Out with a new trick? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 20, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 20, 2013

Out with a new trick?

Youths, law-enforcers find Jamaat turning religious sentiment against Shahbagh demonstration


A woman posing as armed freedom fighter shouts slogans demanding death sentence for war criminals on the 15th day of Shahbagh demonstration yesterday. Photo: Anisur Rahman

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With its back against the wall, Jamaat-e-Islami has resorted to a smear campaign against the Shahbagh youths, branding them as atheists, anti-Islamic and anti-social elements with the help of a few radical Islamist groups both in and outside the BNP-led 18-party alliance.
Through advertisements, reports in certain newspapers and rallies, efforts were being made to confuse people about the motive of the young organisers by tweaking religious sentiment of the people, alleged law enforcers and bloggers yesterday.
“All these are false and fabricated tales,” announced Imran H Sarkar, convener of Blogger and Online Activists Network, last night on behalf of all protesters, who camped at Shahbagh for the 15th day with the demand for maximum punishment for the convicts in war crimes trial.
As part of the smear campaign, Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, a radical Islamist organisation based in Hathazari, Chittagong, got published a half-page advertisement in three newspapers yesterday with anti-Islamic contents, claiming those were posted on the internet by different bloggers. It claimed that the Shahbagh movement was against Islam.
Using such advertisements and reports in like-minded newspapers, the anti-liberation forces held protest rallies in Dhaka and Chittagong yesterday to counter the Shahbagh movement.
In a statement in the afternoon, Jamaat-e-Islami said, “The main objective of the Shahbagh protesters is to root out Islam from the country. They are involved in different anti-social activities there.”
Meanwhile, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu said the government would not spare those who are hurting religious sentiments to create tension.
According to the law, it is a punishable offence to create tension by publishing provocative advertisements. And the organisations involved in such activities would be closed down as Youtube was shut in Bangladesh following the Ramu violence, said the minister.
“By spreading hate contents, they are dishonouring Prophet Muhammad [SM],” Inu said, adding that a meeting will be held today to decide on the issue.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, a top leader of Islami Andolon Bangladesh said Jamaat-e-Islami that has drawn public outrage is engaging Qaumi Madrasa-based radical Islamist groups to counter the Shahbagh movement by portraying it anti-Islamic.
They include Khelafat Majlish, Islami Oikya Jote and Olama Mashayekh Parishad.
The Shahbagh demonstrators yesterday strongly protested the advertisements and negative campaigns, and said the anti-liberation forces have chosen a path of hatred to demean Islam by using fake identities in the social media and shift the blame onto them.
Imran H Sarkar, a key organiser of the protest, said some media houses are branding the Shahbagh movement as anti-Islami and spreading lies about slain blogger Rajib Haidar, one of the organisers of the movement.
He said the Shahbagh protesters have nothing against any religion, as the movement is against the mass murderers of 1971.
Immediately after Rajib's murder, the anti-liberation forces launched a negative campaign to brand Rajib as an atheist, claiming he had posted offensive and anti-Islami contents on the internet, said bloggers involved in the movement.
While fingers are pointed at Jamaat-Shibir for the killing, the anti-liberation elements are trying hard to brand Rajib as an atheist to justify the murder and portray all Shahbagh protesters as anti-Islam.
Rajib's family members strongly condemned the attempts to portray him as an atheist.
Ali Haider Dewan, a relative of Rajib, said a conspiracy is being hatched to divert Rajib's killing to a different direction.
As part of a conspiracy against Rajib, someone hacked into his blog and posted controversial elements after his murder, said Dewan.
Meanwhile, Shamsuzzaman Dudu, an adviser to the BNP chairperson, alleged that the government is carrying out anti-Islami activities in the name of demonstrations by engaging a section of youths.
“These youths are being paid by the government to work as its agents,” Dudu, also general secretary of Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal, said at a discussion.
In the capital, several hundred Jamaat activists under the banner of Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish brought out a procession from the Baitul Mukarram Mosque chanting slogans that the Shahbagh youths are atheists.
They circulated leaflets that said in the name of movement against war criminals, the youths are using Shahbagh for illegal activities and spreading anti-Islami ideas.
Later, police swung into action and dispersed them.
In Chittagong, a few hundred people under the banner of Bangladesh Khelafat Andolon staged a demonstration in Hathazari upazila, demanding death penalty for “the bloggers who insulted Islam”.
Locals said some people under the banner of Islami Oikya Jote circulated leaflets that read, “Foil the conspiracy of Awami atheists in the name of the Shahbagh movement, and resist all such movements across the country”.
Meanwhile, some people circulated a list of bloggers over mobile phones demanding death penalty for them.

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