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    » 02/26/2013, 00.00

    BANGLADESH

    Thousands of people rally against Islamic party and the political use of religion

    Sumon Francis Gomes

    People of different origins and social backgrounds rally together, reading passages from the sacred texts of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami supporters continue their rampage, accusing peaceful demonstrators of blasphemy.

    Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Thousands of people of different age, faith, profession and ethnic background joined in protest against the political use of religion. They recited passages from the sacred texts of the country's great religions-namely the Qur'an (Islam), the Bible (Christianity), Gita (Hinduism) and Tripitaka (Buddhism) -and sang the national anthem to affirm, "Religion is personal, the state is for all".

    The rally took place on 21 February on the initiative of Gonojagoron Mancha, a peace group that has been demonstrating for weeks demanding justice against those responsible for war crimes in the Jamaat-e-Islami, an opposition Islamic party. Protesters also want the party's youth wing barred. However, this has not stopped Jamaat supporters from carrying out acts of violence that left four people dead. They accuse anti-Jamaat protesters of blasphemy.

    "Our protest is not against religion," said Imran Sarker, main organiser of the rally. "On the contrary, our fight is to end the sickening politics of Jamaat-Shibir, which uses religion for political purposes." The latter is Jamaat-e-Islami youth wing.

    For its part, the Islamist party continues its actions, organising strikes (hartal) that end up in vandalism, hooliganism and violence against police and peaceful protesters.

    Jamaat supporters have escalated their violent action after parliament, which is controlled by the Awami League, adopted changes to the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act of 1973.

    Now the authorities can impose the death penalty on anyone convicted of war crimes dating back to 1971. They could also bar Jamaat-e-Islami, which has been blamed for torture, summary executions and rape.

    Four people have died in one of the latest incidents caused by supporters of the Islamist party last Friday. Journalists, intellectuals and police were also attacked on that occasion.

    Gonojagoron Mancha activists have also been regularly targeted in Chittagong, Feni, Chandpur, Rajshahi, Bogra, Sirajganj, Joypurat, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Pabna. In many incidents, Jamaat supporters have burnt Bangladeshi flags.

    On 21 February, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, spoke about the rising tensions in the country. "Bangladesh will be a non-communal social system," she said. The "the rights of all religions to be ensured" and "everyone will live here enjoying equal rights".

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    See also

    01/03/2013 BANGLADESH
    Bangladesh: dozens killed in clashes between Islamists and police
    The violence erupted after the sentencing to death of a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Party), accused of war crimes in 1971. More than 800 injured. Among the victims, three policemen. Explosions in several neighborhoods of the capital, temples and houses burnt the Hindu community in the southeast. The Islamic religious authority in the country calls for calm.

    15/02/2013 BANGLADESH
    Shahbagh, Bangladesh's 'Tahrir Square', against war crimes
    Hundreds of thousands of people in Dhaka want the death penalty for members of the Islamic party involved in massacres, torture and rape during the War of Independence (1971). Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami supporters wreck havoc in the city.

    09/07/2013 BANGLADESH
    Islamist party gains on the coattails of Bangladesh Nationalist Party's victory
    The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party sweeps the latest municipal elections thanks to the support of the Jamaat-e-Islami, whose anti-atheist propaganda against the ruling Awami League proves crucial.

    12/06/2006 BANGLADESH
    Opposition "besieges" Dhaka, more than 500 people hurt
    Opposition parties take to the streets demanding new electoral law and expulsion of Islamic fundamentalists from government, threatening to boycott upcoming elections. Prime Minister orders preventive arrests and deploys 18,000 policemen and paramilitary forces.

    06/03/2013 BANGLADESH
    Muslim anger explodes against Bangladesh's Hindu community
    Violence continues after the death sentence is imposed on the leader of an Islamic party convicted of war crimes. Homes and temples have been destroyed in various parts of the country.



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