Jihadi Clouds over Bangladesh

“If the Awami League of Hasina is either pushed out of office by mass protests or in an election, be prepared to see another Pakistan emerge on India’s eastern flanks, with hard-core allies of the Muslim Brotherhood turning back the clock on one more Islamic country. The U.S. and the West must keep a watchful eye on the developments inside Bangladesh and help Dhaka fight the jihadi onslaught.”
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Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

A clash of civilizations is unfolding in Muslim Bangladesh, where the forces of radical jihadi Islamism are trying to topple a liberal democracy, and no one in the West seems interested.


Bangladeshi Islamists burn a U.S. flag in anti-government protests

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League have accomplished something of which no other Muslim leader in any Islamic country could dream.

She fought a courageous battle against jihadi Islamism by strengthening secular democracy in the country’s constitution and barring religious parties from using Islam as a political tool.

While other leaders in Islamic countries with quasi democracies such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia have surrendered to the bullying tactics of the Islamists and bent over backward to accommodate medieval mullahs, Bangladesh’s PM has not blinked, despite threats and strikes that are disrupting the country’s economy.

With a national election looming, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its religious partners, the jihadis of the Jamaat-e-Islami, have resorted to a dangerous tactic that brings back memories of the 1971 genocide, when the country’s Hindu population was virtually wiped out by Pakistan’s occupation army and its Islamist collaborators.

Villagers take an injured Hindu man to hospital at Satpatki Majhipara in Lalmonirhat yesterday. Villagers claimed that armed BNP men attacked 40 homes of the Hindus and looted valuables after the Hindus refused to be extorted by them.

Villagers take an injured Hindu man to hospital at Satpatki Majhipara in Lalmonirhat yesterday. Villagers claimed that armed BNP men attacked 40 homes of the Hindus and looted valuables after the Hindus refused to be extorted by them.

On Monday, at least 15 people, including six women, were injured when opposition BNP men stormed a Hindu village and vandalized and looted houses. The villagers complained they came under attack after they refused to participate in a nation-wide strike called against the government.

Traumatized by the violent attack, Hindu women and children of 125 families had to flee the village as opposition goons ransacked about 40 houses and looted valuables, said witnesses.

The Muslim on Hindu attacks in Bangladesh come in the shadow of a war crimes tribunal sentencing two prominent leaders of Bangladesh’s Islamist movements to death for their role in the 1971 genocide committed by the Pakistan Army.

Both convicted Islamists happen to be residents of the U.K. and the U.S. and were found guilty on 11 charges relating to the abduction and killing of 18 pro-independence activists, including academics and journalists, in the final days of the 1971 war.

Stung by these verdicts, the opposition Islamist parties are threatening to bring the country to its knees if Hasina does not resign before the elections in the New Year.

The opposition BNP says, unless Hasina relinquishes power, its supporters will whip up nationwide strikes. It is also threatening to boycott the elections.

HasinaLast week, Hasina offered the formation of an all-party government to see through the elections, but the BNP is going ahead with a rally in Dhaka on Friday, with one party leader asking supporters to come “prepared with arms”.

To counter the Islamist threat, the ruling Awami League has also announced plans for a competing rally on the same day, raising the risk of more bloodshed.

So far this year at least 150 people have died in opposition protests and more than 2,000 have been injured during strikes and protests.

If the Awami League of Hasina is either pushed out of office by mass protests or in an election, be prepared to see another Pakistan emerge on India’s eastern flanks, with hard-core allies of the Muslim Brotherhood turning back the clock on one more Islamic country.

The U.S. and the West must keep a watchful eye on the developments inside Bangladesh and help Dhaka fight the jihadi onslaught.

10 comments for “Jihadi Clouds over Bangladesh

  1. H Rao
    December 28, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Someone sitting in Canada is concerned & raising this issue… while the Indian govt sitting next door doesn’t give a damn about it.. Not even about Hindus… they are actually infected with the disease of Secularism.. i.e. Losing Muslim votes in India..

    Sub continent has gone to dogs.. Lesser responsible are Muslims & Much more responsible are pussy Hindus…

  2. Omar Mukhtar
    December 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Completely fictitous and one sided write up. Only 5% of trueth. Please take care of the fundamentalists BJP in India first and then come to aid the fascist Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh.

