Published: Monday, April 8, 2013

13 demands for real disaster

React jurists, rights activists at Hefajat's conditions

Women’s empowerment will not only be severely hindered but Bangladesh will also go backward if the demands of Hefajat-e-Islam are met, observed jurists and women’s rights activists yesterday.
The Hefajat demands also go against the country’s constitution, which was formulated through upholding the spirit of the Liberation War, they said, urging political leaders to stop appeasing such reactionary groups.
Dr Kamal Hossain, chief of the constitution drafting committee set up in early 1972, said the constitution, which was formulated on the basis of national unity and the spirit of the Liberation War, still exists in the country and whatever needs to be considered has to be made in line with the ethos of the constitution.
“Anyone may demand anything, but we have to consider the context of the formulation of the constitution. We have to take a strong stance on the fundamental aspects of the constitution and preserve them,” said the eminent jurist.
Noted jurist Dr Shahdeen Malik said the 13 demands were clearly a recipe for turning the country backward.
“There will be an end to Bangladesh as we know it today if these demands are met,” he said, adding that religious organisations and political parties all seem to be coming out, probably out of a lack of understanding of social forces and social dynamics, to destroy this country.
“My apprehension is that we’ve probably reached the point of no return,” he said.
Former adviser to a caretaker government Rasheda K Choudhury said from micro-finance at the field level to export promotion, women are the driving force behind Bangladesh’s economy. Even the success stories outside the country are all about the participation of women.
“Don’t we consider these aspects? Do we want to retreat from this position?” she questioned, adding, “The political leadership will decide whether we want to go backward. We cannot afford to go backward.”
Rasheda Choudhury, who is executive director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), said on the one hand, some political parties were expressing solidarity with the reactionary groups, while on the other, another one was talking about considering their demands.
“Where are the people in between? If women’s rights are not recognised, then where is democracy?” she asked.
“We want clarification of the stances of two women leaders of the two major parties with regard to whatever the reactionary groups are taking about,” she added.
Women’s rights activist Shirin Akhter said the demands would definitely push back society.
“Women have brought recognition for Bangladesh throughout the world and to bring up demands like restricting women’s mobility will not bring any good to the country.” So, she said, there was no scope to even consider the demands.
Journalist and war crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir said there was no scope to consider any of the demands as those went against Islam and the country’s constitution and were contradictory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“If the demands [of Hefajat-e-Islam] are met, Bangladesh will be pushed towards being an Afghanistan where there will be no values and spirit of our Liberation War,” he said.
“We never support anything that defames Islam or Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and if anyone does that, they can be tried under the existing laws.
“There is no necessity of formulating a new law,” he added.

  • Fakir Rafez

    It’s not a secret it’s open now and we all have a copy of these 13 point demand.

  • S M Iftekhar Ahmed

    I’ve always felt that Hefazat had elements of Jamaat-Shibir in them and we all know Jamaat does not adhere to the true tenants of Islam. Do they not know that in Islam, women are highly regarded and respected?Also, they are arrogant in thinking that only they are the true Muslims while all Shahbagh protestors are atheists. Hefazat to me are just a new phase but the spirit of Shahbagh continues to spread. So, despite their sabre rattling, I feel that Hefazat are fighting a losing cause.