Article In Leading Bangladeshi Daily Traces The Roots Of ‘Islamic Totalitarianism’

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“Only One Power Determines The Course Of History: The Power Of Ideas”; “One Needs To Identify The Enemy As The Vicious Ideology Of Islamic Totalitarianism… That Needs To Be Defeated By A Stronger, Freedom-Embracing Ideology”

MEMRI, March 10, 2013:

In the Islamic nation of Bangladesh, the secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has initiated a series of measures against Islamic fundamentalist groups and terrorist organizations in recent years. One of her government’s key initiatives has been the establishment of an International Crimes Tribunal (ICT). The tribunal has tried several Bangladeshi leaders for collaborating with the Pakistan Army in committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 war, which resulted in the secession of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

The country’s secular forces are aligned with the government, while the right-wing forces are led by the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Begum Khalida Zia. Leaders from the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami have been indicted by the tribunal for crimes such as rape and murder during the 1971 liberation war.

In early 2013, as the tribune convicted several leaders, violent protests were organized by the rival groups in the capital Dhaka, leading to the killings of dozens of civilians and policemen. Among the top people convicted of various war crimes and sentenced to death and life imprisonment are Jamaat-e-Islami leaders Abul Kalam Azad, Abdul Quader Mollah, and Delwar Hossain Sayedee.

Supporters of BNP and members of the Jamaat’s students wing Islami Chhatra Shibir have organized protests against the government, while liberal forces in the country are led by Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League, which came to power following elections in 2008. During several rounds of protests by both sides, tens of thousands of Bangladeshis have turned out in Shahbag Square of Dhaka, as well as in various small towns. The protests are also seen as a struggle between liberal and fundamentalist forces in the country.

In a recent article, a Bangladeshi daily traced the roots of what it called “Islamic totalitarianism” in Bangladesh. The article, “The Rise Of Islamic Totalitarianism,” was written by Shahrazad Jafer and published by Daily Ittefaq, a leading newspaper. The following are excerpts:[1]

“A Power Is Rising Slowly In Bangladesh; It Violates Our Liberty… The Adversary Is Not A Man But An Ideology [Of Islamic Totalitarianism]”; 11th Century Theologian Al-Ghazali Advocated “Unquestioning Faith… Faith Became The Absolute Authority, The Final Arbiter; Reason Was Abandoned”

“A power is rising slowly in Bangladesh; it violates our liberty and life. It violates our very existence. The adversary is not a man but an ideology; the man is but a mere tool. To defeat it, one needs to understand its history, identity, and goal. With razor-sharp clarity, one needs to know its adversary and to know that the only defense against it is secularism.

“Rebirth of Faith: Al‑Ghazali

“The Islamic Golden Age from 8th to 12th century was once the pinnacle of science, philosophy, and art. The people of Baghdad were studying and debating the works of Aristotle and other Greek philosophers. They were fascinated by the teachings of Aristotle on logic and attempted to combine both logic and faith.

“[Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad] Al-Ghazali [1058-1111], a Muslim philosopher, was distressed by the conflict between Islam (submission to faith) and the Golden Age (reason and science). He sought solitude in the desert in search of an answer to this dilemma. He returned with a simple answer: unquestioning faith. Consequently, faith became the absolute authority, the final arbiter. Reason was abandoned and criticism [became] impossible since we could not question an infallible god.

“This was the rebirth of faith into the Muslim society and the end of the age of Enlightenment. Al-Ghazali became known as the man who saved Islam and was given the unique title of ‘Hujjat-Al-Islam’ – The Proof of Islam.”

Read more at MEMRI

The Uprising in Bangladesh that the Media Isn’t Covering

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

by: Ryan Mauro:

For the past two weeks, Bangladesh has been experiencing its largest demonstrations in two decades. Anti-Islamist Muslim Tarek Fatah says  it is “the first time ever in the Muslim world there has been a popular uprising against the fascism of Islamist parties.”

Unlike the Arab Spring revolutions, this uprising’s goal is not overthrowing a secular government, but protecting one.

The current government is led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a female secularist from the Awami League Party. Her party won in a landslide in December 2008, a remarkable—if mostly unnoticed—achievement in a 90 percent Muslim country.

Part of the reason for the victory was the party’s support for bringing justice to those responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians in 1971 when Bangladesh broke from Pakistan. The Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), opposed independence and its student wing was involved in the bloodshed. (Read our interview with Saleem Reza Noor, a Bangladeshi-American, about JEI.)

Read more at Radical Islam