Mustafa Ali Noor
December 30 general election in Bangladesh is crucial. While people are busy in predicting the possible result of the election, they are greatly missing the most important point. It is not actually important to predict the loser – be it Awami League or Jatiyo Oikya Front (National Unity Front). Rather it is important to look into the most crucial part of this election to ascertain the name of the winner – either of the most disturbing elements like Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam. While Jamaat is known as a militancy-linked party, Hefazat is even worst as it denounces democratic process and proclaims establishment of Caliphate. So, the December 30 general election actually is a race between the militants and those ISIS-prototype Caliphate mongers. While the entire world is busy in combating ISIS, it is a matter of grave concern that a pro-Caliphate group like Hefazat-e-Islam is gradually gaining strength in Bangladesh and it is going to even have its representatives in the next parliament.
Let me remind the readers, the size of Hefazat-e-Islam is much bigger than ISIS. While ISIS might have around 30-40 thousand members, the number of Hefazat men is over four million. On the other hand, this Qawmi madrassa-based group has been gradually emerging as a huge pressure group in a secularist country like Bangladesh. In the recent past, Hefazat succeeded in compelling the government in removing some contents from the school and college text books, which Hefazat had branded as “pro-atheism” and “pro-Hinduism.”
In Hefazat-e-Islam’s charters, there is no room for democracy or empowerment of women. Instead, it promotes isolation of women. There is no basic difference between Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi’s Islamic State (ISIS) and Ahmad Shafi’s Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI).
While local and international media are busy in covering pros and cons of the December 30 general election, they are missing this crucial point. They should have raised this vital issue of the risks posed by rise of Jamaat or Hefazat as major political factor in Bangladesh.