08/02/2013, 00.00
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Banned by a court, Islamist party cannot run in general elections

by Sumon Corraya
According to the High Court, the registration of the Jamaat-e-Islami with the Election Commission is illegal because the party is "not secular". Party members protest, claiming they are democratic.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - The High Court ruled yesterday afternoon that Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, cannot participate in the next general election, set for the end of this year. It declared that the party's registration with the Election Commission (EC) was illegal because the party did not respect the principles of the constitution, like the separation between state and religion.

In going against Jamaat, the court accepted a joint petition submitted on 27 January 2009 by 25 people, including members of the Bangladesh Tariqat Federation, which challenged the party's legal status, judging its registration a violation of the constitution.

The main point of the petition accepted by the High Court is that Jamaat does not recognise the people as the source of power.

Under the Representation of the People Order (RPO, fundamentalist parties cannot register, and Jamaat is a fundamentalist party. According to the law, a political party cannot discriminate because of religion or gender.

For his part, Jamaat's chief counsel Abdur Razzaq argued that the petition was unacceptable since Jamaat-e-Islami is a democratic political party.

Meanwhile, the tensions are mounting across the country. Most Jamaat leaders are in prison charged with war crimes committed during the war for independence (1971), with many already sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), a domestic court set up to put on trial those responsible for war crimes and other abuses during Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971.

The trials sparked riots and violence by Jamaat supporters in recent months with at least 150 people killed by security forces who apparently opened fire to hold back protesters, Human Rights Watch reported.

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