Reflections on Women Development Policy and IOJ's hartal PART III


By rahnuma ahmed

Apnader naamte hobe, had said my friend.
We were discussing the Women Development Policy and both he and Nurul Kabir were astonished. Women’s organisations had not taken to the streets. They had not protested against Islami Oikyo Jote leader Mufti Fazlul Huq Amini’s fabrication, nor against the Awami League-led government’s shocking betrayal of women’s rights.?
The Policy contains anti-Islamic provisions, said Amini. Equal shares to inheritance are against the Quran and Sunnah, these should be scrapped, its implementation would destroy “family values and social norms.” It would encourage the “breakup of families and [lead to] illegitimate births” (bdnewslive, April 21, 2011).?
The lie was used by the Islami Ain Bastobayon Committee (Committee for the Implementation of Islamic Law, or ILIC) to call a daylong countrywide hartal, which, in all likelihood, benefitted the government. It gave credence to Sheikh Hasina’s allegation that the previous BNP-Jamaat led government (2001-2006) in which the IOJ was an alliance partner, had “smeared” the name of Islam, had turned the country into “a haven for terrorists and militants.” (I myself think that the situation is more complex than it is made to appear, for reasons which I’d mentioned previously: the ties between some of the militant Islamically-oriented parties and state intelligence agencies are unclear, as are the reasons as to why Sheikh Hasina has agreed to setting up the regional Counter-Terrorism Centre (for South Asia) in Dhaka, for which the European Union is reportedly providing 1.5 million euros along with technological assistance. And while we are on the topic, I think it’s worth mentioning that American soldiers recently landed at Dhaka airport in a special aircraft with “arms and tools.” According to news reports, they were `disarmed’ by airport customs; apparently, Bangladesh army personnel receiving them had been unaware of customs laws; hurriedly-dispatched home-ministry-authorised documents ensured the release of the armaments which had been brought by visiting US soldiers “to train [the] Bangladesh army” (New Age, April 21, 2011).?
Interestingly enough, Sheikh Hasina’s government seemed to assist the hartal. Summons’ and arrest warrants issued against Amini by a Dhaka court on March 31, 2011?sedition and defamation cases filed respectively by Sammilita Islami Jote, and Jananetri Parishad?were swiftly retracted by the magistrate on the advice of the chief metropolitan magistrate.? Being not under lock-and-key must have helped Amini organise the April 4 hartal.
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