  3. S Rahman
    December 29, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    In general I like Mr Fatah. But I should say something about the topic. First of all it’s difficult for anyone to know the fact of a country like Bangladesh. Media is either controlled or infuenced by the government. If you live in North America and make a comment about the inner politics of a country like Bangladesh, it can look like a biased one ( although that may not be your intention)
    I was grown up in Bangladesh and most of my family is still there. We are not in any kind of politics and my family is modern compare to most of the people there. I am not religious and like to see every opinion is respected as long as it doesn’t harm.
    The root of the current problem is the government want to be in power forever. Bangladesh had a care taker government system to run the election. Irony is this government also came to power by an election conducted by care taker govt. 5 years has passed and it’s time for the people( actually it’s the only chance they get in every 5 years and usually people make the right decision. It just happened that no single party got the power for 2 terms in a row). But government want to run the election themselves because they are afraid that the people wont vote for them. I would not go into the details of massive corruption and criminal offences done by the ruling party but like to mention one of the case is under investigation by RCMP.
    Lets see the role of Islamist in Bangladesh politics. They are getting less and less seats in the election. The truth is every party use them to go to power. Awami league was very much friendly with jamat in 1996 to introduce the care taker government. Now another party is using them. Is this a problem ? Yes but calling it as raise of fundamentalism is not real either.
    Last month the supporter of the ruling party was putting fire on Hindu village and one of the minister was present just about 5 km away from the incident. So the people went to him to save their property and he did nothing. If the government can put most of the opposition leader in jail why can’t they catch these bad guys? There are many pictures of armed ruling party supporter has been published in news paper but none of them were caught. On the other hand government is in a mission to destroy any opposition by either arresting or killing them. According to Amnesty International a significant number of opposition supporter diappeared during this ruling party.
    I dont know how much you know of our culture but most of the people I know there are secular. We celebrate new year with custom Islamist would never agree and yet millions of people gather for these kind of festival. Most of our woman don’t wear hijab/ nikab. But there is a very small portion of people whom you can call Fundamentalist. You may express your concern and I will support. But keeping the government without a fair election is not a solution.
    I am sure US, EU and other democratic country know about the election drama. So no one is sending observer for the election.
    Almost all the neutral scholar of the country is against the election and that include Muhammad Yunus (who is one of the biggest victim of the government). The ruling party killed many innocent people while they were in opposition. And not only me every one in Bangladesh hate to see this. Unfortunately the democracy is still fragile and corruption is a huge problem in our country. We all hope with time we will have democracy and trasparent government.

  4. m.AHSAN
    December 30, 2013 at 5:13 AM

    Very well thought and constructively written! Wish everyone in Bangladesh* and the world could think like you.

    Even yesterday (29Dec13) in the morning some people gathered in a procession and gave slogan – “Jihad, Jihad, Jihad chai; Rasul moder shikhiye gechen, Jihad chhara upay nai” (We want Jihad; The Rasul (Prophet MD – pbuh) has taught us, there is no other way except Jihad]. And all I wondered – they are even selling out the Holiness of Islam and the messenger!

    Thank you Mr. Fatah for the article.

    * (including some goats who bleat continuously!)

  5. john
    January 4, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    It is the illiteracy, ignorance and religious education in the childhood with little time for critical thinking of the general population in Islamic countries, which has made Bangladesh and all other similar countries the hot bed for the flames of jihad.

    We all need to be concerned and need to find a common voice that ignoring the dark clouds of fundamentalism are a danger to humanity to all of us including all the people of faiths or secular thinking. Secular education is the only solution and brain washing of children at an early age any where is a danger to the humanity all over the world including our own countries .

  6. Munazir
    January 4, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    Very well written peace. Hefazat e Islam a new fundamentalist outlet which BNP now heavily relies on has memebers who fought with the Talebans in Afghanistan. They intend ti stop female education and their chief has said that girls dont need to go to school after class 5. They plan to prevent women from working. Note that 90% of the successful RMG industry are female workers. On the other hand Jamaat E Islami which many say has swallowed BNP by now has a history of helping Pakistani soldiers by identifying muktijodhdha camps, intellectuals to murder, and women to rape. They intend to cleanse this country of minorities ( Hindu, Buddhists, Christians) like Pakistan managed to do in 1947. Shibir their student front is known for cutting of tendons in wrists and gauging eyes out of political opponents. When Khaleda Zia burst her anger at Shahbagis (a movement to ensure justice of war criminals) by naming them aetheists she infact inspired Jamaat Shibir to murder a blogger called Rajib. The crux of the problem is with only 2-3% support they are controlling BNP which has a larger support base. Jamaats strength lies in the number of trained terrorists they have than the number of supporters. Slitting throats, wrists, bombing,felling trees, uprooting railway tracks etc is their way of politics and Tarique Zia who according to FBI syphoned and laundered of billions of Dollars while in power is happy to have anyones support as long as secular forces are out of the way of power

    • S. Hassan
      January 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      Where are you from? The way you wrote about political violence as if it’s the first time happening in Bangladesh. Every time Awami League is in opposition they did the same or even worse. Right now they are attacking the people with the help of police. Did you see the pictures posted by other people on this page?
      Yesterday one of the top leader of AL( Nasim) said Jamat-BNP and other people involved attacking minorities in Bangladesh ( Ref: Prothom alo, 7 Jan,2014). And who are these other people?
      AL always plays with the lives of common being to distract the attention. Now they are after minorities because most of the normal people has sympathy for them.
      Time will say how much corruption the current prince has done in last five years. Rumor is he made millions only on the Airtel licencing and the princess family is involved in Padma bridge corruption.
      The way you said hefazat member fought in Afghanistan, seems you actually know them or have seen. Why don’t you come with such names and give it to the security people?

  7. Rafique
    January 4, 2014 at 4:33 PM


    This is the view from those living in Bangladesh and its very different to yours from Canada. The Daily Star, a highly – respected paper Is not partial to the Jamaat e Islami but knows when to call a spade a spade.

  8. Waseem
    January 4, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Dear mr. Fatah,
    The world is not black, neither is it white. Please stop labelling the country. Its the old midieval power play thats going on. Perhaps you will have the patience to read: http://www.dhakatribune.com/op-ed/2014/jan/02/bold-step-forward

  9. Rafique
    January 6, 2014 at 12:29 PM


    I am very sorry, Mr Fatah that you did not share this picture with your
    many followers.

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