Women's rights activists bring out a procession from Jatiya Press Club in the capital yesterday protesting Hefajat-e Islam's attack on women journalists and the Islamist group's derogatory remarks about women. Photo: Star
Women's rights activists, citizens' groups and journalists yesterday strongly condemned the assault on ETV journalist Nadia Sharmin by Hefajat-e Islam supporters.
Expressing grave concern over the regressive and anti-women stances of the radical Islamist group, they said Hefejat's demands undermine women's rights and the group seems bent on pushing the women back to an era of darkness.
The Qawmi madrasa-based Islamist organisation, however, denies its involvement in the assault.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, its leaders claimed government supporters had infiltrated into the rally venue and staged the attack.
When journalists provided proof of Hefajat men's involvement, the Islamist leaders expressed regret over the incident.
Besides Nadia, three other journalists were attacked while covering Hefajat's programme in the capital on Saturday.
Meanwhile in Chittagong, three photojournalists were assaulted by pro-hartal pickets at Kazir Dewri yesterday.
The injured are Sourav Das of daily Prothom Alo, SM Tamanna of daily Amader Shomoy and Golam Ali Mortaza of daily Bonik Barta.
Hefajat men beat up the three near Kazir Dewri intersection when the latter were taking pictures of the procession. Of them, Tamanna was injured critically, said police.
According to prothom-alo.com, the attackers hit Tamanna in the head with bricks. The journalist was admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.
Some of the attackers were BNP and Jamaat-Shibir activists in Hefajat procession, said eyewitnesses.
JOURNO ASSAULT PROTESTED
Women's rights activists organised a rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club yesterday in protest at the attack on journalist Nadia Sharmin.
Speakers there termed the 13-point demand of Hefajat-e Islam “a violation of the constitution”.
More than 30 organisations including Sammilito Sangskritik Jote, Karmajibi Nari, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA) and Bangladesh Garments Women Workers Association expressed solidarity with the rally.
BNWLA Executive Director Salma Ali cited article 28 of the constitution and pointed out how Hefajat demands contradict it.
Article 28 of the constitution says, “The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of the state and of public life.”
Meanwhile, former vice-president Mahfuza Khanam of Dhaka University Central Students Union called upon the government to clarify its stance regarding Hefajat and their demands.
She said, “If you [the government] think siding with Hefajat would win you seats in the next election, then you are wrong.”
At a human chain organised by Dhaka University's mass communications and journalism department, students and teachers demanded the government immediately arrest those who assaulted Nadia and other journalists.
Prof Geeti Ara Nasreen urged all electronic media outlets to air the footage of Hefajat-e Islam's brutality on journalists.
Prof AJM Shafiul Alam M Bhuiyan, chairman of television and film studies department, said, "As a Muslim, I feel ashamed watching how Hefajat-e Islam activists assaulted women journalists."
Leaders of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists and Dhaka Journalists Union also organised a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club. They called for a journalists rally on April 9.
Human rights organisation Ain o Salish Kendra has also condemned Hefejat's actions and demands.
In a statement yesterday, it said, “We believe Hefajat-e Islam is exploiting religion as part of a conspiracy to carry out anti-women activities and turn the country into a Taliban state.”