US urged to designate Hifazat-e Islam of Bangladesh as terrorist organisation

Several organisations of Bangladeshi freedom fighters living in the US have urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Hifazat-e Islam as a terrorist organisation.   

New York
Published : 8 April 2021, 09:36 PM
Updated : 8 April 2021, 09:36 PM

They sent copies of the memorandum to the Department of Homeland Security and the foreign affairs committees of the Congress on Wednesday in the wake a series of violence over years, said Nuran Nabi, president of USA Bangabandhu Parishad.  

The other organisations that signed the memorandum are USA Committee for Secular and Democratic Bangladesh; Forum for Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971, New York; Bangabandhu Foundation, USA Chapter; Sector Commanders Forum, USA Chapter; and Bangladesh Liberation War Veterans, USA. 

“The Islamic outfit claims itself to be a non-political Islamic Advocacy group. But its ideology and activities are reminiscent of those of the Taliban and ISIL,” the memorandum said.

It continued:

“A review of its charter 13-point demand and its history of violence against women, minorities, and cultural and historical sites would show that Hefazat has been emulating the Taliban's success while exploiting the fractious political environment to turn Bangladesh into a monolithic Islamic theology.”

“To illustrate few violent activities of Hefazat-e-Islam, let us start with the most recent spate of violence on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's Independence. On March 26, 2021, Hefazat-e-Islam went on a country-wide rampage during its protest against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit.”

“Hefazat activists burnt and destroyed many historical sites and public and private properties, including the Ustad Allaundin Khan Music School at Shibpur, Brahmanbaria, built on Ustad's ancestral home.”

“Only a few days ago, on March 17, 2021, hundreds of supporters of Mamunul Haque, the Joint Secretary of Hefazat-e-Islam, attacked, burnt, and destroyed about 70-80 Hindus houses in Shalla Upazila of Sunamganj district in the Sylhet division. The Hefazatis perpetrated the violence on the pretext that one Hindu youth from that village earlier had posted derogatory remarks in social media about Mamunul Haque.”

“On November 13, 2020, in a public gathering, Mamunul Haque demanded that the proposed installation of the statue of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, be stopped as the statue being against the value of Islam. He threatened that any installed statue would be dug out and thrown into the river.”

“Following his threat, the Hefazat activities started defacing the historical statues and monuments across the country. One such defaced statue was Bagha Jatin's, an Indian freedom activist who had fought against the British occupation of the Indian Subcontinent and later died.”

“Hefazat’s hatred against cultural and historical artifacts is very similar to those of the Taliban and ISIL. For instance, same as the Taliban, which destroyed 1600 years old Buddhas of Bamiyan, and the ISIL, which destroyed 2100 years old Temple of Bel in Palmyra and other thousands of years of other archeological sites, Hefazat-e-Islam has constantly been threatening to demolish public displays of statues.”

“They were successful in forcing the Bangladesh government to remove the statue of the ‘Lady Justice’ from the Supreme court premise in 2017.”

“Like Taliban and ISIL, Hefazat-e-Islam is also vehemently opposed to the rights of women, minorities, and the freedom of speech. All these oppositions are clearly manifested in Hefazat's charter of 13 point demand, which was crafted as a retaliation to the 'National Women Development Policy 2011' (NWDP).”

“The review of Hefazat's charter of 13-point demand would indicate that Hefazat demands the scrapping of the NWDP and the restriction of freedom of speech and liberties.”

“On April 6, 2013, Nadia Sharmeen, along with few other journalists, was brutally attacked and severely beaten up by the activities of Hefazat-e-Islam while reporting on the outfit's agitation program demanding the implementation of 13-point demand. Ms. Sharmeen had survived the attack and was later honored with the 2015 U.S. Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award.”

“The partners of the Hefazat include leaders of the radical Islamic outfits, who had organized massive protests in the 90s forcing Writer Taslima Nasreen into exile and have frequently demanded that Ahmadiyas Muslims be declared non-Muslims.”

“As it appears from its 13-point demand, violence against women, minorities, and cultural and historical sites, Hefazat has been emulating the Taliban's success and exploiting the fractious political environment to turn Bangladesh into a monolithic Islamic theology which is worrisome.”

“Hefazat-e-Islam is engaged in the war of attrition. Its current strategy seems to destabilize the Bangladesh government by resorting to surprise violence, going into hiding temporarily, and then reappearing with more severe violence.”

“Unless stopped, Hefazat would undoubtedly appear as an anti-freedom monolithic terrorist organization like ISIL and Taliban, eventually destabilizing entire South Asia and posing a new national security threat for the United States.”

“Under the above circumstances, we urge you to take necessary actions as soon as possible to safe guard the national security threat for the United States of America.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher