Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hefajat calls shutdown for Monday

Warns of Dhaka blockade on May 5

This photograph shows part of Motijheel where thousands of people thronged to join a Hefajat-e Islam rally Saturday. Photo: Firoz Ahmed

This photograph shows part of Motijheel where thousands of people thronged to join a Hefajat-e Islam rally Saturday. Photo: Firoz Ahmed

Islamist organisation Hefajat-e Islam has called a daylong shutdown for Monday protesting “obstructions” to people who tried to come to Dhaka to join a Hefajat rally at Motijheel Saturday.

The organisation, while announcing fresh agitation programmes, threatened the government of blockading Dhaka on May 5 if its six-point demand including stern action against what they called atheist bloggers is not met by April 30.

The leaders also branded prominent writer Muntassir Mamoon, Sammilito Sangskritik Jote President Nasiruddin Yusuf Bachchu and Gonojagoron Mancha spokesperson Imran H Sarker as “atheists” and demanded their immediate arrest.

The city dwellers, like the government policymakers, had a sigh of relief as the so-called Islamist organisation refrained from floating a call for non-stop hartal (shutdown) as it threatened earlier.

“By creating obstructions to our long march programme, detaining our leaders and activists and filing cases, it (government) has proved that it is not an Islamic government,” Azizul Haque Islamabadi, Hefajat organising secretary, said while announcing the shutdown at the fag end of the rally that began at 11:00am.

The programmes were announced on behalf of Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi, the ameer of Hefajat, who led the six-hour-long rally. Maulana Anasmadani, publicity secretary and son of Shafi, read out the speech.

Hefajat leaders of various ranks delivered speeches whole day long, warning of different agitation programmes that could cripple the country unless the government gives in to their threats.

The government did not take adequate steps to ensure highest punishment for the “atheist bloggers who defamed Allah”, Anasmadani said.

“Instead, under the direction of the government, a Supreme Judicial Council was formed to harass a High Court judge who attempted to extend his help in this regard,” he added.

The government instigated the bloggers against Islam, Anasmadani said.

“They have shown audacity by submitting a memorandum to the House Speaker on banning Islam-based politics.”

The government formulated anti-Islam women and education policy, according to the speech.

Maulana Shafi warned through his speech that the government must meet Hefajat demands it wants to stay and return to power in future.

He strongly criticised the government for terming blogger Rajib, a Shahbagh activist who was killed near his house in Pallabi in the capital on February 15, a martyr. The parliament also paid respect to him, Shafi added.

The government has taken a clear stance against millions of Muslims of the country, he alleged.

“Today’s human sea proves that there is no place for atheists in this country. Only the believers have the right to control this country,” he said.

He warned of a tougher movement if Hefajat’s demands are not met.

“The fate of this anti-Islamic government will be like Pharaoh, Nomrud, Saddam, Haman, Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab,” he said.

“There is still time to save yourselves and the lives of the people of the country from Allah’s wrath by fulfilling our demands.”

Addressing the youths who joined the rally, he said, “You youths, you are the main source of Islam’s strength. You, like today, have to be ready in future to come out to the battle fields and sacrifice your lives to destroy the atheists and their movement”

The leaders addressed thousands of activists and supporters of Hefajat from a dais set up near the Shapla Chattar.

Dhaka’s business hub Motijheel turned into a human sea as thousands of people poured into the area to join the rally.

The first session of the rally started through recitation from the Quran and continued more than three hours.

The second session of the rally began just after the Johr prayers around 2:45pm, reported our correspondent covering the event.

Noor Hossain Kashemi, Dhaka city ameer and joint convenor of Hefajat, and Junaid Babunagari, secretary general of the organisation, is present at the makeshift podium.

Hefajat has received permission for the rally to voice their demands including punishment of some bloggers for “defaming” Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The Shapla Chattar gathering spilled onto adjoining areas including Jatiya Press Club Ittefaq intersection, Arambagh, Dainik Bangla intersection and Fakirerpool areas.

Prior to start of the rally, the mid-level leaders of the group delivered their speeches demanding punishment to the ‘atheist bloggers’.

They also chanted slogans like “Jihad chai, jihad chai, jihad kore morte chai” (we want to revolt, want to die revolting).

Hefajat leaders withdrew a slogan demeaning Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina minutes after some activists chanted it loudly.

Despite attempts to thwart the Hefajat’s programme, hundreds of its supporters who assembled at Motijheel.

Tension has been brewing over the standoff between Hefajat and the pro-hartal organisation and Shahbagh supporters opposing the Hefajat programme.

Since morning, people kept marching towards their rally venue from different parts of the capital, defying blockades and hartal amid a tense situation, reported our correspondent covering the event.

Activists of the 23 pro-liberation organisations who enforced the 24-hour hartal since 6:00pm took position at 20 points in the city to resist the Hefajat activists from joining their rally.

  • Feline.grace

    Free biriyani from BNP and drinks from Ershad, this aggregation is full of hypocrites and dumb heads.

  • Sabina G

    A group that calls some people to be hang just because they wrote something about Islam and u say they are not radical ? They are close brothers of Al Qaeda !!

  • Anas

    I think that was Jamaat.

  • Faisal

    Hefazat Islam should make their protests peacefully. We have seen in the past that it is possible. BNP and AL should also learn, since there are those who know one or two things more than BNP and AL.

  • Anas

    Radical secularists vs Radical Islamist… Better to side with neither.

