Hefazat-e-Islam Ameer Junayed Babunagari announced the dissolution of the party's central committee on Sunday night. Coming to Facebook Live, he said Hefazat was an apolitical organisation and the committee had been abolished in efforts to reconstruct the party.
Following the revelation, many people of the country felt relieved that the Hefazat was finally defeated. But the political philosophy that the party bases itself on has spread across the world for years and it cannot be fought against and triumphed over so easily.
Hefazat is not an apolitical party until it moves away from its target to establish an Islamic Republic or to enforce Sharia law in Bangladesh.
The syndicate of waaz (religious speeches) of the party has to be banned for good. The government should make a list of people who will be allowed to give religious sermons. Some people may see it as an infringement of freedom of expression, but they should be aware that promoting fascism was forbidden everywhere after World War II. We should have taken such a measure after independence in 1971.
The Hefazat leaders, who have motivated poor people in enrolling their children in madrasas, tempting them with visions of life in the hereafter, as part of their design of radicalising the country, should be identified from video clips of waaz mahfils and banned by all madrasa education centres. A general curriculum should be introduced right away in madrasa education and Qawmi madrasas. Qawmi madrasas do not follow any national curriculum yet.
It may seem that Hefazat has accepted defeat. But that may be an illusion. The state should make sure it cannot rise again. In doing so, the government should bring Qawmi madrasas under the primary education system so that they cannot incorporate any controversial topics in the textbooks.
Hefazat leaders have given rise to many controversies. Issues raised by Mawlana Mamunul Haque in the latest instances not only go against the principles of the state but also against the morals of Islam.
There is no Muslim country in the world where marriage registration is not mandatory. Yet Mamunul issued a religious edict that there was no need to register marriages. He also announced the provision of contractual marriage, saying his two contractual marriages were legal.
If such marriages are legal, why would prostitution be illegal? Prostitutes sell their services for money.
During the 1971 war, such religious leaders encouraged the soldiers of the Pakistani army to rape women in the then East Pakistan or occupied Bangladesh as it was. They did not acknowledge sexual assault of Bangalee women as rape. Instead, they issued fatwas legalising rape under cover of contractual marriage.
Now is the time to disempower those who were rehabilitated after 1975, those who gave rise to religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh.
Anti-liberation forces sneaked into the state machinery following the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975. The state should eliminate them now.
The government, which earlier extended support to Qawmi madrasas, should now realise that these madrasas have turned into a threat. They create unrest in society and the state, which is why they should be contained.
Afghanistan is a failed state because of religious fundamentalism. It is rich in natural resources. As per the latest estimate, the country has mineral resources worth $3 trillion. Still, it tops the list of poor nations, and society is divided to such an extent that innocent people are killed every day, adding to the chaos.
Afghan women will be confined again, as they were during the rule of the Taliban, once US troops withdraw from the country by 11 September.
Here in Bangladesh, the Hefazat men nurture the philosophy of the Taliban.
Once Pakistan's economy was as strong as India's, but as religious fundamentalism took hold of it, its economy went downhill and now it is surviving on the mercy of others. It is significant that efforts are now being made for an improvement in relations between Pakistan and India, centering on Covid-19, after a long time.
It is my appeal to the pro-liberation government to bring Qawmi madrasas under control and reinvent and uphold the spirit of the Liberation War.