Bangladesh radical Islamist leader threatens to pull down statues

Junaid Babunagari, the new chief of radical Islamist group Hifazat-e Islam, has threatened to pull down statues no matter which party erects them.

Published : 27 Nov 2020, 06:29 PM
Updated : 27 Nov 2020, 07:06 PM

He made the threat at a religious gathering organised by Al Amin Sangstha on the premises of Parboty Government High School in Chattogram’s Hathazari on Friday night.

Mamunul Haque, joint secretary general of Hifazat, was supposed to join the three-day programme on the closing day, but he could not due to protests for two days by the affiliates of the ruling Awami League over his past remarks against a statue of independence hero Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Dhaka.

“The prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) has said that Bangladesh will be run in line with the Charter of Madinah. If it is true, then nothing can be done against Islam in this country. Inshallah, the prime minister will not let it (setting up statues) happen,” said Babunagari.

“There cannot be any statue in the country if it is run in line with the Charter of Madinah. Is there any statue in Madinah?” he asked.

Babunagari said, “Statues are against Sharia, no matter whose statue it is. I won’t name a party or leader.”   

“But I swear by Allah, if someone erects a statue, even of my father, I will be the first person to pull it down. I will pull down statues no matter which party erects them,” he added.

Addressing Hasina, the daughter of Bangabandhu, the Hifazat chief said, “I love Bangabandhu. We respect your father, Bangabandhu. Who killed him? Madrasa students? Alem Olamas (Islamic scholars)? No. Bangabandhu’s own men killed him.”    

“I am alerting you (Hasina). The atheists who have possessed you will do harm to you, will kill you. We are not your enemies. We want peace and order in the country,” he said.

The Islamist groups protested against the installation of statues on different occasions, saying it is forbidden in Islam.

The government had relocated the Lady Justice statue from the Supreme Court premises bowing down to Hifazat’s demand in May 2017.

Mamunul, who is also acting secretary general of Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish and president of its youth front Bangladesh Jubo Khelafat Majlish, demanded the removal of the statue of the Father of the Nation in Dhaka’s Dholaipar at a party event in the capital on Nov 13.

The Awami League remained silent, and its allies criticised it for not protesting against the remarks of Mamunul.

“This evil force dared object to the erection of Bangabdhu’s statue now because those who demanded removal of the Lady Justice Statue from the Supreme Court were indulged,” the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal or JaSoD said in a statement in protest against the latest demand for removal of Bangabandhu’s statue.

Finally, at an event in Chattogram on Nov 15, Deputy Minister of Education Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury Nowfel threatened those speaking against Bangabandhu’s statue with firm action.

The Awami League’s affiliates then launched the protests on Thursday, vowing to prevent Mamunul from joining the Hathazari gathering.

Babunagari presented a four-point charter of demand at the gathering. The demands are – stopping International Society for Krishna Consciousness or ISCON from operating in Bangladesh, formally declaring Ahmadiyyas non-Muslims, closing down the French embassy in Dhaka and expel the ambassador, and passing a motion in parliament condemning France’s policies on Muslims.

Babunagari went on: “We agree with the prime minister that the country of 90 percent Muslims will be run in line with the Charter of Madinah. It can’t be run in line with charters of Russia, America, India or China.”

He also said a conflict between the believers and non-believers has begun in place of disputes between political parties.

“There is no conflict between the Awami League and the BNP. They stand shoulder to shoulder in Eid congregations. They have relationships. The hard conflict in Bangladesh and the rest of the world now is between the believers and the atheists,” he said. 

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher