh till the last member of Hefazat is alive,” Shafi said.
After 2013, Hefazat waged fierce movement in March this year when the High Court was set to hear a petition filed in 1988 challenging the legality of state religion provision in the constitution. They alleged that the Hindus and secularists were conspiring against Islam. The group later thanked the government and the court for turning down the petition.
Shafi’s call came only two days after religious extremists hacked and shot dead Nazimuddin Samad, a pro-government secular activist, on a Dhaka street, the sixth victim since February last year.
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which is linked to ban militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team, has claimed responsibility for the murder terming Nazim a blasphemer.
Shafi earlier instigated the murder of secularists who criticize radical Islam on several occasions. In December last year, a Dhaka court sentenced radical Islamic preacher Jasim Uddin Rahmani to five years’ imprisonment for instigating the killing of a secularist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, killed on February 15, 2013. The sentence is lenient because the investigators did not press the charges against Rahmani properly.
The government has not prosecuted any other radical Islamists who preach that killing of secularist bloggers is justified. Even the prime minister and the police chief have warned the bloggers not to criticize Islam or Allah or the Prophet.
Hefazat appeared in the scene in February 2013 when youths organized an unprecedented movement demanding death penalty for the 1971 war criminals, most of who are from Jamaat-e-Islami.
Except for the top two, all the leaders of Hefazat are from radical Islamist parties including Islami Oikya Jote which is blamed for the emergence of militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami in 1992. Shafi is the spiritual leader of Fazlul Huq Amini, the founder of IOJ, who was unpopular for issuing fatwa against secularists, education policy and women empowerment.
Terming the movement organizers atheists, Hefazat together with other Islamist parties, Jamaat, BNP and Ershad’s Jatiya Party waged a violent movement in Dhaka and across the country demanding formulation of anti-blasphemy law to try the atheists. At that time, some 10,000 Hefazat supporters vowed to sacrifice their lives to protect Islam.
It is widely believed that Hefazat is backed by Jamaat and Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under the coordination by Mahmudur Rahman, the imprisoned acting editor of Jamaat newspaper the daily Amar Desh.
The government turned down their 13-point demands terming those contrary to the country’s constitution and existing laws.
At least a dozen war trial campaigners, secular activists, writers and publishers have been killed since February 2013 until Wednesday. In a statement published on its website, Ansarullah says the killings are a revenge of the government’s action against the Islamists who took part in the May 5, 2013 rally at Motijheel.
The Awami League government in 2011 reinstated secularism in the constitution but retained state religion and religion-based politics. The military government of Ziaur Rahman dropped secularism and allowed Islamists including Jamaat-e-Islami to resume politics. The state religion provision was introduced by another army strongman HM Ershad, now the prime minister’s special envoy.
Recently the religion-based parties have formally announced to wage an Islamic revolution to establish a Shariah-based country in Bangladesh. Such statements earlier came from the banned and blacklisted militant groups who eye an Islamic Bangladesh with parts of India and Myanmar. AQIS has been formed with the same aim.
It is also alleged that the incumbent controversial government is soft towards the radical Islamists as they have become stronger in the past three years while many top officials of the army’s spy agency DGFI, DB police and RAB are sympathizers of radicals.