Bangladesh Minister Rejects Possibility of Alliance with Religious Extremists
Days after a news report that Bangladesh’s Awami League was looking to make a political alliance with Islamist extremist group Hefazat-e-Islam as a means of diluting the BNP’s Islamist support, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu appeared to shut the door on any such arrangement when he dismissed Hefazat as “political opportunists” and “religious extremists.”
In 2013, Hefazat-e-Islam organized mass demonstrations demanding a 13-point program that included the introduction of draconian blasphemy laws, ending “foreign cultural intrusions” such as free speech, and executing anyone found guilty of “maligning” Islam. In 2016, the group threatened to launch an armed jihad in Bangladesh should the Supreme Court approve a petition to restore the original Constitutional principles of secularism and religious neutrality.
The largest Islamist group operating in Bangladesh, Jamaat-e-Islami, responded to the Information Minister’s characterization by declaring that anyone who criticizes Hefazat-e-Islam is an “enemy to Islam.”