Huji leaders float party with govt nod
US citizen helped it get 'int'l support'
of the banned Islamist outfit Harkatul Jihad Al Islami (HuJi)
Bangladesh have floated Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) with permission
from the government.
Mostly Soviet-Afghan War veterans, they
claim they formed a 15-member convening committee in May as the
caretaker administration gave them the go-ahead after a probe found
nothing that could link them to any subversive campaign.
Azizul Huq, an adviser of the newborn organisation, told The Daily
Star, “The intelligence agencies gathered that we have no relations to
any terrorist networks.
“The government however set some
conditions. Those include ones that say the party must run as per the
country's constitution, and not resort to violence to implement Shariah
Last Friday, IDP held an Iftar party at the city's Diploma
Engineers Institution. It was attended by party leaders and guests
including Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of weekly Blitz and a
campaigner for Israel, Amar Desh Assistant Editor and Human Rights
Forum General Secretary Sanjeeb Choudhury, PK Barua of Bouddha Kristi
Prochar Sangha and Chitta Francis, a representative of Christian
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Naim
Ahmed told The Daily Star that they allowed IDP to arrange the function
as it was a religious one.
Replying to a query, he said they
will definitely go for a closer examination before giving the
organisation permission to arrange any political programme.
Abdus Salam heads the convening committee. It was under his leadership
that a group of Afghan War veterans launched HuJi at a press conference
at the National Press Club on April 30, 1992.
Sources close to IDP said the outfit's ultimate objective is to establish Shariah law in the country.
Huq, on the other hand, said, "Our goal is to run the country as per
the Charter of Medina that gives equal rights to all citizens
irrespective of religion and ethnicity."
He said they want to
introduce Shariah (the body of Islamic religious law) only for the
Muslims. Other religious and ethnic minorities may follow the existing
law of the land and norms of their communities.
"We don't want
to impose anything on anyone. We'll put the Islamic laws into practice
only if the people grant us an electoral mandate to amend the
constitution," Azizul continued.
"Even those of Muslims who won't want to follow Shariah will have the freedom to follow the existing law."
said the government had suggested they [IDP] take measures to convince
the international community that their move to launch the outfit had no
relations with extremism.
The suggestion came in view of the
fact persons behind the new party had involvement with HuJi, an outfit
that was banned by the government for terrorism in October 2005.
said Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and Dr Richard L Benkin, an American
citizen, helped in efforts to portray IDP in a positive light across
the globe especially in the developed countries.
In an e-mail to
this correspondent, Dr Benkin confirmed the statement. He said, “Mr.
Huq is correct. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and I continuously try to
bridge the gulf between religious communities throughout the world and
always look for opportunities to promote a positive image of Bangladesh
“Mr. Huq and I met for hours one day in Dhaka many
months ago and recognised our common belief in God and faith. We
also….. 'agreed to disagree' in the spirit of interfaith understanding
“The newly formed Islamic Democratic Party
opens the door for Muslims to separate themselves before the entire
world from radicals and terrorists while at the same time affirming
their strength in the Muslim [Islam] faith.”
Shoaib, who was
arrested at Zia International Airport in November, 2003 and charged
with sedition in January, 2004, told The Daily Star, “The government
gave permission to launch Islamic Democratic Party and host the Iftar
party under the state of emergency. It's a green signal, and it allowed
IDP to shed the names of HuJi and Islamic Gono Andolon."
added, “Since IDP echoes the demand for establishing ties between Dhaka
and Jerusalem, and upholds interfaith understanding, it is our
responsibility to promote them at international level."
speaking at Friday's programme, he said, "Islamic parties are
stereotyped as anti-democracy. The emergence of IDP represents new
trends in the country's politics as it believes in democracy while
being an Islamic party.
“The name of IDP is connected to HuJi,
an organisation that is widely criticised. Those who brand IDP as a
terrorist organisation run on foreign funds."
He also said, “If
Hizb-ut Tahrir, which is banned across the countries and had role in
the Bali blasts, and anti-Liberation forces like Jamaat-e-Islami can
operate openly, why can't IDP?”
Besides the one in Dhaka, IDP
held Iftar parties in Chapainawabganj on September 6, Rajshahi on
September 8, and Rangpur on September 15. Another one is scheduled to
be held in Natore today.
Meanwhile, sources said IDP will form a full committee through a national convention before the ninth parliamentary election.
also plans an alliance with other small parties--Islamic, non-Islamic
and ethnic--and a token participation in the December 18 election, they
The party has already applied for registration with the Election Commission (EC).
Haque said, "We are preparing for registration on meeting the
conditions specified in the application form. At the same time, we are
working to have organisational structures for district and upazila
The HuJi men who are now with IDP claim they had
nothing to do with the blasts and some other acts of violence
attributed to HuJi in general. Rather, it was a splinter group led by
Mufti Hannan and Abdur Rouf that was responsible for the attacks.
said they expelled Hannan from the organisation in 1998. After some
time, they formed a political party named Islamic Gono Andolon against
the backdrop of HuJi being listed as a terrorist organisation
During the BNP-led four-party alliance rule,
Gono Andolon ran its organisational activities in secret as it tried
not to be associated with the militant campaign that was being carried
out by Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh at that time.
Andolon was renamed Sacheton Islami Janata on August 19, 2006 following
an understanding with the then government that allowed the organisation
to work out in the open.
They have been trying to get permission
since the caretaker administration took over in January last year, and
obtained it six to seven months back, an IDP source said.
former HuJi cadre said beginning in late eighties and working
throughout the nineties, HuJi built up a network across madrasas. It
organised arms training for students in hilly forest areas.
different occasions, he continued, it sent trained youths to
Afghanistan to participate in the war there. HuJi operatives were
dispatched to Myanmar as well to fight for Rohingya militants against
the Myanmarese army.