Saturday, 16 February 2013

To ban or not to ban?

To get the ball going, here's a quote from Sheikh Hasina, from an interview in the Bangladeshi English language paper, the Daily Star:

“They don’t believe in democracy, they believe in criminal activities. So, their politics is politics of crime,” Hasina told journalists while visiting the bereaved family of the 30-year-old blogger at their residence at Pallabi in the capital Saturday afternoon.
“They don’t have any right to do politics in a free Bangladesh, they don’t, they don’t,” Hasina said in a choked voice. 

This would appear to indicate that the government's primary argument for wishing to ban Jamaat-i-Islaami (henceforth referred to as JI) appears to be the violence that its youth wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS), has been deploying in its confrontations with the police. Fingers have now also been pointed at ICS as the prime suspect in the murder of the Shahbag blogger, Ahmad Rajib Haidar. The problem with this argument is that JI and ICS do not hold a monopoly on politically motivated violence in Bangladesh. The student wings of the two major political parties, the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are themselves notorious for acts of violence perpetrated against members of other parties' youth wings. To take a recent example, members of the Awami League student wing (BCL) beat and hacked to death Bishwajit Das, a young man who was mistaken for a member of the opposition. The representative of BCL was moreoever quick to blame the opposition student wings for the death.

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