Published On:17 May 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Bangladesh: Islamists accused of burning Holy Qur'an

Jihadists raged in Dhaka, vandalizing businesses and desecrating sacred books and religious artifacts.

By Kamran R Chowdhury

Dhaka: Reeling from the worst industrial tragedy in its history in which more than 1,100 garment workers died, Bangladesh was dealt another blow May 5th when a group of radical Islamists mounted a violent shut-down of the capital, injecting a fresh wave of instability and economic suffering into a country that can ill afford it.

Tens of thousands of stick-wielding Hefajat-e-Islam activists, chanting Jihadi slogans, stormed into Dhaka's commercial hub Motijheel, aiming to force the government to enact an anti-blasphemy law and end what it calls the "free mixing of men and women" in society.

The relatively unknown group wants to see execution of "atheist bloggers" who organised the secular Shahbagh protest movement against the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, now on trial for their anti-liberation activities in 1971.

Opposed to women's rights, the Hefajat activists are also urging the government to pull out of the UN convention on ending discrimination against women.

The protestors -- mainly students and teachers of unregulated Qawmi Madrasas dotted across the country – marched towards the Motijheel commercial area after the government refused to kowtow to their demands.

The marchers raged the concrete road dividers, uprooted the automatic traffic signals, cut trees down, burned private cars and buses, vandalised ATM booths, and stole air conditioners from banks and other offices.

At least 36 people died, and hundreds more were injured, in some of the fiercest street violence for decades, as police clashed with the hardliners in an effort to flush them from city streets.

Appalled Bangladeshis said they had not witnessed such carnage and mayhem in the heart of Dhaka since the Liberation War. Hefajat-e-Islam denies it incited its members to violence, but few residents of the capital appear convinced.

"Hefajat's activities really remind us the horrendous crimes committed by the Pakistan forces in 1971," Abdul Jabbar, a freedom fighter from Southwestern Barguna district, told Khabar South Asia, after surveying the scene of the 12-hour inferno.

"Their dream of making Bangladesh an Islamic state will never come true. They must face exemplary punishment to stop its unlawful action," he said.

Qur'an burned?

In the midst of the chaos, even the market complex in and around the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque was ravaged. Black smoke obscured glossy shop facades in the bracket-shaped market, packed with showrooms hawking jewellery, air conditioners, home appliances, travel kits and other costly items.

But Bangladeshis were most outraged by the destruction of religious items in the market, where over 600 hawkers sell the Qur'an and religious books, Islamic caps, beads, perfume, and other items used by pious Muslims who come to the national mosque for prayers.

"What Hefajat did was not possible even for the atheists and nonbelievers: they set the Holy Qur'an on fire. Is this Islam? They are the enemies of Islam," Harunur Rashid, the general secretary of Bangladesh Hawkers Association, told Khabar.

"I have seen many [incidents of] political violence around Baitul Mukarram, but nobody even thought of hurting us, as we sold the Qur'an and Islamic items," added hawker Mohammad Delwar.

Muhammad Shafiq Ahad, chairman of the Islamic Studies department at Dhaka University, told Khabar that Hefajat's violence in no way conforms to the teachings of Holy Qur'an and Hadith.

"The Qur'an strictly prohibits violence and damage of any properties; the perpetrators must face punishment in line with the Qur'an," he said.

Moulana Abul Khayer, an imam at a mosque in northern Dinajpur district, told Khabar that the protestors' actions would be grounds for execution under the very blasphemy law they are seeking.

"Islam never condones violence and extremism," he said.

(Courtesy: Khabar South Asia)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on May 17, 2013. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on May 17, 2013. Filed under , , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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