Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  
Front Page

Citizens' body asks AL to scrap deal with bigots

A number of eminent citizens of the country yesterday submitted a memorandum to the Awami League (AL) demanding the cancellation of the five-point deal between the AL and the Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish (BKM), saying that it would undermine secularism in the country.

They said the electoral deal will also contribute to the rise of religious militancy.

"We believe that Khelafat Majlish is a radical Islamist militant group which is against the spirit of the Liberation War and has links with the international terrorist network from Afghanistan," read the memorandum of the "Anti-Fundamentalist and Anti-militant Conscious Citizens' Society."

A group of 10 from the citizens' body handed over the letter to the AL President Sheikh Hasina at her residence during a meeting that comprised Kabir Chowdhury, Shahriar Kabir, Ajay Ray, Ferdousi Priyabhashini and Sara Zaker among others.

Talking to the reporters after the meeting, National Professor Kabir Chowdhury said, "the pro-Liberation War citizens can never accept the AL-BKM memorandum of understanding (MoU) as it recognises the use of 'fatwa' and brings religion into politics."

Due to this deal, a person like Shaikhul Hadith (BKM head) now talks about the importance of secular democracy, which is a proud moment for secularism in Bangladesh, noted writer and activist Shahriar Kabir quoting Sheikh Hasina who justified the controversial move of the AL.

"But we do not find this explanation acceptable and we will continue to protest this MoU through whichever method possible, be it our writings, our columns, our seminars and street marches," Shahriar said urging the people to vote for parties without religious fundamentalists or militants.

In the memorandum, the intellectuals observed that the fundamentalists want to transform the country into Mullah Omar's Afghanistan by establishing a law based on the Quran, Sunnah and Shariah.

The AL had been the vanguard of Bangalee nationalism and secularism for the past fifty years, they further noted.

"The five-point MoU between the AL and the Khelafat Majlish betrays the 30 lakh martyrs who sacrificed their lives for this country," the memorandum read adding "By ascending to power through a deal with a section of fundamentalist militants, the AL or the 14-party will never be able create a secular Bangladesh."

The memorandum also observed that the introduction of a new law proclaiming Prophet Mohammad as the final and greatest prophet suggests as if the Muslims in Bangladesh never held this belief. "The implication of this law is that it creates the condition for declaring the Ahmadiyyas non-Muslim. Why would the non-Muslim be forced to believe this? Then Hindus, Christians or Buddhists will also have to renounce their faith."

Other eminent citizens who signed the memorandum are -- Justice KM Sobhan, Khan Sarwar Murshid, Hena Das, Asma Kibria, Syed Shamsul Haque, Rabiul Hossain, Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, Nimchandra Bhoumik, Tasmima Hossain and Shirin Akhtar.