    • Anon Khan

      Agree with u on this one. Extremism of any kind is not good.

  • Anas

    Also it is a bit sad that we don’t call for justice but we aspire for capital punishment directly.

    • Enamul Haque

      Hefajat calls shutdown for Monday

      Enamul Haque 1 minute ago

      Hi Anas,
      If Syedee, Kader Molla, Golam Azam and co. are not given capital punishment, come the next government they will be scott free. There is an expression in Bengali or Bangla “leze para na porle hush hoi na.” How would you feel if your sister were raped, your father killed because he was an intellectual, you children killed because they were of the Mukti Bahini (you personally may not have been affected but you can’t be a history denier either)….Jahanara Imam lost both of her sons to these razakars. They killed many intellectuals including Zahir Raihan, Shahidullah Kaiser to name a few. You are talking about justice and to get rid of corruption. You and I both studied together with sons of corrupt officials. We both have corrupt people as part of our family members. So aspiring for absolute justice is one thing, implementation is another. You mentioned that that it would be wise to sit on the fence and join neither. Apathy is far more dangerous than anything else. If you are so critical of “Militant” secularism pray do tell us what the solution is according to you. Should we wear bangles and offer our behinds to bearded goats or should we join the rational beings that have not killed, maimed, raped or abused anyone?

  • Seeker

    They are extreme example of Radicalism. Their 13 point is apparently a guideline to convert the country toward Afganistan/Taliban.Do they think what they are talking about before they ask for demanding punishment of few prominent person ?

  • trybestone

    Is there democracy in Bangladesh now ? Opposition leaders are send to jail for flimsy reason, opposition are not allowed to rally or protest. This present government is in no way a democratic government. A thief like Abul is called patriot. From this one can guess what democracy is this government.

  • Anisur Rahman

    Any violence by these Hefajat people should be considered as anti-state activity and must be stamped out ruthlessly by the government. Also they cannot be allowed to occupy commercial zone of the city indefinitely; law and order must prevail.

  • Tonmoy Ahmed

    One big Question …If they follow HOLY QURAN in their day to day life ,there is no way to have faith or believe in DEMOCRACY.So why they are asking for those stupid demands from the DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT ? If this government changes and BNP comes into power will they accept their demands ? More or less we are now going to face the question —–Are we going to be the TALABANI NATION?

  • Tonmoy Ahmed

    One big Question …If they follow HOLY QURAN in their day to day life ,there is no way to have faith or believe in DEMOCRACY.So why they are asking for those stupid demands from the DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT ? If this government changes and BNP comes into power will they accept their demands ? More or less we are now going to face the question —–Are we going to be the TALABANI NATION?

  • Enamul Haque

    Jahangir do you mean to say Golam Azam or Syedee are angels? you call them muslim scholars do you now? May the Almighty bless you with knowledge my misguided brother.

    • Jahangir choudhury

      Humans are not considered angels enam. If the “culprits” of independence have anything to answer for then they should be tried in a legitimate court recognised by all. After all what has the government to lose? Not a kangaroo court. Let me tell you them named scholars have done more for Islam than you me or anybody you or I know. Lets be clear any true Muslim recognises this. Listen let’s not get onto the misguided business, otherwise the debate will take another angle.

  • Samih34

    Are you trying to imply Bangladesh is a safe country? The media reports are quite to the contrary! Let’s first clean our own backyard before taking on others.

  • sohel

    it has been proved that “think tanks” and “medias” were not fooling anyone but themselves. You people can not run anymore from the truth. please come out from your half baked truths!

  • Sabina G

    Scholars ? Golam Azam and Co. are scholars ? Oh yeah, that’s why they showed their scholastic aptitude during the liberation war, right ? They showed that do bad things and then say we did it to protect Islam. I supposed that’s what was their specialty .

    you need to first define what scholar means :)

  • sohel

    I am wondering why still the government has been standing on wrong side of the fence! they must discard association of anti Islam people without wasting any more valuable time. the grassroots worker and leaders of ruling party also being alienated from commoners.

  • Anas

    Khwaja Nazimuddin has nothing to do with our lineage… And it is better to point fingers after you have seen the whole view of something. I never said that I do or don’t want war criminals hanged… What I said was that we are not asking or shouting for justice but we are giving the verdict ourselves. I do want all criminals to be tried and brought to justice be it anyone.

  • Hiron

    It is sad that some people look for opportunities to attack religion especially Islam which has been on the limelight due to media campaign and western political agenda.

    It is sad but true that women in Bangladesh suffer a lot but not because of any religion but our culture and mentality. “According to police records, while there were 2,981 cases of dowry-related violence in 2004, the figure hit 4,563 in the first nine months of 2012. Also, where there were 2,901 rape cases recorded in 2004, the figure for the the year 2012, up to August, stands at 2,868.”

    Every country, every religion has people committing grave crime but only Muslims are recognised with religion but not others. In a poll of 370 gender specialists around the world that voted India the worst place to be a woman. Experts were resolute in
    their choice. “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels,
    married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes
    and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,”

    Crime happens everywhere and it is unacceptable but blaming any religion is not the solution. This also risks losing support from a very high number of people who are just as important to fight this injustice.

  • Masud

    In Saudi Arabia you cannot mix politics with religion. There are cctv cameras in all big mosques. The only politics in Saudi is praise of the King and Royal family. Dont blame Saudi for your fundamnetalism.