Call to free country from religious fanatics
Political leaders, academicians and social justice activist on Tuesday have reached a consensus to form a greater unity of the democratic and pro-liberation forces to establish a secular country, free from religious zealots.
Speakers blamed the previous regimes for their failure to try the religious fanatics responsible for war crimes during the liberation war of 1971. They also lamented that the no sincere effort was taken by the pro-liberation government of Awami League for the trial of war criminals.
They were speaking at a roundtable organised by Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) at Col. Taher auditorium in the city. It was addressed by Awami League general secretary Abdul Jalil, MP, Sheikh Shahidul Islam of Jatiya Party (Monju), Bimal Biswas (Workers Party), Monjurul Ahsan Khan (Communist Party of Bangladesh), Gobinda Chakraborty (Dhaka University), Prof. Mesbah Kamal (Dhaka University) and journalist Saleem Samad. The keynote paper was presented by Hasanul Haque Innu, President of JSD.
The speakers reached a conclusion that there is no alternative to unity of the like-minded democratic parties, civil society and professional bodies, towards reaching a common understanding and joint movement from the same platform to free the country from religious fanaticism and extremism.
However, all the speakers agreed that Jamaat-e-Islami was behind all the terrorism and hooliganism in the remote villages and towns in the name of Islam. They said after getting impunity for repression on the Hindus, they soon attacked the other religious minorities including Christian and Buddhist. Gradually they targeted the intellectuals, writers and journalists. Presently they have also attacked the Ahmadiyyas and Sufi community who are based in shrines of Muslim saints.
The Madrasah students are only taught the elements of mortad, kafir and jihad. Neither Islam or religion is imparted to them, Innu remarked.
He also blamed the military regimes which deliberately patronised the Islamic fanatics in a bid to strengthen and expand their political base in the country. They have committed a social crime, betrayed politics and violated the constitution, he observed.
Dhaka University teacher Gobinda Chakraborty stated that the culture of free thinking has gradually eroded. Teachers in the educational institutions have imposed self-censorship and do not speak frankly in the class, fearing retaliation by the religious fanatics, he said.
Prof. Mesbah Kamal urged Awami League to announce in the forthcoming election manifesto that they would try the war criminals. The like-minded democratic alliance, civil society and other professionals would extend their support to it, he added.
General secretary of Jatiya Party (Monju) Sheikh Shahidul Islam urged all to launch a united movement to ensure that the war criminals are tried, and the Islamic zealots, eliminated.
Workers Party general secretary Bimal Biswas echoed others regarding the war crimes issue. On the other hand, CPB president Monjurul Ahsan Khan stated that 90 per cent of the Muslims of Bangladesh are not fanatic and does not believe in Jihad. People should learn to respect religious freedom, he added.
Abdul Jalil admitted that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh gave amnesty to war criminals, but those who had committed murder, rape and arson were given to harsh punishment. It is sad that the government of General Ziaur Rahman released the criminals from jails and rehabilitated them politically, he said.
He cautioned Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia saying that Jamaat has been allowed to sit on her head, soon they will press their foot against her chest.
Jalil urged the like-minded political leaders to take courageous steps with proven allies for a united platform against Islamic bigots. He warned the leaders that the unity could end in fiasco if allies are unable to sustain the pressure of the Muslim zealots.