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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  December, 2006  What a pact …
What a pact with Khelafat-e-Majlish!
The Daily Star
Vol. 5 Num 917Mon. December 25, 2006


What a pact with Khelafat-e-Majlish!
How credible is AL’s denial

We are dumbfounded by the once-anointed secular party the Awami League’s U-turn into an inexplicable marriage of expediency signed up with Khelafat-e-Majlish, the ultra orthodox Islamist group led by Shaikul Hadith Allama Azizul Haq.

Though AL has denied making such a deal, we find the denial somewhat convenient. We feel some sort of undertaking has been given by the AL which is far removed from its founding principles.

In terms of what has been reported as parts of a written contract between AL’s general secretary Abdul Jalil on behalf of his party and Khelafat-e-Majlish secretary general Abdur Rab Yusufi, the AL, on assumption of power, stood committed to grant the right of fatwa (Islamic decree) to ‘certified clerics’, which a High Court verdict in our country had forbidden earlier on. The AL also has virtually acquiesced in enacting an anti-blasphemy law.

The other three features of the accord are: firstly, no law that in any way contradicts the Quran and Sunnah will be enacted in parliament; secondly, recognition will be accorded to Quam-I-Madrasah; and thirdly, those who do not believe in the assertion that the Prophet of Islam is the last messenger of Allah would forfeit their right to be known as Muslim, an oblique reference to the Ahmadiyya community.

On the question of fatwa, a system of law parallel to the existing legal system is being pandered to. This means that certain Ulemas will be placed above the law of the land.

By one fell stroke, the AL has sacrificed at the altar of opportunism and a numbers game in the power struggle against the right of centre Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), whatever principle the party stood for as a historically secular and liberal organisation.

By this action the AL has disappointed a large part of its traditional voters who may well, in disgust, desist from voting for the party. Therefore, we believe the AL should withdraw from the position it has reportedly taken, both out of a principled stand as well as to preserve its traditional vote bank.

To build a forward looking and modern Bangladesh aligning with fringe obscurantist elements cannot be of any help; this realisation must dawn on the AL before the party can come out clean on the issue.

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