Shah Ahmed Shafi, the principal of Hathazari Madrasa in Chittagong and also chief of extremist Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam, has claimed that peace can be established in Bangladesh if the laws of the Quran and the Hadiths are followed.

“There will be no crimes like mugging, robbery and criminal activities if the country is run in line with the Quran and the Hadiths. In that situation, everyone will offer prayers together five times a day. It will establish peace in the country.

“Otherwise, the culture of injustice and crimes will prevail. If you follow the Islamic laws, one day the people of Bangladesh will be able to build Golden Bengal [a dream envisaged by father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman].

“Each and everyone in the country want peace. A country cannot be bad. It earns disgrace because of the citizens.”

Shafi said that some people are trying to defame Islam by attacking it in different ways. The nonbelievers and some fake Muslims are carrying out such campaigns taking advantage of the division among us.

“There is no room for lies, injustice and criminal activities. Islam is a religion of justice and peace,” he claimed while addressing his supporters at a program arranged to inaugurate a multi-storey commercial building named Marvelous Tower at Golapganj in Sylhet on Saturday.

His deputy and Hefazat Secretary General Junaid Babunagari and Golapganj Municipality Mayor Sirajul Jabbar Chowdhury also spoke among others. Golapganj police OC AKMM Fazlul Huq Shibli and local Press Club President Shahidur Rahman Suhed were also present. Ranaping Madrasatul Banat Islamia chief Maulana Jilal Uddin presided over the brief meeting.

Earlier, billionaire Shafi and Babunagari reached Golapganj from Chittagong on a helicopter. Hefazat supporters chanted “Naraye Takbir, Allahu Akbar” at that time to greet their leader.

In his speech, Babunagari said: “People of Bangladesh love Islam. Islam will be in effect on the Earth and also in the afterlife. But the Jewish want to eliminate Islam from the Earth. Our job will be to spread the message of Islam.”

The latest call of Shafi echoes the view of most of the Islamist parties and militant groups who have long been working to establish Shariah Law in the country, in contrary with the country’s constitution.

Since 2013, two international militant groups Islamic State and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) have claimed responsibility for the murder and attack of over 30 secularist writers, publishers, teachers, non-Sunni preachers and Hindu-Christian priests. They also want to establish a Shariah State in Bangladesh.

However, the experience of Shariah state in Saudi Arabia or Iran clearly shows that criminal activities cannot be stopped through the Quranic laws.

Hefazat chief Shafi, now a close friend of the incumbent government, and his supporters are known as hardcore Islamists professing murder of atheists. They have been demanding a blasphemy law in the country among 12 other demands since 2013 to try the atheist writers and cartoonists who are critical of the radicals and militants.

After his open call to annihilate the atheists in 2013, over a dozen bloggers have been hacked to death by his supporters in different Islamist parties and militant groups. Two students of his Hathazari Madrasa were caught red handed while fleeing after killing secularist Oyasiqur Rahman Babu at Tejgaon last year.

Even though Hefazat claims itself a non-political organization, all but the two top leaders are from the BNP-Jamaat-led 20-party alliance. Awami League government’s ally Jatiya Party of military dictator HM Ershad, who in 1988 introduced state religion, also supports Hefazat’s 13-point demands.

A faction of Islami Oikyo Jote, earlier led by Shafi’s follower Fazlul Huq Amini, is a key partner of Hefazat. IOJ is blamed for patronizing banned militant group Harkatul Jihad Al-Islami (HUJI) while another banned group Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was formed with Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir members.

The incumbent government has not prosecuted any radical Islamist who publicly preach that killing of secularists and atheists is justified. Even the prime minister and the police chief have warned the bloggers not to criticize Islam or Allah or the Prophet, sending a clear message that criticizing radical Islam is also prohibited in the country.

It should be mentioned that the constitution of Bangladesh allows religion-based politics and recognizes Islam as the state religion. Surprisingly, secularism is one of the four principles of the constitution.