Sunday, April 13, 2008

Baitul Mukarram showing sign of Lal Masjid of Pakistan

Photo: Three members of Islamist outfits beat up a policeman, two with the snatched shotgun and helmet while the other with a bamboo stick, after the cop fell behind his retreating colleagues who chased the agitators near Baitul Mukarram National Mosque yesterday. Courtesy The Daily STAR


The efforts of law enforcing agencies to seize weapons are commendable; these confiscations will delay the next rounds of attacks, and save many lives. But unfortunately these efforts are not sufficient to mitigate militancy; identifying the sources of weapons of the militants and breaking these networks is imperative to defeat the militants. The sooner the government addresses these issues, the better; delay will only make these issues more difficult to deal with. Let us hope that it is not too late already.
Quoted from Dr. Ali Riaz, Associate Professor of Politics and Government at Illinois State University. His most recent book is: Islamist Militancy in Bangladesh: A Complex Web (London: Routledge, 2008). His other books includes God Willing: The Politics of Islamism in Bangladesh (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004)

THERE is reason for every conscious people to be worried about which direction Bangladesh is moving. In absence of interim government’s inability to handle Islamist bigots creating a situation where people have to take the law into their own hand to challenge the mullah’s plan to turn the country backwards, slid into a state of Taleban.

Jamaat-e-Islami, the lead Islamic radicals are burning not just the cars and motorcycle, but also beating law enforcing officers. The Islamic radicals set the prayer rugs of Baitul Mukarram on fire. Mercilessly beat Muslim devotees who went to the mosque for prayer. It happened not just in Dhaka but also in Chittagong. Followers of Islami Chattra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Isalmi attacked police station and a mosque without any provocation.

Baitul Mukarram mosque seems to reflect what happened at Lal Masjid in Islamabad, Pakistan last year. Baitul Mukarram, a landmark of the Dhaka city is no longer a place for worship. It has turned into place for agitation by radical Muslims. The place was first used by Mullahs in 1974 to agitate against Daud Haider’s poem published in Sangbad. Later it became the centre for Jamaat-e-Islami expressing their Islamic grievances after they became majority of the Baitul Mukarram managing committee. This is a national mosque, and the devotees should claim to return it back.

I will ask civil society, forward looking political organization, women’s right organization, Islamic organization, especially Sector Commanders Forum to declare Baitul Mukarram our national mosque free of bigots. Call for a special national prayer session in Baitul Mukarram and return the mosque to Muslim devotees. Take oath to fight one last time to free this country from religious bigots. These are the same people who killed our brother, sisters, fathers and mother in 1971 in the name of Islam. These are the same people who raped our women and handed them to brutal Pakistani military force.

Progressive political parties have to take a stand on this issue; nation wants to know where they stand. If they fail to take a stand in favour of fifty percent population of the country then they have no right to ask out vote.

Civil Society irrespective of creed, gender, religious belief and political identity have to make demand similar to what Sector Commanders Forum pressed that political party declare that they will not associate with religious bigots and will pass women’s equal right act if they voted to power. I will urge the civil society to boycott any political entities that will not come forward in favour of women’s equal right.

I also request Nobel Laureate Dr. Yunus who’s Nobel peace prize is a direct benefit of our disadvantage women. He would not have won the prize without the efforts given my women in the goal for empowerment. Why is he not speaking up? Unfortunately he also did not take any position on the pressing issue faced by the nation. Specially when political stability of the country was falling apart, because of incompetent president Dr. Iajuddin's anti-constitutional move, it was Dr. Yunus who came out to support him and asked Iajuddin not to listen to anyone and go forward with blue print election.

When half of the population is women who are the Mullahs to deny equal rights to women.

It is the woman who earns the maximum foreign currency of the country giving their sweet and blood working 12 + hour shift in a garments industry, who are these people who wants to stop them from their legitimate equal right?

It is the women, who contributes in agro-economy and it is because of women-farmers our agriculture sector is growing more and more, keeping pace with the population growth. Male farmers only farms. On the other hand the female farmers not just farms but is responsible for preservation of seeds, barns and preparation for sale of food stocks. In addition they take care of well-being of entire family. Then what is the problem with the Mullahs?

Every citizen who has expressed solidarity with Bangladesh and believes in the constitution of the country has to abide by it. Our constitution gives the equal right to all citizens. Bangladesh government who took oath under this constitution have to uphold it and protects it. If they fail to protect the integrity of the country, which was achieved from the sacrifice of millions of martyrs, surely we will protect the nation on their behalf.

Let us walk together out of darkness toward the light. #

Shamim Chowdhury writes for different Bangladeshi listserves and blogs. He lives in Maryland, USA