Demonstration by Jamaat-e-Islami workers (file)Image Credit source: Twitter
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has rejected the appeal of the country’s largest Islamic party, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, to overturn the 2013 decision. The party was barred from contesting the elections due to violation of constitutional provisions of secularism. In its decision, a five-member bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the previous decision of the High Court. On the request of the Election Commission, the court had ordered to cancel the registration of the party. The use of party symbols in elections was banned but no ban was imposed on the party.
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami had opposed the country’s independence struggle against Pakistan in 1971. For this, a demand was raised for a complete ban on the party in 2013. The court had banned the party from contesting elections. Since coming to power in 2009, there have been calls to ban top party leaders in the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Held the party accountable for genocide and war crimes during the freedom struggle. Since then some leaders have been given death sentence or life imprisonment.
Party will remain politically active
Although the party’s chief lawyer did not appear in the court and had demanded to postpone the hearing for six weeks, but the court rejected this demand of the lawyer. The party says that it will remain politically active. However, a lawyer opposing the party clarified that any attempt by Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami to organize meetings, rallies with foreign entities or violate the law could lead to the party being charged with contempt of court. .
Bangladesh is a Muslim but secular country
Bangladesh is a Muslim country but the legal framework is based on secularism. In such a situation, parties like Jamaat-e-Islami are considered fundamentalist. The parties demanding a ban on the party also call themselves secular and are demanding a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, but the government has not taken any action on it at present. It is noteworthy that the United States considers Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami as a moderate Islamic party.
Jamaat-e-Islami was an ally of Khaleda Zia
The Jamaat-e-Islami party has been a key partner of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. Khaleda Zia has been a rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is currently serving a sentence on corruption charges. Zia’s party has made a plan to boycott the upcoming general elections with Jamaat-e-Islami. Sheikh Hasina has been accused of vindictive action. General elections are to be held in Bangladesh on January 7 next year. Normally, the Home Ministry is responsible for banning radical groups considered anti-state.