The developing culture of a political witch hunt in Bangladesh has reached new heights. The victims of this witch hunt are people of flesh and blood who have made their own personal choices. The choice to not follow the path of secularism, materialism and blind political bickering. The choice to follow religion and inculcate its values in their daily lives. The choice to choose Islam as their way of life. The choice of political Islam.
Supporters of Jamaat-e-Islam and Islami Chatra Shibir not only face hurdles during demonstrating peacefully or expressing their views in public, they are also victims of a wider political witch hunt that seeks to isolate and ostracize them from the community, label them as undesirables, throttle their means of existence, all towards that grand scheme to eradicate them from the annals of history.
Defying logic, common sense and any viable explanation, supporters of Jamaat-e-Islam and Islami Chatra Shibir are regularly discriminated against in common spheres of life in Bangladesh. Known members of the parties have been subject to discrimination in attaining government posts. This has been ensured by a police verification methodology of government job aspirants by which political affiliations are deemed more important than criminal records. Affiliation to Jamaat or past history with Shibir can stop your promotion or earn you baseless notoriety in the long run in many a place of work, be it private or public. It can stop your aspirations to run for leading posts in an institution. Simply put, it can terminate your career and destroy it.
What I have stated above is not a joke. I personally know of exceptionally brilliant university students not getting faculty posts due to being Shibir associates, Jamaat activists having to close their business institutions due to their affiliation, Jamaat sympathisers being relieved of government duties for being, well, Jamaat supporters. A recent example of such an incident was the triumphant allegation of banglanews24 that the P.S of Finance Minister A.M.A Muhith wasinvolved with Shibir in his student life. He was subsequently removed from his post and relegated to obscurity. Some papers say he was made an O.S.D (Officer on Special Duty), meaning his job was effectively terminated.
So what is wrong with being a Jamaat or Shibir supporter? Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is a registered political organization in Bangladesh. Similarly, Shibir is not outside the realm of the law. Jamaat has democratically participated in elections of Bangladesh since their inception. Jamaat has had ministers in the cabinet. Jamaat and Shibir are politically and practically democratic in a sense that makes most political parties in Bangladesh look like dynasties. The clean slate of Jamaat in terms of corruption in government is legendary to say the least. The only allegation? Jamaat supported the ‘other side’ during the war of liberation in 1971.
However, is that a valid reason for all this oppression? 42 years have passed since the liberation war. Formers supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami have not only acknowledged Bangladesh, they have also created a new political party (Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami) in line with principles and guidelines of this country, in order to do politics for the welfare of its citizens. Shibir was created in 1977 to work for spreading the message of Islam among general students. Many Shibir activists have matured and entered mainstream politics through the Jamaat-e-Islami. To them, 1971 is not the issue of tomorrow, its a thing of the past. Its a chapter that needs to be learned from and left behind, not cherished in order to hate and oppress. Unfortunately, the power hungry, with the power of ignorance, materialism, unfounded hatred, emotional blackmail and lack of political and personal ethos, have kept up their act, seeing Jamaat and Shibir for who they really are, harbingers of truth and change, champions of the underdog, usurpers of the corrupt.
As a result, a country has suffered. A generation has lost momentum. Bangladesh is still stuck in 1971.