BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has alleged that the government is resorting to lies over the “so-called” al-Qaeda message.
“The government is carrying out Goebbels-style propaganda, but it will not work in this age,” Khaleda was quoted by a journalist leader as saying at a closed-door meeting with pro-BNP media people at her Gulshan office last night.
The journalist leader who spoke to The Daily Star in return for anonymity also quoted her as saying: “It is now known who has spread this message [al Qaeda]. As journalists you too are well aware of it.
We have information that Joy [Sheikh Hasina's son] was behind it.”
The BNP didn't brief reporters about the two-hour meeting between its chief and the journalist leaders.
The Daily Star could not independently verify if Khaleda made these remarks. A couple of journalist leaders who were present at the meeting confirmed she made the remarks, but none of them would speak on record.
The audiovisual message purportedly from al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri urged the Muslims in Bangladesh to wage an intifada (popular uprising) to confront the “crusader onslaught against Islam”.
The message alleged that thousands of people were being killed in the streets of Bangladesh for protesting the “collusion of the anti-Islam secular government with a bunch of transgressing secularists”.
At last night's meeting, the BNP chief said al-Qaeda doesn't exist in Bangladesh, and it never did.
“People will never allow al-Qaeda to carry out activities on the Bangladesh soil,” Jahangir Alam Pradhan, general secretary of a faction of Dhaka Union of Journalists, quoted Khaleda as saying.
Turning to the upazila election, she said the government wanted to make the local polls one-sided. “But it is now upset to see the BNP-backed candidates contesting the election,” Khaleda was quoted by Pradhan as saying.
She also told the journalist leaders that the BNP-led alliance would launch a fresh anti-government agitation after the party reorganises its front organisations.
“On March 1, I will visit Rajbari as part of the anti-government programme. And this time, the government has to step down,” Elias Khan, general secretary of Dhaka Reporters Unity, quoted her as saying.